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.
According to Gartner, top management agrees that brand strategy is the single “Most Vital Marketing Capability.” Let’s do an Inspiring Brand Idea Workshop and accelerate your brand-driven growth. We’re a brand planning agency built for a performance-hungry world. We’ve helped hundreds of clients discover the inspiring idea that organizes and drives growth. The brand idea is the #1 performance driver. While the trend of performance marketing is toward AI automation, brand becomes the sole strategic advantage. I’d be honored to talk with you about your brand. It’s amazing what one workshop can do. You know where to find me.
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.
For decades, Ty Shay has been the change agent that CEO’s dream of.
I was first introduced to Ty while he was the CMO of Hotwire.com.
“You had written a piece…it was about how the goal of the agency should be driving performance while at the same time driving a brand…It seemed like we were kindred spirits, which is why we made the change.” – Ty Shay
And kindred spirits we were. In just three quick years we were able to grow Hotwire.com from a Silicon Valley start-up to a top-five travel website, which is where it was when it sold for $663 million.
Since then, Ty has used the same brand response principles I wrote about in that piece to write his own ticket to any CMO job he wants.
So how can you be like Ty? How can you get any CMO job you want? Listen to the full interview below to find out:
If you’re interested in continuing the brand response conversation, email me at Mark@digobrands.com
Written by James Nieman, Integrated Marketing Manager
The lifespan of a CMO can be short. Some barely last six months. Most don’t make it to see year three.
You don’t have to be most. And you won’t be.
Not if you have the right solutions. Not if you’re surrounded by the right people. Not if you hire the right agency.
And the right agency – the agency that employed CMOs have built fortunes with – is a brand response agency.
That’s because these CMOs – the type of clients that we work for – know that you don’t have to choose between brand building and brand selling. In fact, the idea that the two are mutually exclusive activities is a total myth.
That doesn’t stop most CMOs from believing it. That’s fine. You’re not going to be “most” CMOs… you’re going to be great.
Instead, the marketing campaigns that reap the most profit contain a combination of the two. All activity builds the brand. All activity drives response. We know this because it’s what we’ve been doing for the past 20 years. We know this because we’re the world’s leading brand response agency.
That synergy is hard to achieve. But, when the right people are working to achieve it, it works wonders.
When Warby Parker set out to sell eyeglasses directly to the consumer, they knew they needed to be inventive. The home try-on program immediately increased sales, but it also created a unique buying experience that made them distinct. It was iconic. It drove brand value up while lowering the cost of acquisition.
You don’t work for Warby Parker – we know that. But you could work for the next Warby Parker. The next Dollar Shave Club. The next Casper.
So what can a brand response agency do for you?
A brand response agency gets you the short-term results you need: – Increased sales – Increased leads – Lower cost of acquisition
So that you can impress your shareholders and bosses. You’ve already surpassed the CMO you were brought into replace.
But a brand response agency also works to: – Increase brand value – Reach and acquire totally new sectors of customers – Develop brand devotees – Achieve price elasticity for your products
A brand response agency helps you build a brand that you know will prosper in the future.
A brand response agency gets you to year four.
A brand response agency separates you from “most CMOs.”
Learn how to turn your online presence into an analytic guide to making smart marketing choices in an article our colleague Jeff Pundyk wrote for CMO.com.
Jeff has spent his career creating digital content aimed at professional audiences, most recently at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Now he’s teamed with DIGO Brands – as you know we’re a full service agency with deep B2B roots — to help our clients use digital to connect with clients, prospects, and recruits in a richer, more sustainable way.