Written by James Nieman
It’s 2012. Andy Puddicombe approaches the stage. He’s carrying three juggling balls.
“When did you last take any time to do nothing?”
It’s an interesting way to open up a TED Talk. After a brief pause, the Headspace co-founder addresses the audience once again.
“Just 10 minutes. Undisturbed. No emailing. Texting. No Internet. No TV. No chatting. No eating. No reading…Simply doing nothing.”
He had the audience’s attention.
The talk “All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes” has become iconic. It’s amassed over 6 million views and was among the first TED Talks to be featured on Netflix.
The speech itself is just 10 minutes long. This is no accident. Headspace is built around the idea that “10 minutes could change your whole day.”
It’s simple, but if you’ve been reading our blog, you know that only the very best value propositions can be plain and direct. When the product is this good, there’s no need to dress it up.
And make no mistake, Headspace is good. The digital meditation app provides over 8 million users in 200 different countries with guided meditation sessions every day, and that number is only expected to rise in the next year. Google, LinkedIn, Virgin, and Goldman Sachs are just a few of the many companies worldwide that offer the subscription package to all of their employees.
And we’re not surprised. We’ve witnessed time and time again the power of a truly inspiring idea – and that’s exactly what Headspace has. Posted in big and beautiful letters, its homepage reads “our simple idea is to teach the world to meditate, so that everyone can live a happier, healthier, more enjoyable life.”
It’s a purpose. It’s a social mission. It’s an inspiring idea above commercial intent.
Like most inspiring ideas, it came from an inspiring individual. Puddicombe’s brand and his personal brand are very much intertwined. He’s just as much a part of Headspace as Headspace is a part of him, and that plays an integral role in what makes the Headspace experience feel so authentic.
A Buddhist monk, Puddicombe has trained in Nepal, India, Burma, Thailand, Australia and Russia. By the time he started the company in 2010, he had spent nearly two decades of his life devoted to the practice.
This goes a long way with users. As the voice behind the app’s meditation sessions, Puddicombe delivers his undeniable passion for meditation in a very direct manner.
Think of Headspace as a gym membership for the mind. Instead of having a personal trainer whom you don’t know or trust, you have one of the very best on the planet. This creates a level of comfort and confidence among the users. There’s nothing artificial or dishonest about Puddicombe, and brand advocates feel they belong to something real.
And Puddicombe, along with everyone else who works at Headspace, has discovered what the people they serve aspire to be and do. They’re anxious to slow things down. They live fast-paced, frantic lives and carry an immense amount of stress. They want to relax but just don’t know how.
Headspace does just that. It’s been proven to help people stress less, exercise more and sleep better. It can help with relationships and can increase work performance. While meditation is an ancient practice that dates back centuries, science is just now catching up to all of its benefits.
There’s really no limit to the extent of positive impact that meditation can have on an individual.
It didn’t start with an app. It started with an idea: to make meditation and mindfulness as accessible, relevant, and beneficial to as many as possible.
In the beginning, Headspace was strictly an event company. Then they expanded to books. Eventually it evolved into a comprehensive online resource, and now a mobile-service app.
Headspace is channeling technology to bring the benefits of meditation to the masses. The app allows Puddicombe to connect with his user base regardless of where they are in the world.
Many people have argued that technology is counterintuitive to meditation. Perhaps that makes even more of a case for Headspace. Talking about his iPhone, Puddicombe tells FastCompany:
“This can be used for good or bad. What excited me was the opportunity to use it for good, to interrupt some of the negative habits that seem to be developing quite quickly around technology.”
Through doing just that, Headspace has defined the alternative future it exists to prevent. As technology continues to advance, society will only become more and more inundated with distractions. Headspace is using the very same technology, but to encourage people to step back, live in the moment, and relax.
That’s why Headspace is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week!
By Mark DiMassimo
Our clients hire us to drive brand value up while driving cost-per-acquisition down.
Basically, they need to exceed revenue targets (i.e. sales) while they lay the groundwork for outsized growth – that’s what I call Big Brand.
For some that are reliant on direct mail for a large portion of the new customer acquisitions, this means first making the direct mail work a lot better.
Simultaneously, we work to shift the locus of acquisition to the digital channels where we know we can generate more response – more sign-ups, applications, accounts, customers, clients, recruitment, leads, sales, etc. – for fewer dollars.
In fact, we’ve found that we can so dramatically lower the cost of acquiring a new customer that businesses and brands are dramatically transformed. Promising start-ups become hot growth-stage companies. Mature companies in “tired industries” become hot turnaround stories.
And here’s the thing – we accomplish all of this with a managed level of risk. We test, before we roll out. We only move the real dollars after a strategy has proven to outperform the old strategy. We remain agile and optimize our mix on a daily basis, reporting and meeting with clients weekly to discuss and make the decisions that make all the difference.
Of course, there are internal communications issues, political challenges, vendor conflicts and other considerations that can interrupt the process of creating a dramatically outperforming marketing mix. Because this is all we do, we know those waters very well and we can help navigate while you steer, Captain.
Then we help our clients layer in social-led acquisition, mobile-driven brand direct marketing and content-fueled response marketing. We’ve been scouting those waters for over a decade as well.
Let’s talk more about this. Tweet me at @markdimassimo or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Less direct mail. More digital. Onward!
If you think of the credit unions as sleepy, dated, obsolete organizations, you are not like most people, because most people don’t think of credit unions at all.
So, when Affinity Federal Credit Union came to us a few years after the second-worst financial crisis in American history, we needed to find a way to get a lot more people to think about a credit union. And not only that, we needed to get them to contact that credit union and to make it their own.
Seven million people had lost their homes in the previous few years. Eight point eight million jobs had been lost as well. The trust in financial institutions plummeted by fifty percent, while trust in banks fell even more.
We did a strategic exploratory of all the key messages that might help Affinity Federal Credit Union achieve its goals, and we found one message that did that far better than any other.
Affinity Federal Credit Union isn’t a bank.
You can, however, get a checking account, business loan or credit card there. And people do need financial services.
Affinity had an inspiring idea above commercial intent. It had a not-for-profit public service mission that aimed to help people and small businesses help each other through community credit.
Affinity discovered what the people it serves aspire to be and do. Our planning team talked to credit union members and learned how motivated they are to not see themselves as the victims or enablers of Wall Street. Instead, they prided themselves on investing in their own community and in maintaining institution that had become so important to that community.
We had our line…
All the financial services of a bank, but 100% Fat Cat free.
Affinity took this inspiring idea and dramatized it through a small number of iconic actions.
First, we created commercials, which could have never, ever been done by any uptight bank. Our major character was a real fat cat behind a desk. The response was so tremendous that the spot ended up catapulting Affinity to a national story, and was featured on Spike TV’s Funniest Commercials of the Year — twice. And the campaign for a community credit union went viral on social networks, dramatically increasing the efficiency of the advertising. Yes, it was iconic.
Affinity Federal Credit Union – Fat Cats from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.
When it came time to showcase Affinity’s low checking fees, we knew we had to be dramatic. We brought elite athletes and fat cat banking customers into the same gym. Then, to demonstrate how commercial banks clobber their customers with enormous fees, we printed “ATM fees” and other fees on dodgeballs, blindfolded the customers and then let the athletes pelt them mercilessly. (Of course, our lawyers were present with ironclad releases and videotaped disclaimers.) It was literally an in-your-face advertisement, and it too went viral.
Affinity FCU Fee Ball :60 from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.
Affinity is using technology and system to shorten the cycle of test and optimization. The media that we run isn’t just reported by some bot. It’s seen and interacted with. We’re buying it only in transparent ways, eliminating the estimated 15-20% waste from inefficiency that most media planning/buying firms are passing along to their clients. It allows a modest and cost-effective investment to cause a dramatic uptick in both acquisition and brand value.
Through demonstrating the 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Company, Affinity is changing behaviors and getting a new generation to open up accounts and form relationships with a credit union. People want to be a part of an organization that has their interests at heart.
That’s why Affinity Federal Credit Union is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week, and we couldn’t be more proud to be its agency.
When you have a better mousetrap, you don’t hide the fact and you don’t need to dress it up. The very simplicity of your presentation becomes the ultimate proof of the superiority of your product and the confidence of your company. Only the best can be absolutely plain and direct.
- “1000 songs in your pocket.” – Apple
- “15 minutes will save you 15% on car insurance.” – Geico
- “People do stupid things, like paying too much for phone service.” – Vonage
- “A great shave for a few bucks a month.” – Dollar Shave Club
- “Rides in minutes.” – Lyft
- “Be more productive at work with less effort.” – Slack
Of course, your substance must be presented with style. Who doesn’t want to be an iPod silhouette, for example? Geico’s pragmatic punch line is always preceded by a jab of accessible humor. Vonage brings pure and stupid joy to saving money on broadband phone service. The message, however, remains the same.
Do you have a better mousetrap? Then fight like hell to present it simply.
Trading can be a solitary pursuit. But not for graduates of Online Trading Academy. OTA’s culture delivers a lifetime commitment, community, hugs and love.
What they are doing is a preview of the future. They are enabling people to use machines to do the work of making money, so that the people themselves can spend more time on human pursuits.
One trader devotes himself to funding his father’s retirement. Another spends Fridays and weekends rescuing dogs from kill kennels, caring for them and finding them homes. Another sets up trades to fund his family while he preaches in poor churches that can’t afford to pay him. A single mother trades to make money and still be able to teach her daughter every day. Post-heart/lung transplant, one father of three trains for a new career he can pursue in recovery (and makes even more money than he did at his old management job).
This stuff may be for people who love dealing with numbers, analysis and routine, but they do it to create more time for being human beings.
In this sense, OTAcademy and Online Trading Academy are on the cutting edge of the relationship between humans and machines, and they are projecting love and empowerment into the future.
Now that’s Inspiring Action!
By Mark DiMassimo
Here’s how to get creative people to make you rich:
First off, don’t compromise.
Don’t give up one iota of ambition or one quantum of results orientation.
Don’t pretend to care about awards or fame or any of those other things that people think creative people care more about than money.
All you need to do is speak a language that lets creatives know that you are absolutely committed to BOTH – selling more and driving up brand value, money and relevant fame.
All you must do is never undermine their faith in your commitment to top-level achievement on BOTH of those scales, and then you win.
Sometimes this means saying “brand response” or “brand direct” instead of “direct response.” I know, it seems silly, but it’s a tell.
When you say “direct,” “direct marketing” or “direct response,” creatives hear, “Let’s just forget about who we are and what we want to stand for, and let’s just trick people into buying stuff.”
When you say “brand response” or “brand direct,” creatives hear, “I’m not sacrificing this brand for sales and I’m not sacrificing sales for this brand. Figure it out!”
Seems a small thing, but wait until you see how well it works! Because when you make it clear that you will settle for no less than success in the short run AND success in the long run, you become the client everyone in the shop wants to work for. You become the inspiring one.
When you show that you don’t buy the false choice between selling and brand building, you’ll see it in the eyes of the creative people you inspire. Because while, yes, a lot of creative people like awards and recognition, that’s not what they live for. What creative people live for is solving the most difficult problems brilliantly.
For more on how to get creative people to make you rich, consider using The 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Brand as your roadmap.
Behind each company we work with, there is at least one inspiring action marketer. Who works with us day in and day out. Who’s on every conference call and in every meeting. Who collaborates with us to align on strategy, creative, and so much more. Whose passion and enthusiasm for ideas inspires us to strive for greatness.
Brands are the present evidence of past marketing visionaries. We don’t buy past performance. We invest in the future, and the future is in the hands of the inspiring action marketer of today. And we invest beyond all calculation in people who inspire us.
That’s why at DiMassimo Goldstein, our clients aren’t companies, they’re marketers. They’re a part of the team. And while the end goal is always business growth, we know that in order to achieve that, we must grow as marketers – and help marketers grow — in the process.
Last week, we got to see fruits of this growth first hand when two of our clients, Jodi Fronczke of TradeStation and Liz Robinson of Sallie Mae, were among those honored as The Gramercy Institute’s “20 Rising Stars in Financial Marketing.”
From left to right: Liz Robinson (Rising Star), Nehal Beltangady, Mark DiMassimo, Jodi Fronczke (Rising Star)
Both Jodi and Liz are smart, hard-working and visionary marketers who deserve every bit of this recognition. They handle every marketing problem that comes their way with absolute grace, rising to the challenge each time. They truly value their partners, and inspire their teams. We couldn’t be more proud of them.
For twenty years, we’ve always put the client first, and when you commit to your client’s success, great things are going to happen. We love working with stars, and now we have an entire constellation. We won’t stop until our stars are lighting up a galaxy!
Congratulations on the honor, Jodi and Liz! And more importantly, thank you for inspiring us every day.
We wrote this over a decade ago, and ever since we’ve been discovering and inventing new ways to organize and inspire word-of-mouth in social networks and beyond. Enjoy!
We’ve all heard the expression, “Word of mouth is the best advertising.” We’ve seen brands built seemingly on strong word-of-mouth alone. But what’s harder to see is the contribution of strong word-of-mouth to brands with significant traditional advertising budgets.
Two hundred million dollar advertisers with negative word-of-mouth are not uncommon, and without fail the word-of-mouth negates the advertising. On the other hand, strong word-of-mouth will multiply a budget, making $15 million work like $150 million. Just consider Starbucks, Crunch Fitness, and JetBlue Airways.
How can you manage word-of-mouth? Start with your heaviest, most loyal users and turn them into Brand Advocates. These are people so passionate about the brand they can’t help but express themselves in your support. Know them. Know what they’re saying. Use planning to learn their word-of-mouth strategies for advocating the brand. Then devise programs to support those strategies.