This story starts with a CMO getting fired, two months into a hundred million dollar campaign.
Fired, after hiring one of the best agencies in the business.
The campaign was expensive to produce. The whole team was so excited that they added a million dollars to the production budget to produce an additional spot.
The goal of the campaign was to recruit more users and activate them.
And here’s the rub – from the day it launched, this campaign drove recruitment numbers down.
Down is what led to out.
The CMO had been a strong marketer, with a record of selling consumer packaged goods, and sweet and salty snacks. But this was a different kind of organization – a behavior change marketing company.
The problem was, this company didn’t understand that they were in the behavior change marketing business.
All the senior leaders came from private equity or packaged goods. Yet this company had a mission to help people improve their wellness. It did so through memberships and subscriptions with a heavy component of education and community.
A year earlier, our friend and former client had gone over to this company to work for the now-former CMO.
Our friend also had a package goods marketing background. To help our friend succeed in his new role, we told him,
“You’re playing a whole new game now, and this game is different. It’s behavior change marketing. That means recruiting members, selling subscriptions, building relationships, smoothing out gaps, drags, and blocks in the membership experience, designing for motivation and momentum at each moment, building a community. You’re playing the long game now.”
He listened politely and then said, “I think you’re right, but I’m new here. My boss has a plan. Let’s see how it goes.”
A year later, after the failed campaign and selling season, we got the call.
“The game plan you were telling me about… I need that now. And I don’t have much time to show a success.”
Behavior change must be taken in steps. It is a series of actions.
Actions are the result of motivation and ease coming together at the same time. The brand can help drive motivation, while design informed by behavioral science can reduce friction and complexity.
Solving the wrong behavior problem at the wrong time is too common. In the true story I told at the top of this post, the failed campaign aimed to recruit new members but focused on a promise to help them through the challenging times down the road.
After that decision, nothing else really mattered. The wonderful creativity of the agency people who worked on the campaign didn’t matter. The amazing production values and gorgeous editing of the spots didn’t matter.
The brilliant integration across platforms, digital and traditional advertising didn’t. The excellent media planning and buying only served to spread the fatal message virus. The wonderful public relations program only ensured that failure would be a famous one.
If you are in the business of helping people make better decisions or form more empowering habits, you are in the business of behavior change. Whether healthier, wealthier, wiser, kinder, saner, calmer, less anxious, better for the planet, happier, fitter, more resilient, a better citizen, better educated, or even just better entertained, if you are helping people to become better versions of themselves, you are in the business of behavior change.
If you are disrupting a category, you ask people to make a different decision and build a different habit. You are in the business of behavior change. If you are working at a non-profit trying to scale positive impact, you are in the business of behavior change.
Marketing, branding, advertising, design, content, and community building for behavior change are different.
When marketers are new to behavior change, their agency contacts aren’t truly knowledgeable about the full range of behavior change marketing skills.
Most agency experience is still packaged goods experience. Shallow strategic thinking about awareness and preference may be appropriate for driving decisions between adjacent cans of soup on a grocery store shelf. This level of thinking is misapplied to behavior change
That’s why assembling a team to tackle these challenges is different too. When you work with the right team, you can achieve amazing and important things.
We can help great marketers become successful behavior change marketers. CEOs and Investors bring us in or recommend us for exactly this purpose.
This story has a happy ending.
We got to work with our friend on this brand and put in twelve quarters of record revenue growth before he left to take the CMO job at another company where his now proven behavior change marketing chops would be highly valued.
Of course, he hired us to work there too, so we got another great brand to work on. And the new management of the now successful first company have been great clients to us ever since.
Increasing recruitment led to over five million people enjoying the life-changing benefits of our client’s excellent service.
As one of our clients likes to say, “Now that ain’t salty snacks.”
About DiMassimo Goldstein (DiGo)
DiMassimo Goldstein (DiGo) is a Behavior Change Marketing agency, trusted by sophisticated marketers and committed change agents to understand complex situations quickly and to bring forward highly-effective creative solutions.
DiGo helps life-changing brands grow by helping people make more inspiring decisions and form more empowering habits.
The brand, advertising and design agency’s clients, from start-ups to blue chips, have built legendary brands that inspire action.
DiGo is applied behavioral scientists, growth strategists, brand planners, designers, writers, marketers, data storytellers, technologists, social and digital media experts, project managers, producers, artists and brand leaders – all of them change agents.
Your name and your logo are the essential seeds of your brand identity. No brand strategy can really get off the ground without these essential elements of identity. Start-ups need to build the brand foundation to power the growth-stage company they will one day be.
Your brand is your most powerful behavior change tool. If you’re disrupting a category, building a new one, promoting a new way of doing things, building subscriptions, memberships, community or a habit, then you’re in the business of behavior change.
Branding for behavior change is different. It’s tools for the present and tools for the long road, for each stage of the customer journey.
That said, it hard for me to imagine “no logo.”
Of course, the company will have a name. If the company has a name, you will need to represent the name in some way. Anyway you choose to represent the name will appear as “the logo.”
If you don’t designate a way of representing the name then you might use whatever typeface you’re working in at any given time to represent the logo.
Apple. Think different.
Nike. Just do it.
DiMassimo Goldstein. Inspiring Action.
This variability will be, in effect, your logo. And, it’s pretty bad.
So, then the question is – what would be worse? A good way to begin to think about this is to think of the strengths of this particular approach to the logo.
For one thing, it’s readable.
An unreadable logo would be worse, especially if the brand wants to stand for clarity, simplicity or ease-of-use.
Apple’s use of the apple icon with the bite out of it isn’t unreadable. We say it’s “iconic” precisely because people look at it and immediately think Apple. Not everyone, of course, but enough people do.
Same goes for Nike’s Swoosh.
The approach to the logo above also has the strength of feeling appropriate for the context it’s in. On the other hand it doesn’t stand out, but blends in.
Kim Kardashian. Nothing to see here.
Blending in is a brand value for some companies, but not for others.
Another thing you can say for the variable Zelig (the Woody Allen character who took on the appearance, dress and behavior of whoever he was with) logo is that it is not especially ugly or stupid or crass or inappropriate.
Diesel. bE sT0oPid
Diesel actually had a successful “Be stupid” campaign. The idea: smart is boring; stupid is more fun. A stupid logo might make sense for them, but would be an absolute disaster for Wells Fargo.
Wells Fargo. sTuPid in LoVE wITh yOUr MoNEy
I would propose that you start out with a good-enough logo.
I started my own company with DiMassimo Inc. as the name, using the Courier typeface that used to be associated with typewritten material. It was the mid 1990s and the world was full of wild, pixelated, digital-influenced type faces, so I thought that Courier said that we didn’t need any flash or pretense – in short, it showed confidence.
It worked well enough until we had a better logo and identity designed.
Apple started as Apple Computer Co. They didn’t have such a great logo.
Microsoft’s first logo was OK…
Amazon’s first logo was no great shakes…
But there is such a thing as a truly awful logo. Some people think Pepsi’s logo is not so great:
Doughboys Pizza has cleaned up it’s logo since this one. I know what you’re thinking – no, with a designer!
Also, today it’s important to make sure your logo isn’t offensive in and outside your own borders and culture. This one from Locum in Sweden is particularly unfortunate.
I tried hard to confirm this last one because it’s a pretty unbelievable fail. From all I can find it appears real, although it may have been a company holiday card design rather than an all-year logo. The company currently has a more regular typographic mark, which now looks more like I o cum. So, better.
Now, you know a firm with just this specialization, because you know our name and you know our logo.
Behavioral science tells us that most marketing strategies overemphasize motivation. Moderately motivated people are more likely to do what’s easy than highly motivated people are to do what’s hard.
Ease beats motivation. That explains the fate of most New Year’s Resolutions.
Google’s competition had gone in for massive cross-selling and indexing. Yahoo and Netscape’s homepages were cluttered with links.
Behavioral economists confirm what direct marketers long knew – choice depresses response.
Why, because simple is easier, and ease is the single most important factor in designing for behavior change.
Google had a simple search bar, a logo and that’s it. Faster is easier.
And, the distance in time between action and reward increases effectiveness geometrically. That’s why Google uses a little of its precious homepage real estate – to tell you exactly how many nanoseconds it took to get your result.
A hint: If you’re not sacrificing, you don’t care enough.
90% of what we do to help our clients succeed, you will never hear about. We do it because we care. We do it because we are obsessed with client success. We do it because it’s more fun and more inspiring to have successful friends.
There are things we do for which the client should get all the credit. They do. We have a few terrific clients for whom we do exceptional work, but whom we can’t talk about. We don’t.
Everything we do is a collaboration, and the success of the collaboration is the client’s success. A significant part of what we do, we do when the client is between jobs. There is no bill. There is no expectation of future gain. You’ll never hear a word about these services, unless you happen to be one of those clients.
I hear Nordstrom stories and Zappos stories and I think… if only people could hear our stories, they would be even more amazed… but discretion is one of the most important commitments we make to our clients.
Client success isn’t the same as “customer success.” It’s not just about being happy with our product. Client success is client success and fulfillment in career and life.
People talk a lot about KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators. They use various words to talk about them.
“What are your KPI’s?”
“What are your key metrics?”
“Do you have numbers you must hit?”
Merely accepting the first answer is a mistake. Remember, your aim at this point is to be a master appreciator. From great appreciation comes great inspiration.
Do not do what most people do. Do not merely accept the KPI’s, dutifully write them down to show you’re paying attention, and then move on to other things.
Instead, continue to drill in with questions in a Socratic attempt to appreciate why these are the KPIs.
When you understand why these are the KPIs, you will have built a mental model that allows you to think and imagine outcomes just as a CEO, board member or key investor in the company does.
If you understand why the KPIs are the KPIs, then you will be able to see change coming to those factors that affect success for the business. You will also be able to question the KPIs and help the client focus on the Performance Indicators that are truly Key.
For example, we worked for many years with an electronic broker. We asked the question, “What key measures drive the creation of value in the company? What key measures drive growth?”
After some discussion we got to three:
Increasing the total number of active clients. Increasing client trading activity Increasing the total number of assets in accounts. After some discussion, we decided that only the first two measures – the number of clients and their level of trading activity – were important drivers of value at that time. The reason for this was that interest rates were very low and therefore deposits were not a significant source of revenues, profits or business value.
Fortified with this appreciation of the drivers of growth in the value of this business, we were able to confidently move on to our next steps in generating that growth – asking and answering the question:
What key actions or behaviors drive those KPIs?
The KPI “increasing the number of total clients” was driven mostly by increases in the numbers of new funded accounts.
So, the behavior that would drive growth in this KPI was, “More customers opening new accounts and funding them.”
This was wonderfully focusing.
Increasing client trading activity was the second key driver of growth. Whereas in other categories, marketers are focused on increasing revenue per customer – for example, people who run shoe stores want to sell more pairs of shoes per customer and people who run e-commerce sites want to increase the average cart size – retail brokers had remained focused on acquiring new customers.
There were exceptions. We helped Tom Sosnoff, Lee Barba, Ainslee Simmonds and Lee McAdoo build thinkorswim (now part of TD Ameritrade) from a small and interesting digital options broker to a powerhouse with the industry’s most valuable customers.
Sosnoff, a savvy trader, was an even savvier entrepreneur, a born teacher and a natural movement leader. In short, he made options trading cool and never played down the risk or danger. This got thinkorswim to the summit base camp from which it would begin an even more rapid ascent.
Options traders trade a lot and pay well for their trades. When thinkorswim merged with Investools – a pioneer and leader in the online education space – they immediately had a way to dramatically scale the creation of new options traders.
People paid good money to Investools to teach them how to trade options. In exchange, Investools helped them to transform themselves into active options traders. Investools needed a platform for these student traders to trade on. It would have to offer simulated trading as well as real live trading.
Thinkorswim fit the bill perfectly.
Now, Investools students would learn to trade on the thinkorswim platform.
In addition, Investools substantial graduate list of tens of thousands of active options traders became available to thinkorswim for remarketing. Half of those former students became thinkorswim clients.
Next, thinkorswim began to integrate Investools training into its platform and customer service offerings. This increased trading volume and dramatically grew the value of the business.
The key insight here: new trading concepts and ideas lead to more trades.
We would mine this insight for our new client and take it even further, programming trade ideas into software apps that could also execute the trades.
Since our key driver of grow was increased trading volume, which we thought of as increased volume per client, the behavior that would drive this growth was defined as “one more trade per customer per month.”
This would make a real difference in the value of the business, and it was just a start. Just trading volume summit base camp, a milestone on our way to the top.
Since the behavior was “the client makes one more trade per month” we went to work to address the blocks to that behavior. Our clients were already more active than nearly all the other retail brokerage clients in the industry. But, what kept them from being even more active?
Remember that if you want to increase a behavior, you need to combine motivation and ease in the same moment – (MxE)Same Moment = Behavior.
We spent thousands of hours watching traders trade. We got to know their multi-screen set-ups and the joys – and sometimes intimacy avoidance – of their basement trading lairs. We interviewed scores of them and the interviews were so compelling that we edited several of the audio recordings and paired them with animation to create authentic and effective tv commercials and digital videos.
The motivation was there. They wanted to trade more. In front of their screen was the moment. They only lacked the ideas, they told us.
All the time that wasn’t spent trading was spent trolling for ideas. They loved the trading. The trolling for ideas was the hard work that made the trading possible.
More ideas, delivered in the moment they are in front of their screens, made as easy as possible to understand and execute, would unlock the behavior we were looking for.
Trading ideas, programmed and ready to download and execute like apps on a mobile device, did the trick.
Traders reported being more satisfied and improved their performance. We got our one more trade per client per month and that was just the beginning of the growth in trading volume.
As a master change agent, you’ll bring the much-needed clarity to each situation. You’ll walk into rooms where everything seems important and the list of things to be solved is as long a Vaynerchuk’s YouTube feed.
And you’ll go right to the essentials.
What measures most affect growth? What behaviors drive those measures? With those questions asked and answered, you’ll get down to work.
How do we make those behaviors motivating and easy (in the same moment)? You are well on your way to building your Theory of Change. The next steps help you prioritize and focus still further.
Here, I’m going to try to get you to do something that, for most of us, doesn’t come naturally, something that just feels wrong.
It will fly in the face of your professional training. You will find it very hard to get there by using your normal processes. When you even suggest doing something along these lines, you will face immediate resistance. People may think you’re crazy. People may call you crazy. People may use the “crazy” word to shut down all conversation around the idea and make the discomfort go away.
Most of us believe that marketing is trying to put a good face on our product or service. Most of us look for the benefits. Most of us believe that a certain amount of “positive spin” is absolutely essential to “work that sells.” And most of us have some successes to show for these beliefs.
If your product or service is good, if there aren’t great alternatives, and for a while, this level of marketing communications will probably work. And yet the greats have done something very different. They’ve told the truth that most marketers would view as ugly, and in doing so they have stolen the show, and significant market share.
Nike. Dove. Starbucks. Dominos. Telling the ugly truth is a strategy challengers use to become market leaders and market leaders us to remain market leaders.
Our core client is an organization or brand led by people who are committed to their doing good and being better.
That said, many potentially good organizations have much to feel embarrassed about.
There is a tendency to hide the struggle and the failings and thereby inadvertently hide the hero’s journey. As a business leader I have been guilty of this much of the time, missing the opportunity to engage others with the facts of our very human struggle.
I have sought out authentic entrepreneurs as clients so that I can be continuously exposed to the challenging and edifying example of people who tell the radical truth.
Change agents tell the truth. They believe in radical candor. The look for the truth that remains unsaid. They use it to unblock progress, and it works.
For the company with its heart in the right place, a sort of insane honesty can show confidence and clarity of thought and charm while earning trust. Here are some corporate PR examples, followed by some advertising examples.