On this week’s episode of The A-List Podcast, host and DiMassimo Goldstein CCO, Tom Christmann is joined by none other than, our chief and the founder of DiMassimo Goldstein, the most Inspiring Action agency in the world, Mark DiMassimo!
Okay, we can’t lie, we’re obviously excited about this episode. As chief, Mark has overseen the production a lot of great work in the advertising space over the past 23 years. However, Mark was not always the leader of an ad agency…
After a career as a young entrepreneur and musician, Mark DiMassimo began his second career at twenty-five years old in the direct marketing division of BBDO. There, Mark apprenticed to the Direct Marketing author, Ed Nash, and soaked in the atmosphere at a time when direct marketers were entrepreneurial, and brands where built through direct marketing.
As an account executive and without asking permission, Mark started writing ads for a client that had frustrated the creative department into mass creative block. Instead of being fired, he was invited into the creative department with the proviso, “But you won’t be able to tell us what to do anymore.” With time, he emerged as a pre-eminent creative with his career took off due to his track record of success.
Mark worked on choice assignments and launched major brands with the philosophy of exploiting the blind spots of fellow direct marketers by using brand insights to create integrated brand response advertising campaigns that dramatically out-performed more tactical work.
Mark led integrated creative departments and produced notable work at some of the best creative agencies in the world before founding his own in 1996. He founded DiMassimo Goldstein in the spirit of leading the charge for “a brand revolution among direct marketers and a direct revolution among brand marketers” as well as laying the groundwork for our practice of #InspiringAction.
On this episode, we follow Mark through his career and delve into his gritty origin story from start to finish.
You’re not going to want to miss this one. Listen here!
[3:01-7:25] Mark talks about growing up in NJ and his early upbringing.
[7:26-9:29] Mark’s imagination and first forays into creativity as a profession.
[9:29-13:46] Mark’s super-dark childhood short story and learning how to express himself.
[13:47-16:11] Wayne Dyer’s ‘Erroneous Zones’ as a marketing inspiration.
[16:13 -20:23] SUNY Fredonia, majoring in music, and discovering the library.
[21:17-24:45] Transferring to Cornell and Industrial and Labor Relations.
[24:54-27:44] How he made the switch to communications and ultimately deciding on Advertising as a career path.
[25:00-32:30] BBDO Direct and Mark’s first job working on brand accounts in advertising.
[32:31-40:20] Mark discusses his first creative experiences as a copywriter and being challenged for the first time.
[40:42-49:00] Being laid off, freelancing, and getting copywriter positions.
[49:15-55:59] Mark on his rise through the ranks and deciding to start his very own agency.
“The A-List” is a podcast produced by DiMassimo Goldstein, an inspiring action agency, recorded at the Gramercy Post, and sponsored by the Adhouse Advertising School, New York’s newest, smallest, and hippest ad school. You can subscribe and rate the show on iTunes or listen along on SoundCloud. For updates on upcoming episodes and guests, be sure to like the A-List Podcast on Facebook and follow host Tom Christmann on Twitter.
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!
By: Mark DiMassimo
There, we said it.
It feels good. For so long, we lived a double life, whispering direct words to our business friends while curbing our language around our creative friends.
We weren’t being overcautious. We needed these people to deliver the creative work that would drive the direct revolution. And we knew our target audience. As one creative director memorably said, “Whenever I hear that word, I lose my erection.”
Well, today we have a message for that creative director, his attitude, and every other vestige of the 20th century:
We’re direct. We’re erect. Deal with it.
There aren’t many creative agencies showing up on Inc.’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. We’ve been on the list three years in a row and running. We would have been on it for each of the previous ten years, at least, if only we’d had time to submit our audited financial statements.
Are we having trouble keeping it up? Absolutely not.
We’ve been a thriving, growing independent for two decades because we chose the right wave to ride, and because we kept paddling. That wave was the direct revolution. The direct revolution that is replacing middlemen with platforms, obliterating the hard distinction between consumers and marketers, and threatening traditional players in every marketing category.
Back then, people saw direct marketing as the Thighmaster and the Juiceman, but we knew direct would be Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, Airbnb, Uber, Casper, and Betterment. We knew it would also be companies like Weight Watchers and American Express that were founded in another era but are finding ways to leverage the new platforms to modern-day marketing success.
Today, people want to deal directly with other people, and they’ve come to expect transparency and seamless connectivity. They want a direct experience. And today, creative people want to create direct experiences. They love designing actions that connect and deliver the brand experience through technology. They love building the brand in the interaction. Today, their biggest ideas are mobile, social, and responsive.
Today, we’re helping the pioneers of the direct economy in cultures dominated by technologists and financiers by connecting them with the people who can build their strategies and technologies into brands. Today, more strategies are becoming category-disrupting brands because of the creative people they rub up against.
And today, we’re at the table, redefining modern marketing and building the world’s leading brand response agency.
Today, we’re driving brand value up and cost-per-acquisition down.
Today, we’re inspiring action, and proudly direct.
Key #7 of 10 to Inspiring Action: 10 Keys to the Future of Marketing. Download our summary poster of the 10 Keys here.
One of the best things about doing my Inspiring Action Interviews has been the opportunity to have deep conversations with several of my most successful clients.
These are the CMOs that CEOs worship – marketers who have been highly successful again and again.
A common theme came up as we talked about the formative experiences we’d shared.
“Since that time I’ve been what you’d call a Brand Direct marketer.” – Ty Shay, CMO LifeLock
“That methodology has become the methodology I’ve applied ever since.” – Leslie Dukker Doty, CMO the Reader’s Digest Association
I first wrote about “brand direct” publicly almost twenty years ago. Since then the direct economy has taken over our lives, and just about every industry has been disrupted by it. This has mostly been a very good thing for me, as our clients over the past two decades have been doing more than their share of the disrupting.
Drowning in data, today’s marketers cry out for coherence. Even with programmatic trading desks, dashboards and optimizations, incremental improvements are only detectible to sophisticated machines.
Significant, meaningful, ongoing improvements in marketing efficiency are still possible, however. They simply require more than mere visual and verbal consistency.
The answer begins with a journey of discovery. The path of that journey is the customer journey itself. Together, we learn to see things from the customer’s point of view, from the prospect’s perspective. We uncover the insight – the inspiring idea – that will change and organize everything.
Then, together, we mine that inspiring idea to accelerate growth by up to ten times. Of course, this also dramatically alters the marketer’s journey!
Let’s alter your journey too!
-Mark DiMassimo, Chief