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Tag : brand building

It’s About Your Customers, Stupid.

Written by Tom Christmann

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I needed to refinance my house recently. And if you’ve ever refinanced, or taken a mortgage, you know how time-consuming it can be. The bank needs lots of information about you. They need to know you’re employed. They need to know how much you make. Your credit score. Pay stubs. Assets. Statements. A letter from your dog walker. They want it all.

I tried to do it the usual way. I asked a colleague. He told me he had a great mortgage guy from Bank of America. I gave him a call. He was smart. He spoke in hushed tones about how to work the system. He had just the right loan for me. He told me to send him some an email saying I needed a certain rate and that way he could tell his bosses that he fought the good fight. I did. I had a guy on the inside. He was confident he could help me.

Then he handed me off to other people. These were people I hadn’t talked to. They needed stuff. All of the stuff above (minus the dog walker letter) and more. How did they tell me they needed that stuff? Well, they emailed me. And they sent me packages in the mail. This is how it has been done for twenty years, I told myself. I tried to keep up. I really did.

But I have a job. And I get a lot of emails. And I don’t always check my mail when I get home late. So stuff started to slip. I got more emails. I got voicemail messages. I was told I had stuff to do. And it was on me to get it done. I created to-do lists for myself. I stressed. I missed meetings because I was looking for this statement or that one. I sent messages to my HR people asking for the things I still didn’t have. I called banks and brokerages that I had forgotten the passwords to and asked them to reset those passwords. And then I forgot the passwords again.

One day, I got a letter in the mail saying that my loan status was terminated. I called my guy. He said that I had missed some information and the underwriters needed it and didn’t I check my mail? He started the process over again. But now there was a new wrinkle. My credit score had dropped a bit, (possibly owing to the fact that he had been checking my credit?) so he wasn’t sure he could get me the same rate. He would try, though. Expect a call from one of his associates. I had to email him a few times to make this happen.

So we started again. I now had a new to-do list. The old pay stubs wouldn’t do. I needed new ones. And the statement on my brokerage wasn’t complete enough. And could I fax it all to them? Fax? Honestly? As in facsimile machine. A device patented in 1843. But then it was called the Electric Printing Telegraph.

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I called my inside guy. I asked why nobody had called me to tell me I was late on things. And what was happening now. He seemed annoyed to have to talk to me. He told me that I had dropped the ball. He wasn’t rude. But he made it clear that it had been incumbent upon me to do the work and if I couldn’t do it in their system then he couldn’t help me much. But he was trying.

I was angry. I told him that I was in a service business, too. And if my client had “dropped the ball” on approving a television spot that had to ship, it would be my job to make sure to get them on the phone. Failure to do this would be the end of my relationship with my client. He didn’t see it that way. There were procedures. I didn’t follow them. In the end, I felt like just another number in BofA’s database. Not the best brand experience. I told him to stop the new loan, refund my money and that I’d be looking elsewhere for my loan.

The next week I got seven (yes, seven!) duplicate disclosures for the new loan. I called my guy and asked if he was pranking me. At this point, I could tell in his voice that I was a problem. He condescended to tell me that that’s how it works. He was looking at different products for me and each needed a disclosure mailed out. This was just how it was done. The disclosures had been sent out before our last conversation. But he had cancelled them all. He had refunded my money. Have a good day.

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That’s when I found Rocket Mortgage. I had seen the ads saying you could get a mortgage on your phone. It was fast. It was new. It was to banks what Uber was to car services. I downloaded the app and applied. I expected the same crap. But this time at least I had all my documents ready. I wasn’t going to screw up again. Seriously, I felt bad about myself. Thanks Bank of America.

The first thing I noticed about the Quicken Loan experience (Rocket Mortgage is a Quicken product) was how it was all built around me. I was given one web page where all of my stuff would go. All of the documents could be uploaded there. All of the messages between me and my loan advisor would go there. And if I didn’t check it one day, I would get a text message telling me I needed to go check it out because there was stuff to do.

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Somehow, the app knew how much my taxes were. It could even verify my employment by searching public databases (although this feature didn’t work for me, but I easily uploaded the documents they needed to the site.)

It was responsive. If I left a message in the morning, someone would reply before noon. If I had a question that needed clarification, someone would text me. And if I ever needed to know what was up, I could just check the page. There were no ads trying to sell me other things. This was a page dedicated to ME, with the sole job of closing my refinance as quickly and easily as possible.

I closed on the refinance last week. They sent a title company to my home to do it. At 7pm. I didn’t have to go to them. The only mail I got were my closing documents in a box with some fun branding on it that looked like it was top secret documents and said MORTGAGE POSSIBLE and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY on it. Cheesy, yes. But, again, it was the only mail I got from them. And it felt kind of special in a Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego sort of way.

 

The experience I had with Rocket Mortgage from Quicken was the best ad they ever could have made. I have since learned that they worked for five years on the coding. Thousands of engineers touched the final product. Putting thought and effort into customer experience is an Inspiring Action. It made me feel modern. (Nobody mentioned a fax machine.) It made me feel personal importance. (I had my own page.) And it was all so seamless that even I couldn’t screw it up.

How are you building your brand around your customers? What elements of experience design can you use to make the sales process more modern, personal and seamless? Or are you too busy making an ad that will get more people into the funnel, where they will have to do all the work?

 

A Dispatch From The Future: The OTAcademy Conference

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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!

Bonfire of Clichès

Clichés. Hoary old ideas that won’t die. Every category has them, along with marketers to whom they are sweet music and the be-all-end-all of “what works.” But what happens when all the old ideas stop working? Or when your formerly great idea has been so widely copied that it’s not your idea anymore? Or what if you are just one of those daring marketers who aims for something more than cliché results? How do you get people to go along?

Try a Ritual Burning of the Clichés. Call your team together, including your agency partner or partners. Ask everyone to bring their best examples of category creative. Together, brainstorm an extensive list of clichés. From “free toaster” to “skinny model,” every category has them. Once you have a list, your team may find it very satisfying to actually burn something. It could be the whole pile of clichés or just the worst of the bunch. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Think of it as lighting a fire under the organization.

 

This research says there’s a trade-off between short-term and long-term results. It’s terrific research. It’s also wrong.

By Mark DiMassimo

Here’s the difference between research and brand response marketing:

Research is descriptive. It works from observation of what has occurred.

Brand response marketing is creative, inventive and synergistic. Brand response marketing creates new realities.

This excellent survey looks at many hundreds of marketing campaigns run over several decades and observes that those that performed best in the short run tended to perform worst in the long run. And vice versa. While those in the middle tended to perform best on both sales and brand measures in the long run.

If you’re quite sure you’re going to still have your job in the long run, no matter what you do, then I suppose you can settle for that. You can play the averages.

But, what if you’re like most mortals? What if you actually have to have excellent short-term results in order to earn the privilege of earning excellent long-term results? What if you need to sell and build a brand?

Then, you need more than a paradox, which essentially tells you what you already know — your job is difficult and you’re going to need to achieve a result that is both uncommon and far from the center of the Bell Curve.

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Here’s good news for you: Most of the cases considered in the survey were created by normal marketers. Many of them inadvertently sold out their brands to achieve an acceptable acquisition cost. Some of them knew it and didn’t even care.

Others built brands without a care in the world about the efficiency of their acquisition marketing. Some of these cared more about their reputation for doing famous campaigns than they did about generating results. But many more were probably guilty of nothing more than misplaced faith in the myth that building a brand can solve all problems. It can’t.

And the results of all of those marketers’ campaigns are the data behind this study. In fact, the marketers you will compete with today will be much like these.

But you don’t have to be!

Brand response is not about reducing short term response in order to build long-term brand!

Is that the way Dollar Shave Club got to a billion-dollar valuation in just a few years? Is that they way companies like American Express, at their best, build a new product? Of course not.

Because it’s possible to discover an idea that will organize and change everything An idea based on an insight. And when you know how to apply that idea to brand response creative, you’re likely to measure an extremely favorable change in your acquisition data.

The right idea is inherently brand building, even as it sells harder — and here’s the thing: If it sells harder, it runs more and more people see it. If it builds the brand, and more people see it, then it builds the brand more effectively.

The fact that this synergy is rare — about as rare as successful product introductions — doesn’t mean it is unachievable. In fact, such brand response success can be reliably and predictably achieved. All that it requires is that you have the right people on the team and that they are doing the right things.

You can have better results in the short run that naturally lead to better results in the long run.

Don’t accept any less!

For more on how to drive up brand value while you drive down cost-per-acquisition, read about The Ten Signs of An Inspiring Action Company. Inspiring action companies like Dollar Shave Club, Air BNB and Warby Parker consistently outperform their categories in building brand value and revenue.

Interested to know what Inspiring Action Marketers are obsessed with today? Find out here.

 

The 10 Promises of an Inspiring Action Agency

For twenty years, we’ve been happily helping the innovators of the direct economy take business from the old school intermediaries.

For twenty years, we’ve worked side by side with visionaries helping to create the new direct and platform economy you see all around you.

And, for twenty years, if you weren’t one of our clients, other than our creative work, you probably had no idea what we did.

So, for our 20th Anniversary, if you’ve been one of those clients, we thank you. And, if not, we will tell you:

1) We help the client escape the false choice between selling and brand building.

2) We knock down walls to make results the center of the conversation.

3) We deliver more than enough great creative to test and optimize the great strategic thinking we and our clients have.

4) We bring an uncommon clarity to strategic thinking and our inspiring ideas, which shows in our work.

5) We never settle for the better of a few good ideas – we don’t rest until we get to great.

6) We give the client the power to answer back to sub-optimizing stupidity like mixed-up measurement and last-click laziness.

7) We free the client from the results-killing theft of non-transparent media. (Check out this blog post to learn how)

8) We help the client discover the idea that will organize and change everything.

9) We mine that idea to speed growth by up to 10x and more.

10) We use the ten strategies of an inspiring action brand to do all of the above.

This is why we’re on Inc.’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in America year after year. This is why we’ve stayed happily independent, growing with our clients, focused only on building our clients’ brands and businesses. And this is why the next twenty years are going to be even better than the first.

Thanks for being an inspiring part of our world.

-Mark DiMassimo, Chief

 

Think Small, like Steve Jobs

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“Since founding Apple with engineer Stephen Wozniak, (Steve) Jobs has believed that small teams of top talent will outperform better-funded big ones. He has used the same approach at Pixar, where creative chief John Lasseter has led the way in creating blockbusters like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Jobs also outsources far more selectively than his rivals. He’d rather have all his creatives working together than save a few bucks by outsourcing such work overseas.”  — Business Week

Big ideas come from small teams. Brand building is no exception to the Jobs rule. It is, at its best, a small team activity. That’s why challengers worship the garage and the cocktail napkin, not the multinational conglomeration of bricks and mortar. The team that builds the brand can be the team that creates the advertising. It includes the client and a small, elite agency team. Its mode of operation is total collaboration. Its measure is always the mark, never the compromise. The brands of the future are being built this way.