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Category : Thinking

Inspiring Action For Hurricane Relief

In the past month, our country has been slammed by two catastrophic natural disasters in Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. While the storms have passed, the devastation has not. Millions of people have been affected, and thousands are still without food or shelter.

At DiMassimo Goldstein, we talk a lot about Inspiring Action, and there is no action more inspiring than helping people in times of distress. In the past few weeks, we have been inspired by the courageous and empathetic actions that many brands have taken to help those in need. When companies have the supplies and systems in place to respond quickly, they should – and these brands did just that and then some.

JetBlue has capped the fares of flights leaving South Florida and other parts of the country that are likely to see Irma’s fury, helping as many people as possible escape the devastation. These fares are available until September 13th. The company is also waiving fees for changes in reservations to travelers who have had to cancel flights due to the storm.

Airbnb launched their “Disaster Relief Program” in both Texas and Florida. The program, which assembles a list of hosts willing to open their homes for free, has helped thousands of people looking for emergency shelter following the hurricanes and flooding.

Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile have all waived overage charges for calls, texts, and data for its customers in Florida, helping people connect with family, check for weather updates, and follow the coverage of the storms on their phones.

Walmart has donated a total of $30 Million in relief for both Harvey and Irma. The company has also shipped thousands of trucks loaded with emergency supplies like water, batteries, generators, food, and first aid kits to hurricane impacted areas. Walmart will also match any donation that customers make at any Walmart or Sam’s Club.

Google provided real-time road closure information in its maps platform, which helped thousands as they had to make split decisions evacuating cities. The company also created a “digital survival kit”, pulling together about 20 mobile apps to help Floridians make it through the storm. The collection of apps included Hurricane Tracker, Family Locator, American Red Cross, GasBuddy, The Weather Channel, and Zello, which received six million users in one week as Florida prepared for the Hurricane.

After receiving requests for help, Tesla pushed a software update for those in evacuation areas that increased the battery capacity of some Model S Sedans and Model X SUVs, allowing the cars and those driving in them to go 30 to 40 miles farther on a single charge.

These companies showed love, courage, and understanding. They didn’t wait to react. They sacrificed sales and revenue to help others. They understood their power and responsibility, and used it to implement real on-the-ground solutions to acute and urgent needs.

Now that’s #inspiringaction!

To Build A Brand Masterpiece

I can’t remember when I first became fascinated with brands, but I know I was just a young child. Back then, Cheerios and Wheaties, Esso and Shell, Little Friskies cat food, Avis Rent-a-Car, were like cartoon characters to me. They had distinct personalities and I felt like I knew them, just like I knew the characters in my favorite shows.

From the brands I learned to love on TV to the more mature brands I later grew to love. The rock bands I worshipped. The threat and allure of Disco, Punk, New Wave and beyond. The religions I was pitched at school, in the streets and at my front door. My first credit cards from Citibank and American Express. Nike and Apple.

What art form gives you all the senses to work with? Sight. Sound. Smell. Hearing. Touch. And story, imagination and emotion too?

The dream began to form in me of building brands the way Picasso made paintings, the way Frank Lloyd Wright made buildings, the way Edison made inventions. Could I give thought to every touch point, and express a distinct and attractive personality that would remain consistent without ever being boring or trite?

I wanted to learn from the best, so I went to work for the best in the business. I chose as my clients entrepreneurial masters of brand building. I never thought of myself as the master, but only as student and servant. I practiced my craft obsessively. I stayed up nights writing. I read every book. I invited my heroes to lunch, always trying to learn a bit more, to add another key.

Yes, all of that time, I was a direct marketer. All of that time, I was measured by how well my work pulled, by beating controls, by winning tests, by conquering the A/B splits.

I learned all the tricks, but my greatest trick of all and the most effective was the ability to evoke emotion through brand. “A great brand idea is the ultimate response device,” I said. And I proved it repeatedly.

I’ve watched a lot of direct brands and careers die since then. Simultaneously, I’ve watched the great direct-led brands become the leading brands of our time. American Express, Apple, Amazon, Airbnb … and that’s just the A’s!

Remember, if you are in the business of selling directly, don’t merely sell. Build a rich, evocative, emotional brand. Use every touch point to differentiate. Err on the side of too much personality. Crush apathy. Make objectivity impossible.

Just as I do, so many wildly successful marketers remember their first journey of brand discovery as the true commencement of their marketing careers. They look back on that quest to uncover the insight that can change and organize everything going forward. The way they followed the data to the customer journey and came back with the golden insight, then mined that inspiring idea for all it was worth.

It’s a revolution in a brand, in a business and in a marketer’s career. In fact, many marketers have told me, “That’s when I first felt like a real marketer.”

Let’s do marketing for real. Let’s build a masterpiece.

 

Inspiring Action Brand of the Month: Ellevest

Sallie Krawcheck had an inspiring idea:

Create a robo-advising platform specifically designed for women.

Like most inspiring ideas, it came from true aspiration — and few things mobilize and stimulate humans more than true human aspirations.

That aspiration? To help close the investment gender gap. But to truly understand the roots of Krawcheck’s aspirations, you must first understand her background.

As the former CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and the CFO of Citigroup prior to that, Krawcheck spent much of her career being the only woman in the room. Finance is a “for men, by men” industry, and few people in the world have been as exposed to — or as outspoken about —  that disparity as much as Krawcheck.

In regards to Wall Street’s unofficial mascot, Krawcheck asks Forbes, “Does it get any more male than that? Maybe a snake.”

The quantitative research is staggering. Just 16 percent of the nation’s 311,000 financial advisors are female. Due to this imbalance, investing is tailored towards men’s interests, leading women to put their money in the bank rather than invest it. Seventy-one percent of all assets controlled by women are held as uninvested cash.

To Krawcheck, this translates to “us boss ladies missing out on major market-gain opportunities and losing out on inflation.”

The reality is that the financial industry does not favor women. It doesn’t speak to their unique financial needs, or address their goals, or speak their language. Women aren’t as interested as men in “beating the market.” Instead, they prefer to think of their investments in terms of goals, like buying a home, starting a business, or paying off a student loan. And as a result, far too many women are sitting on the sidelines instead of making their money work harder for their dreams.

Frustrated and determined to make a difference, Krawcheck had her insight: Make investing seem like a game worth playing by making it appear less like a game.

In 2014, she put that insight to action by launching Ellevest, a female-focused robo-advising platform.

Unlike other robo-advising platforms, Elllevest puts women first. Krawcheck and her team spent over 100 hours interviewing women to ensure that the entire user experience was geared toward the way women think about their money. It connects with the female investor on a deeper, more psychographic level by putting a hyper focus on the realities of being a woman —  for example, the greater likelihood of women taking time out of the workforce. Or the fact that their salaries, in general, tend be lower over the course of their careers despite peaking earlier than men’s. It considers the five extra years of a woman’s lifespan when planning for retirement. All of these factors should have a strong influence on investing strategies, and yet Ellevest is the only company making an active effort to recognize them.

And it’s working. This past March, Ellevest had over 3,000 accounts with $18 million in assets.

Krawcheck has created a brand that allows women to inspire action in themselves. She has given her consumers a self-actualizing experience, and nothing is more valuable to a consumer today. Opening an account with Ellevest means investing in yourself. It’s a company on an inspiring mission to close the investment gender gap, and women want to be a part of that story.

That’s why Ellevest is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Month!

 

See Like An Optimizer

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Optimizers have a way of seeing.

If I can’t get this across to you, then nothing else in this book will get you all the way there. You have to be able to project things forward in your mind. Like a chess master, to think trough the next few moves. You have to develop a feel for how things might go. The truth is, we all have this radar. It’s just human instinct. But some of us have better access to it than others.

This has been scientifically proven. If a threat – say a rat or a coyote – enters your peripheral vision, your little hairs will stand on end before you even consciously know what’s going on. Something in you knew, and reacted.

We know. Even when we think we don’t. Even when we’re so invested in the idea that we don’t that we’d swear to it ten ways to Sunday. We know.

We need a way of getting it out. I write a journal. I meditate. I play devil’s advocate with my partners and ask them to do the same with me. I indulge in focused worry sessions, to make sure i’m not missing anything.

Project forward, and optimize.

Hunting With A Fishing Pole?

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Too many people are failing for hunting with a fishing pole. 

Let’s say you’ve gotten this far in life on your fishing skills. But the waters are all fished out and the hunters are bringing home the big dinners now. Do you get advice, read all you can about hunting, find a guide or partner to lead you? Or do you just head off into the woods with your fishing pole and tackle?

Of course not. If you are with me to this point, you of course recognize this as absurd. And yet we all do this in some part of our lives, very likely in more than one. The fact is it’s so hard to keep track of the things we know that it’s impossible to even learn the names and categories of all the things we don’t know.

And knowing is just the first step. Accepting is another thing entirely. Knowing what to do about it is a third. If the thing you don’t know is a fatal flaw such as not knowing how to judge character and quality in people, then that’s going to dog you no matter what you do. You are going to need to address that directly, as quickly and as energetically as you can. You’re going to need to get the best help you can with that, because it will be like driving with the emergency brake on- it not only slows you down, it also stinks.

Work as hard as you can on getting to know what you don’t know. If you don’t know marketing, find someone to trust. Of course you need to learn and check with other advisors, but you want to try to develop trust and a good relationship with a key advisor. Look for proof, for measures of success that make sense, but delegate real responsibility and authority.

Create a real partnership and let it flower.

 

Take The Word “Brief” Seriously

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

Ernest Hemingway is said to have created the shortest short story ever. Over lunch at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City, Hemingway bey his writer friends he could write a compelling tale in only six words. His lunch mates happily bet $10 each that he couldn’t do it. Hemingway scribbled six words on a napkin, then passed it around. Each writer read the napkin and immediately conceded Hemingway had won. The six words: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

At DiMassimo Goldstein, we could say, “We’ll get you to a better place and we’ll get you there quicker.” But we say, “Higher standards. Shorter runways.”

So let’s not ever make each other guess which part of a brief is the important part. Let’s just include the important part. Let’s make sure our briefs are simple, compelling and crystal clear. Nothing in an agency is more sacred. – From the DIGO Standard .

I like to think that it’s called a brief for a reason. This is not about “minimalism” or some fetish for curtness. Before a brief can be a tool for getting the right creative work or media thinking out of a team, a brief is a tool for getting thoughts focused. Focused thinking is elegant. An elegant solution is everything that is necessary to solve a problem, and not one thing more. Looking at it from the other directions, you want it as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Think problem/solution. Question/answer. Stimulus/response. Just as listening well is essential to communicating effectively, defining the problem is essential to creating a solution.

 

Is the World Changing Faster Than Your Company?

Brands and businesses are stubborn.

And why wouldn’t they be? They’re run by humans, and we’re the most stubborn species of all.

We don’t just hate change, we loathe it. We run the other way and resist it at all costs.

And businesses, like humans, are also creatures of habit. They love their routines, and when successful, they love them even more. In these routines, they’re safe – so they repeat them until they become automatic.

But this behavior is dangerous, and for businesses, it’s downright deadly.

By nature, CEO’s and CMO’s fixate on control, and change is the antithesis of control. It brings upon the very thing they work so hard to avoid: uncertainty. It can mean abandoning the strategies and practices that got them where they are today – and worst of all, it almost always means more work.

But the world is changing, and to be successful, your brand and business must change with it.

It’s how IBM, a company that was selling cheese slicers 106 years ago is now leading the conversation on Artificial Intelligence.

It’s how Marvel, a comic book company that went bankrupt in 1996, now has two of the top ten highest grossing films of all time.

It’s how our inspiring client, Weight Watchers, transformed from a weight loss brand to a vibrant community of empowered members to achieve seven straight seasons of growth.

And it’s how The New York Times, a publication founded in 1851, is topping the podcast charts with its sponsored program, The Daily.

You may call these companies game changers, and that’s fine – but the truth is they didn’t change the game, they just reacted more quickly than their competitors when the game itself changed.

So how’d they do it?

They took actions. Brave and courageous actions in the face of discomfort. They opened doors their competitors wouldn’t – and most of those competitors are still locked out.

They hired planners – planners who became obsessed with the future. They examined trends and thought flexibly. They kept their eye on the bigger picture, when everyone else was focused on the smaller portraits of the present.

The unknown isn’t safe, but it’s where you need to play if you want to win.

So think ahead. Imagine possibilities that seem decades and decades away. The way you think consumers make decisions today will be different than the way they make decisions tomorrow.

Become a leading brand of 2020.

Take action. Define the alternative future you exist to prevent.

 

Excavate Your People Theory

The following post is an excerpt from Digital@Speed, authored by digital marketing guru Mark DiMassimo. Visit the official website here to download your free copy today.

What do you believe about people? What do you think they work for? What motivates them?

You have a people theory whether you know it or not. No one could long survive in a society without some operating theory of what will work in interactions with other people.

When I was in college, I interned at a psychiatric hospital on the acute care ward. People came in at their absolute craziest. Sometimes they were truly stark raving mad. But for the most part, these people were successful more than half of the time in navigating interactions with other people.

On the other hand, even the most successful don’t have perfect social records. They misjudge people or themselves. They make mistakes.

They too have people in theories in action.

A leader should be as conscious of his or her people theory as possible. Look for your patterns. Write stuff down. Question your assumptions. It’s not easy, but it’s less painful than expensive mistakes.