I first met this modern-day renaissance man when I was randomly seated next to him 30,000 feet up in the air on a flight to visit a particularly concerned client. Over the course of the next three hours, Mark shared some insights that inspired me to completely alter my approach before entering the meeting.
Those insights? You’ll have to listen to find out on this very special episode of “The Inspiring Action Podcast”!”
Mark S. A. Smith is sales and growth guru to the gurus. As an electrical engineer, computer programmer, hardware salesman, author, speaker, trainer, coach and marketing guru, there’s really no end to his list of expertise. Having knowledge and success in so many different fields, Mark can speak to business and growth like few others.
Mark DiMassimo: Welcome to the Inspiring Action show. This is your host, Mark DiMassimo. I met today’s guest on a United flight from New York City to Denver many years ago. I was traveling to meet a particular challenging client and frankly I was really concerned about the meeting. I introduced myself to my seat mate as he got settled and the conversation took off like a rocket. I soon discovered that I had several of his books in my library and I decided to put away my laptop and take advantage of three uninterrupted hours to have a conversation. What a conversation it was. I’m glad I did because he shared with me, at 30,000 feet, an insight about my Denver client that inspired me to take a completely different approach at the meeting. The result, instead of a difficult, fruitless discussion, it was the most successful meeting ever and I was able to inspire them to see our ideas in a new way so that they made a new decision that created new success for them.
Mark DiMassimo: I personally experienced what this guy can do to help inspire customers, take action. He changed things for me and that’s why I’m such a believer. I’m delighted to have Mark S A Smith on our program today. He’s a sales and marketing guru helping people move from darkness to light in the world of business and he’s co-authored three books with “Guerrilla Marketing” author Jay Conrad Levinson. One of my true heroes, Jay Conrad Levinson, author of “Guerrilla Marketing”. You may know, my agency has won quite a few Guerrilla Marketing awards. We just love this guy. One of the books I have that Mark co-wrote, “Guerrilla Selling”, fantastic. He’s written many more books for specific technology niches and custom books for clients and it’s funny. He has a degree in electrical engineering but for the past 25 years, he’s co-owned and operated a marketing company focusing on helping companies launch disruptive products and services. The secret to selling disruptive products is inspiring new actions in the market, so his expertise matches our mission for this Inspiring Action program.
Mark DiMassimo:Today we’re going to talk about how to inspire sales action, getting customers to make decisions. Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark S A Smith: Thank you. Mark, with a introduction like that, I can’t wait to hear what we have to say. I do remember that first time we met. It was really interesting because you pulled out your Mac Book Air to do some work …
Mark DiMassimo: That’s right. That’s right.
Mark S A Smith: … and then you closed it and said, “I can do this later but I can’t always talk with you.”
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely. I’ll tell you, you maybe were seven words in and I remember thinking, “Oh boy, I think this guy may have what I need,” and, boy, did I need. I really thought that my client relationship there was on the verge of ending. By the way, this is one of our longest term, happiest client relationships now. I just did not understand why we were getting so much negative feedback through our work. We were just very used to, we worked so hard, we cared so much. We were really so used to clients standing up and clapping like [inaudible 00:03:52] at our work and this is a client who really was poking holes, looking for every problem in our work and I just did not have the conceptual tools to understand what I was dealing with and, man, you did.
Mark S A Smith: I’m grateful that you’ve been so successful and perhaps on a future podcast we can talk about that particular event and the strategy I shared with you. Today, what I’d like to do is talk with you about motivation and inspiration, why they’re different. Let’s talk about inspiration. I’ve been inspired by your podcast to really dig into this concept and put some words into play. I’ve been a professional speaker for 25 years but people say, “Are you a motivational speaker?” No, not really. It’s not how I look at it. The reason why is because inspiration is being mentally stimulated to feel or act in a new way, preferably creatively. The concept on inspiration is to help people become creative. Of course that describes you, describes your team, describes your company and that’s why I think this podcast is so important for our audience.
Mark DiMassimo: Mark, you’ve had like [inaudible 00:05:14].
Mark S A Smith: The thing to keep in mind … yeah.
Mark DiMassimo: You’ve had 10,000 hours on the platform. You are a speaker among other things and people are saying…
Mark S A Smith: Yeah, I’ve been doing this a long time.
Mark DiMassimo: … “Come and motivate us.” 25 years, right? Something like that. “Come and motivate us,” and you’re saying, “No, I’m not there to motivate you. You’re there to motivate yourself.”
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: “I’m there to inspire you.”
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: Is that what you said?
Mark S A Smith: That’s it. That’s right. What I tell people is getting motivated is only a piece of it but what you really want is to have sustainability. Inspiration’s internal like you take a breath. You inspire. It’s all within you. It’s the influence of a higher power. It transforms how we view the world. It creates a more resourceful state. In fact, if I can’t inspire somebody to be more resourceful after our conversation, I haven’t inspired them. The word inspiration implies divine guidance. While frequently it’s a taboo to discuss divinity in the world of business, the reality is that all of this has some connection to a higher power, even those of us that say, “No, there is no god.” Still we know there’s something bigger, there’s something vaster out there that we connect into when we stop and that’s the idea behind inspiration. While this idea might be a little bit shocking, inspiration is rooted in love. Stay with me. I intent to explore that idea with you in this program.
Mark DiMassimo: Please.
Mark S A Smith: Don’t get freaked out but that’s truly it. The idea is shocking. Motivation is external.
Mark DiMassimo: Help me. I’d love to go deeper into this and I want to tell you frankly that I think of myself as an inspiring guy, as somebody who’s very good at persuading people to feel more resourceful and to become more themselves, people in companies and all of that. I’ve had some situations where I’ve been stumped lately where I could feel that I was dealing with, let’s say, a team that had taken a lot of hits and they weren’t feeling resourceful and they weren’t letting in the inspiration anymore. They weren’t playing anymore. I suppose I felt threatened by this because when they can’t play and they can’t perform, that’s anxiety for me and so I felt very moved and motivated to see what I could do to help them. I guess what I wanted to give them was love but I didn’t have a clear idea of exactly how I might deliver it. What would you say about a situation like that?
Mark S A Smith: Let’s dig a little deeper before we come back to that situation and the reason why is I want to give you a platform to self analyze. I don’t want to troubleshoot it. I want to give you the tools to troubleshoot it.
Mark DiMassimo: Fantastic.
Mark S A Smith: That’s what we do as inspirational people. We give people tools versus … We teach them fish and then sell them a lot of beer. What I want to do is share with you a model that really helped me get inspiration in a whole new way. It’s a model you already know about. You’ve used it for years and yet I want to show it to you in a new way that allows you to use it as a whole new tool to implement inspiration. That is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Mark S A Smith: If you think about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy, we’ve all learned this stuff. We learn it in marketing. We learn it in psychology and a lot of people go, “blah, blah, blah, Maslow’s triangle.” It’s really not a triangle. It’s not a pyramid. It’s a hierarchy of needs. Just to do a quick recap, there’s five levels that he talked about, physical needs, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self actualization. If you think about those five levels, where can inspiration occur? Can it occur at the physical need level? Not really.
Mark DiMassimo: I would say not really, although it can occur if that level is not fed, right?
Mark S A Smith: The problem with that [crosstalk 00:10:13] level, it becomes-
Mark DiMassimo: That was something Maslow said, right?
Mark S A Smith: It becomes motivation versus inspiration and motivation’s external.
Mark DiMassimo: I see. I see. I see.
Mark S A Smith: Inspiration’s internal.
Mark DiMassimo: Got it. Got it.
Mark S A Smith: People are motivated to find food. They’re not inspired to find food. They don’t see the world in a different way when they’re motivated and that’s a big differentiation to keep in mind. There’s a huge difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is unsustainable without an external influence. You have to keep motivating people-
Mark DiMassimo: Inspiration is internal. Motivation is expiration.
Mark S A Smith: Yes. That’s right. It’s external. That’s right. Safety, again, for people at that level, they can only be motivated. They can’t be inspired. It’s only when we get to the upper three levels that inspiration’s even possible. Love and belonging, so my initial position is that inspiration is rooted in love. Love and belonging, there we can start to inspire people to belong to something bigger than them. We can inspire them to love their family and to love their country and to love their jobs, to love their customers. Then we get esteem. That’s about loving yourself.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: Right? That’s about inspiring yourself to esteem and, at the top, self actualization. That’s loving bigger than who you were in the past to be bigger in the future. Inspiration occurs at the top three levels of Maslow’s, motivation the bottom two levels. Given that, could you assess your situation and say, “Did your team have some issues with the hierarchy of needs where they were uninspirable because of something going on politically or something going on physiologically”? If somebody was sick, if there’s a lot of fear in the organization, inspiration’s just not possible.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes. Wow. That really helps because that was my challenge. I felt like I needed an inspired team in order to inspire a client but the team was telling me it’s very hard to be inspired at this moment. Now, they were tired, having pulled all-nighters. They were frustrated …
Mark S A Smith: That’s it.
Mark DiMassimo: … having felt like they failed the previous …
Mark S A Smith: That’s it.
Mark DiMassimo: … six times to connect.
Mark S A Smith: That’s an esteem problem.
Mark DiMassimo: They needed to sleep and eat and recover before they could be inspired.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. See, people have to have the lower level of hierarchy in place and cared for before they can become inspired and you may have to progress them up the hierarchy to be able to inspire them. This implies that they have to feel physically comfortable, safe, part of the group and held in esteem before you can inspire them to something beyond and bigger. Just to recap, I believe that the top three level of the hierarchy are based in love, love of others, love of self and love of life. In my experience, you can’t inspire without loving those who you inspire and loving the idea that you’re sharing to inspire.
Mark S A Smith: When you feel inspired, Mark, have you ever said, “I love that idea?”
Mark DiMassimo: 17 times a day.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. There you have it.
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely.
Mark S A Smith: There you have it. In fact …
Mark DiMassimo: Love it. Love it.
Mark S A Smith: … the politician’s downfall is-
Mark DiMassimo: Love, love, love.
Mark S A Smith: That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s what allows you to tap into that energy that passes it onto somebody else and they want to be a part of it. The politician’s downfall, Mark, is you can’t inspire those who you hold in contempt.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: If your team is looking at a client that they go, “They’re a bunch of jerks,” there’s no way you can inspire them. I’m sure that you’ve fired clients that you couldn’t feel inspired about because they’re uninspirable. You cannot do this. It’s the same thing for parenting. You can’t parent children if you hold them in contempt. You can’t inspire anybody who you hold in contempt. You have to have the capacity to love them and want them to be bigger than they are to inspire them.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes, but, Mark, I want to ask you about this. Look, I know from personal experience that contempt can be something that is a natural reaction to people who behave in a contemptible way but that contempt can also be a self protective habit that can undermine the possibility of having positive relationships with people who …
Mark S A Smith: That’s true.
Mark DiMassimo: … are worth having positive relationships with. Very often when people are feeling whatever it is, tired, hungry, scared, low self esteem because they fail, that defense mechanism becomes contempt and this is what frightens me because I hate to see the possibility not seized because [crosstalk 00:15:50] …
Mark S A Smith: On the other side of that-
Mark DiMassimo: … are defending themselves with contempt.
Mark S A Smith: Sure. Contempt is a way for them to mitigate that safety level of Maslow’s hierarchy. If they don’t feel safe, they’re going to use contempt and attempt to protect themselves …
Mark DiMassimo: That’s right.
Mark S A Smith: … because contempt helps keep them from engaging in something that they see as being unsafe and I want to talk a little bit more about that particular concept in just a couple of moments when we talk about what is it that holds people back from inspiring or being inspired because there is an element there of fear. I don’t want to get into that but I want to get back to Maslow’s hierarchy for just a moment, unless you have a comment to add.
Mark DiMassimo: Sure. No, no. Sure.
Mark S A Smith: All right, so-
Mark DiMassimo: I’m going to try to get us into marketing and talk about agencies and sales as well, too, but I am fascinated by … You’ve taken something that was just sort of like the wallpaper behind the wallpaper, Maslow’s hierarchy, and you’ve brought it back to life for me so I am riveted. Suddenly I feel like, oh, now I know what to do in those situations. I’m having the same kind of feeling of epiphany that I had on that airplane where, wow, now I have a tool that’s going to make situations that did not make sense to me make sense. I want to hear you take this to its completion, please.
Mark S A Smith: Sure and I want to add another layer. While many people are familiar with the idea of Maslow’s hierarchy, what most people don’t know is this part of Abraham’s work. When people get frustrated when attempting to satisfy a higher need, they regress to a lower level of need until they find satisfaction. For example, people need esteem more than self actualization. That’s where inspiration is. When you inspire, you can’t inspire too high, otherwise people get frustrated, and you have to support this with them belonging and esteem. People have to see that what you’re offering to inspire them is within their reach. What this also implies is that you have to be at the self actualization yourself to inspire others. You can’t do it if you’re not a fully baked person or if you’re a sick person or if you don’t have your needs taken care of. This means you have to work on you if you’re going to work on others.
Mark S A Smith: That, I think is a really important point-
Mark DiMassimo: You put the oxygen on yourself first.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Yes.
Mark DiMassimo: Okay. Yes. Wow.
Mark S A Smith: That’s, to me, an important thing for people to talk about that is rarely discussed is that concept of frustration will drive people back down in their hierarchy and what we get to do-
Mark DiMassimo: Does this help to explain why people eat when they’re frustrated at the esteem level or at the …
Mark S A Smith: Oh sure.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah, very interesting.
Mark S A Smith: Sure. Frustration could be something … That’s right. Let’s go out and get a dessert because I can satisfy that physiological level or I’m going to lock myself in my office for a while because that’ll help my safety level. I’m going to pet my dog because that helps me with my belonging level. They’ll work their way back up because it’s easy. They know how to satisfy their needs at those lower levels. Then they can satisfy some of the frustration before taking another run at a higher level.
Mark DiMassimo: Makes a lot of sense.
Mark S A Smith: You do that instinctively in your organization. I visited your offices. I love your offices and your offices …
Mark DiMassimo: Thank you.
Mark S A Smith: … support all five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. You make sure that when people come in, the first thing you do is see if they need some food or drink. Beautiful. Physiological needs. Your environment is safe. It’s open. People are friendly. There’s no-
Mark DiMassimo: Recognize people by name, that’s belonging, right?
Mark S A Smith: That’s exactly right. Then self esteem, we’re really glad you’re here. You do a lot of things to recognize your team, the awards on the wall. Then you have musical instruments.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah, yeah.
Mark S A Smith: That’s part of that self actualization. You give people the ability to draw and paint and to create and to sing and to dance. That’s all those levels. Your organization supports all of that so people can be inspired at all those levels.
Mark DiMassimo: It’s fascinating for me because we have long since decided that our culture is built on three values that underpin this idea of inspiring action and one of them is love. I never really understood why we just felt that love was in the air, love was what it took, love was what it was about. It felt right to us, even though it’s not the sort of thing, sort of like what you said about the divine, the higher power stuff. It’s not the sort of thing you talk about in a business context comfortably, right, or that most people do. It’s not an advertisement we make for ourselves. You’re not going to get a note from us in the male that says, “Hire us because we’re all about love,” at least you weren’t going to get one of those. We have felt that way and now I understand better why it works, why it’s essential.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Mark DiMassimo: Interesting.
Mark S A Smith: Yes. The underlying concept, the underlying idea behind inspire is love. You don’t necessarily have to be overt with the word love other than I love that idea, I love our clients, however you choose to express it. Unfortunately in our society, saying, “I love you,” to somebody who you’re not married to, somebody who’s not part of your inner circle, you’re kind of looked on as being a little weird, although I tell people I love them all the time. It’s my expression to them.
Mark DiMassimo: I say I’m basically an Italian American guy so I’m allowed.
Mark S A Smith: You are allowed.
Mark DiMassimo: I have my [inaudible 00:22:38]. The fact that I throw out that disclaimer from time to time means that it’s not exactly normal. If I was worried about being normal, there’s a lot I wouldn’t be able to do in my life.
Mark S A Smith: That’s why you’re the president of your company. You get to do it your way.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah. That’s right. Amen. It’s good to be the king.
Mark S A Smith: It is good to be king. Let’s talk about why you want to inspire. I think that’s an important component. We just talked about what inspiration is and kind of put a model around that but why do we inspire? The reason why I do what I do is to transform people. I mentioned that at the beginning of our conversation. To me, the transform, it’s the buzz. It’s why I do what I do. I would speak for free. Don’t tell my clients that but I would speak for free because of the buzz I get out of taking people to a new place that’s more resourceful. People are different after they’ve found a more resourceful attitude or more resourceful ability or more resourceful action because of inspiration. Inspiration can do all three of those. Attitude, ability and action and in our particular conversation it’s inspiring to action. It can also be attitude or ability, which enable action. They’re transforming. The world is a different place. Mark, you are a different person than you were 30 minutes ago because of a conversation around Maslow’s triangle and inspiration.
Mark DiMassimo: Really.
Mark S A Smith: That’s inspiration, my friend. That is transformation. Quite frankly, you inviting me on this show created transformation because it caused me to stop and to put into words some of the things I haven’t done before. You and I as colleagues have a different level of conversation than I have with an audience. I’m not going to show them the secrets behind the curtain unless they hire me to do that but you and I, we share our secrets. It’s what we do. Thank you for that change [crosstalk 00:24:42].
Mark DiMassimo: I have to go back to that original conversation on the plane because I’ve been living the results of that conversation and the tools you gave me at 30,000 feet. As a result, not only do I have a great relationship with this client but you opened up for me an entire world of clients, maybe 35% of the people that I could work with that I didn’t understand how to work with before. They just didn’t operate in a way I understood and, therefore, I was destined before that conversation to have difficult and frustrating relationships with these people. After that conversation, not only am I able to have good relationships with those people, inspiring relationships with those people, productive relationships, but I also walked into every conversation with a higher degree of confidence and resourcefulness because I know that I have the tools for dealing with different kinds of people effectively that I did not have before that one conversation. That’s how transformative this can be.
Mark S A Smith: Yes, it can. The good news, it doesn’t have to be that big of a transformation.
Mark DiMassimo: Right, people are going to say, “No, this is like a Moony thing, right? What, is this like a cult?”
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Mark DiMassimo: Don’t go away. This is very pragmatic. It’s very practical.
Mark S A Smith: Yes, it is. This is-
Mark DiMassimo: Very down to Earth. This is nothing too crazy.
Mark S A Smith: Keep in mind I’m an electrical engineer by training.
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely and I am the son …
Mark S A Smith: My feet are on the ground. I-
Mark DiMassimo: … of an electrical engineer.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. That’s exactly right. Getting back to this concept of inspiration and transformation, it doesn’t have to be a big transformation. It can be just as simple as that your customer had the most fun they’ve had all day or it could be the best bite of food they’ve had in a week or it could be the most heartwarming smile they experienced today. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Transformation can be small. Doesn’t have to be immense. The outcome of inspiration is always transformation and when you truly inspire transformation, you win because you get a big boost and the good brain chemistry that makes people happy, especially you. Since most of us are in pursuit of happiness, one of our given rights in this country, inspiration is …
Mark DiMassimo: Yes. Yes. Pursuit of happiness.
Mark S A Smith: …. a lot … That’s right. The pursuit of happiness is to inspire others to transform so you get happy. That’s why I love to inspire.
Mark DiMassimo: You’re saying that’s not just you and me, that that’s something that’s built into us as human beings, that we get to sort of a certain level of that hierarchy and then we get a charge out of transforming others?
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. We get a charge out of inspiring others to transform. We don’t transform others.
Mark DiMassimo: Oh, okay. Inspiring-
Mark S A Smith: We inspire them to transform.
Mark DiMassimo: Got it. Got it.
Mark S A Smith: Remember, inspiration is internal. I motivate others but the moment that I remove that motivation, they may go back to their old ways.
Mark DiMassimo: Got it.
Mark S A Smith: The idea behind the transformation is it’s a change that is permanent.
Mark S A Smith: (music)
Mark DiMassimo: You are listening to the Inspiring Action show. This is your host, Mark DiMassimo, and with me today is Mark S A Smith and we are talking about inspiration, what it really is, what makes it different from motivation and I’d love to move on if you feel it’s a good time, Mark, to …
Mark S A Smith: Sure.
Mark DiMassimo: … talk a little bit about the role of marketing in an agency like ours and the function of sales. In short, how do you view marketing in creating inspiration to take action?
Mark S A Smith: Sure.
Mark DiMassimo: How does this impact …
Mark S A Smith: Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about that. There are six elements that are required for any business to be successful, every business to be successful. You have to have a product that creates value for our target market. You have to have a marketing that inspires conversation. In my opinion, marketing is all about having a conversation with somebody. If marketing doesn’t inspire a conversation, in your particular case the action you want people to have is a conversation, then it’s not marketing. It’s a waste of money. That’s Jay Levinson’s, you know. Marketing has to create action as a guerrilla.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: Then the third thing we have to have is sales that inspires a transaction. If we can’t get our sales to have a transaction where we trade money for services or goods, it’s a waste of time, it’s a waste of resources. It’s always about inspiring that transaction. Fourth thing is customer service that inspires loyalty. We don’t get loyalty until after a customer does business with us. It’s the customer service that’s going to inspire that attitude and those actions to have loyalty. If we don’t have a good solid customer service, then all that work we do at the front end with marketing and sales is going to get drained way as the customers leave us as fast as they come.
Mark S A Smith: The fifth thing we have to have is something that you have done extremely well. In fact, you are my model of this and that is culture that inspires an unforgettable brand. For example, your [digo 00:30:45] culture document, is the best and you know I use that as the exemplar any time I do culture training. That is it.
Mark DiMassimo: Fantastic.
Mark S A Smith: I hold it up and say, “The best, this is it. I you want a model, use this as your starting point, such as this is a for-profit organization,” and everybody applauds. The idea is it inspires an unforgettable brand and my definition of brand is it’s a customer experience that people want to repeat, they can’t get it anywhere else, they’re willing to pay for, they’ll tell their friends about. That’s what creates a valuable brand.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes. Yes.
Mark S A Smith: It’s the culture that generates that. The sixth name you need is infrastructure-
Mark DiMassimo: What’s … Oh, go on.
Mark S A Smith: The sixth thing is infrastructure that supports scaling and growth. That’s kind a physical type of thing but notice that five of those elements are going to create something inspiration. If the product is disruptive, it’s going to inspire a new world. Marketing has to be inspirational, has to be, to create those conversations. Sales has to be inspirational to create those transactions. Customer service has to be inspirational to create loyalty. Culture as to inspire a unforgettable brand.
Mark DiMassimo: What do you say-
Mark S A Smith: That’s how I see inspiration permeating an organization.
Mark DiMassimo: What do you say about the trend of mind that seems to attempt to collapse all of those levels down into the product? In other words, and I won’t repeat it back to you as perfectly as you said it but in other words, think about Google. A product that not only delivers an incredible service but is inherently word of mouth, engagement and share-worthy, connected to a brand name, it’s a self-cleaning oven, sales is not necessary. Marketing is not necessary. What do you say to that point of view?
Mark S A Smith: I say that that will work if you create a disruptive enough product that people are willing to tell their friends about, can’t get anywhere else, are willing to pay for. It gets back to that brand statement. It has to be disruptive and the reason why we use Google is because it is disruptive.
Mark DiMassimo: Hell yes.
Mark S A Smith: It is completely disruptive and Google is absolutely inculcated in my life and it knows all about me and I’m really glad it does because it makes my life seamless.
Mark DiMassimo: Mark, Mark, could you give us your definition of disruptive for our audience? This is a word a lot of people throw around and I just have the feeling that not everybody defines disruptive innovation or a disruptive product in the same way.
Mark S A Smith: I’ll be glad to. Disruptive means that once you’re exposed to it, your world changes and you will not go back to the status quo.
Mark DiMassimo: Got it.
Mark S A Smith: The best example of that is five years ago, Mark, when you wanted to watch a movie, what did you do? When you wanted to watch a movie at home, what did you do?
Mark DiMassimo: Went to the video store, spent at least as much time browsing as I would spend later watching the movie and-
Mark S A Smith: Right, you went to Blockbuster.
Mark DiMassimo: Went to Blockbuster, yeah. See, I forgot their name.
Mark S A Smith: You went to Blockbuster.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah.
Mark S A Smith: Today when you want to watch a movie at home, what do you do?
Mark DiMassimo: Oh my god. Netflix, free, pay-per-view, Hulu, Amazon Prime. I use the internet. A mobile device-
Mark S A Smith: 1,700 Blockbuster … That’s right. 1,700 Blockbuster stores no longer exist. That’s disruptive technology.
Mark DiMassimo: That whole industry is gone.
Mark S A Smith: That is disruptive technology. It took us a little time to make that transition from going down to Blockbuster and picking out a movie to doing it, although it happened fast. Another example of disruptive technology is the smart phone. You know, Mark, we’ve only had iPhones for seven years. That’s it. Can you imagine your life without a smart phone?
Mark DiMassimo: Not really, although sometimes I like to think about it.
Mark S A Smith: Keep in mind it’s there for your convenience. You can turn it off.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes, I guess I know. I can but [crosstalk 00:35:58] hard.
Mark S A Smith: You’re part of that offline movement so you know you could turn it off. Oh, no. You know the hardest part.
Mark DiMassimo: It’s habit forming.
Mark S A Smith: The hardest part is … What’s habit forming is this feeling that there is something bigger and better than where you are and who you’re with. That’s what’s habit forming.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: What we have to do is get back to the concept of when you’re eating a meal, turn off your phone so that you can enjoy the food that you’re putting in the body. One of the joys of being in a human body is meals, food, drink, the feeling, the taste, the experience, the camaraderie, the connection. We have to get back. Most people eat while they’re watching their phone and they completely miss the experience. If I was a chef and I put that much effort into preparing an extraordinary meal and had people looking at their phone as they were consuming, I’d slap it out of their faces like, “Go eat McDonald’s, you pig.”
Mark DiMassimo: You would transform them physically. You would physically transform. Get out of my restaurant.
Mark S A Smith: No more inspiration.
Mark DiMassimo: I don’t want-
Mark S A Smith: Back to the … I’m going to motivate action in that particular transfer. Yeah, you’re one of the leaders in the offlining movement.
Mark DiMassimo: That is true. I try. I try.
Mark S A Smith: Yet that is the concept behind disruptive technology. Our company works with organizations that bring this to market. The interesting thing about marketing disruptive technology is you can’t talk about the product because, as Henry Ford pointed out, if I asked them what they wanted, they would’ve said, “A faster horse.” The reality is that in a disruptive world, you have to inspire a new world. I really love the concept that John Carlson, the famous copywriter, says is that our job is to walk people up to the door of the future, the window of the future and show them what’s possible on the other side. That is inspiration. That requires inspiration. In the world of [crosstalk 00:38:24]-
Mark DiMassimo: Inspiration and imagination. It’s amazing that they didn’t-
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: You try to put your suitcase in the trunk of a horse and you could be killed. I haven’t tried it but I’m just saying.
Mark S A Smith: You’ll get a real kick out of it, Mark.
Mark DiMassimo: You’ll get a real kick out of it. Yet no one thought, “You know, it’d be great to have a compartment in the back here where you could put stuff.” Nope. It’s amazing how obvious things seem after somebody has invented them, right? The before-
Mark S A Smith: That’s the disruptive nature of it.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: That’s the disruptive nature. Of course, automobiles at the beginning of time looked an awful lot like carriages at the beginning. In fact, they were called carriage works for quite a while.
Mark DiMassimo: That’s right. That’s right. Horseless carriages.
Mark S A Smith: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s that transformation that people go through as we bring disruptive technology to market. You and I are involved in that process.
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely. Hey.
Mark S A Smith: [crosstalk 00:39:26]-
Mark DiMassimo: What holds customers back?
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Mark DiMassimo: What holds customers back from making decisions and how can we inspire them? I guess this is from the marketing communicator, from the interactive advertiser point of view, where do we apply the leverage and how do we apply it? What holds them back and how can we inspire them?
Mark S A Smith: All right. Great. That’s a good question to ask. It ends up that it’s easy to inspire people that are creative because inspiration is creative. We inspire creativity. Not so much if creativity isn’t a part of their DNA. Part of what we have to understand is there are going to be groups of people we can inspire, groups of people that we cannot. Motivation doesn’t go away. The need for motivation does not disappear but what happens is that we need to understand when we need to apply that external motivation and when we can apply the internal inspiration. It’s going to be where we are on a Maslow’s triangle and quite frankly, Mark, here’s an insider’s secret. You may want to edit this out of the program so that your competition doesn’t know this. When you’re selling physiological needs and you’re selling safety needs, that’s going to be a pain based sale because it’s motivating. Pain is motivating. Pain is motivating.
Mark DiMassimo: The Excedrin [inaudible 00:40:57] commercial, you know.
Mark S A Smith: That’s it.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah. The drill to the head.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: That works. It works.
Mark S A Smith: That’s it.
Mark DiMassimo: It works for years.
Mark S A Smith: It works. It works and trying to be inspiring at that level won’t work.
Mark DiMassimo: Very interesting.
Mark S A Smith: Let’s use the tool at the right level of what we’re attempting to bring into people’s world. There’s fundamental, from my experience, there’s three reasons why people aren’t inspired. One is what I’m talking about’s not relevant. They don’t care. Just do not care, not part of their life, not part of their experience. Too far away from where they are, just too far outside of their field of vision. As we talked a little bit earlier, we have to increment people up to inspiration. You don’t feed a baby steak. It doesn’t matter how much you and I love a nice, rare filet with a lovely glass of okay cab, babies are not going to like that.
Mark DiMassimo: Amen. Right.
Mark S A Smith: Too far.
Mark DiMassimo: You don’t start a fire-
Mark S A Smith:Too far.
Mark DiMassimo: You don’t start a fire by lighting a big log. It doesn’t work.
Mark S A Smith: That’s it. That’s right. From relevance standpoint, we may just be reaching too far. We need to maybe dial it back and more relevant. Seconds thing is fear. A lot of people can’t be inspired because of fear and there’s lots of sources to fear. They come from bad past experiences or somebody else has had a bad past experience, has told them the story. It can be fear of making the wrong decision, fear of being ripped off, fear of ridicule. Oh, look what you bought. Oh, what an idiot. Fear of loss, so if this doesn’t work out and I can’t get my money back, how can I recover from this? Fear of being authentic is an interesting challenge. You and I are authentic. We really don’t care what people think. It’s our business and if you don’t like us, go away.
Mark DiMassimo: [crosstalk 00:42:54].
Mark S A Smith: Authenticity is a big issue. Authenticity is a big issue. It really is a big issue. A lot of people are afraid of being authentic.
Mark DiMassimo: Sure, sure. Yeah, a lot of people, there’s a gulf between who they really are and who is required for the situation they’re dealing with, right?
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. That’s it.
Mark DiMassimo: They feel that they have to work very, very hard to show up as that other person and in some cases they may be right, right? That undermines the authenticity …
Mark S A Smith: Maybe.
Mark DiMassimo: … and it creates this stress. They may be right, they may not be right.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: They may be in the wrong situation or they may be mistaken but it certainly increases stress and people feel a lack of authenticity.
Mark S A Smith: I think you’ve got a really interesting point there and I want to drive it home. Stress is caused by inauthenticity.
Mark DiMassimo: There you go.
Mark S A Smith: If you’re feeling stress it may be-
Mark DiMassimo:[crosstalk 00:43:58] E equal MC squared of this conversation. I think we are on to something, Mark. I really do.
Mark S A Smith: Yes. You-
Mark DiMassimo: I think you’re exactly right. If you could be yourself, then you’re flowing. You’re playing. Yeah, you could get hurt. You could get angry. You could be frustrated but you’re not going to feel this existential stress.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. You do a really good job of that …
Mark DiMassimo: [crosstalk 00:44:26]-
Mark S A Smith: … with your team. You encourage your team to be authentic, to be as they are and I love it because when I’m there, your people are really fun to hang out with. They are cool. They’re just-
Mark DiMassimo: I try to make a fool of myself at least once in every meeting in order to give other people permission to just be themselves. I really do.
Mark S A Smith: That’s great. I love it. That’s great. There you go. Authenticity, fear of being authentic equals stress.
Mark DiMassimo: Wow.
Mark S A Smith: Then the third thing that usually keeps people from being inspired is priority, matter of priority. Inspiration, I want you to think about this one. This is a chewy nugget. Inspiration is always about making somebody examine their priorities.
Mark DiMassimo: Wow. Give me an example.
Mark S A Smith: An example of that is let’s go back to something that you’ve done quite a while ago, which was the concept of Tappening. The idea is stop buying bottled water. Carry your own bottle from the tap so we can reduce waste, reduce fuel, all the really good reasons that you did in the world of Tappening. With the concept of Tappening, we are challenging people’s priorities of convenience. I’ll just pop over to 7-Eleven and pick up a bottle of water versus having to prepare for the day. For them, it could be a time criteria. Money’s not an issue because they have enough money to buy a bottle of water at an egregious amount of money. There is nothing fricking more expensive per gallon than a bottle of water. Coca-Cola’s cheaper and it’s just insane.
Mark DiMassimo: Right, right.
Mark S A Smith: Just freaking insane. That inspiration, you cause them to challenge their priorities, examine their priorities, think about their priorities. There are four fundamental indicators of a person’s priorities: how to use your time, how to use your money, how do you use your energy and do you use a deadline? Is there a time bound in this to something that you’re going to do? In the world of Tappening, you’re asking for people to consider taking time to prepare, think ahead, carry water with you, money. You don’t have to spend as much money but for somebody whose money is less important than time, which a lot of people believe is true … I can’t make more time but I can make more money. Yeah, that’s true to an extent, yet we can also move the money to another priority. Then energy, what do I do with my energy? All of those elements create … Then you can create a deadline. Of course that’s what we do in the world of marketing is we generate deadlines so that people take action. Most people will not take action without a deadline.
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Mark S A Smith: [crosstalk 00:47:28]-
Mark DiMassimo: You create that deadline and you keep it in front of you. You keep your deadline for the next step in front of you. I just want for the audience, I want to say Mark was referring to Tappening. Tappening was a movement, is a movement, that our agency, DiMassimo Goldstein, and Eric Yaverbaum created together in order to promote drinking tap water instead of bottled water where possible. This was a for-profit enterprise that made a profit because while we sold hundreds of thousands of beautifully designed water bottles, we put every dollar we made back into promoting the movement. That was really the intention. What’s interesting is while we sold hundreds of thousands of water bottles, I myself could never make a habit of carrying a water bottle. I didn’t want to use my energy that way. I didn’t want to carry around a piece of metal or plastic with a bunch of heavy water in it everywhere I went. I sat down with myself and said, “You know what, there’s a tap just about everywhere I go. I’m just going to bring a cup.” For me, I solved the problem a different way but [crosstalk 00:49:01]-
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Mark DiMassimo: There is that, yes. I wanted to bring them up to speed on that because I’m aware that not everybody will know about Tappening at this point. “Good Morning, America’s” hot product of the year five years ago, so a pretty big thing in its day. Eric and I have moved on to our main focus being offlining these days, which is our movement and mission to just give equal marketing time to the off button and like Mark S A Smith said earlier in the show, we really do think meals present the greatest opportunity for building little islands of offlining time in your connected existence otherwise …
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: … [crosstalk 00:49:54] connected existence. I want to-
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Even if you eat alone, spend a little time with yourself.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah. Yes and experience taste and all of that. We are probably at about 45 minutes together here. We really should probably only go another five or so.
Mark S A Smith: Great.
Mark DiMassimo: I don’t want to miss out … Mark. If I were to ask you to come back and do another show and maybe another one again, has this been the kind of experience that perhaps made you feel inspired enough to do that?
Mark S A Smith: Mark, you’re teasing me. Absolutely. I love spending time with you, pal. I’ll spend time with you any time, any place, anywhere just because every time we have a conversation, I’m inspired. Yeah. I’d be delighted to.
Mark DiMassimo: That’s great. [crosstalk 00:50:48] and I just feel like I get so much clarity. I just know after a conversation like this I attack the rest of my day with a whole new level of confidence and energy. I would like to round back to sales because [crosstalk 00:51:08]-
Mark S A Smith: Yes and I want to [inaudible 00:51:12] what you can do about these things. Yes.
Mark DiMassimo: Yeah, yeah. What can we get? For the audience, they want to go back to their world today feeling transformed and energized. What can they do with the stuff that we’ve been talking about?
Mark S A Smith: Great. I’m going to go back to what holds customers back and how can you inspire them to do something? In my experience it’s been what holds them back is it’s not relevant so you can just be relevant, making sure that who you’re communicating with, who you’re connecting with are people that you can inspire. You can’t inspire everybody. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your self esteem. You can go out there and try to inspire people that are uninspirable. You’re not going to be relevant. It’s not going to work. Just don’t bother. It’s not worth your time. They’re not in a place that you can pull them up. Somebody else will inspire them, okay? They’re not your mission.
Mark S A Smith: The second thing that we talked about was fear. Do everything you can to reduce the fear so that they can recover even if there’s some risk. Tell success stories that show that the reward is greater than the risk. We do a lot of inspiration through telling stories. You had a guest on recently, I think [Ty 00:52:27] is doing the story doing.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes. That’s right. Ty Montague …
Mark S A Smith: Which is-
Mark DiMassimo: … more doing.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah. I love that concept. Tell success stories. Show success stories, that the reward is great than the risk as a way of helping people feel more comfortable in getting rid of fear. Take on the risk with them. Take on the risk for them. How do you do that? Guarantees, right?
Mark DiMassimo: Right.
Mark S A Smith: We do that all the time. Money back guarantees, risk reversal guarantees are some of the things that we can do to provide that security layer on Maslow’s level of hierarchy to help reduce the fear so that they can be inspired. See how that fits, Mark, into …
Mark DiMassimo: Absolutely.
Mark S A Smith: … our tool box of things that permit inspiration? If you can’t guarantee something, you’re going to have a limited number of people which you’re going to inspire because they don’t feel safe and then-
Mark DiMassimo: You know what, this is the engineer. I just have to say this. This is where the engineer inspires in you because you’re just throwing words out there into the universe here but as you’re doing it, I see how the problems that we talked about, Maslow’s hierarchy, the insights that you shared and now these tools all line up. They all line up each step of the way.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Mark DiMassimo: It becomes a system that you can use and frankly I want that natures chart that I am imagining in the air as you talk.
Mark S A Smith: It becomes a checklist.
Mark DiMassimo: [crosstalk 00:54:09] express that over the … It becomes a checklist.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah but it becomes a checklist. Yeah, right. It’s a checklist. Every airline pilot with 5,000 hours still use a checklist on every flight and we as marketers and sales people still have to use a checklist every … I still have my checklist I go through every event. I’ve been doing this a long time but the Maslow’s hierarchy gives us a checklist to make sure that we have a person who is inspirable. We do everything we can to put them into that state.
Mark S A Smith: When it comes to … I think this is an important place I want to go is when it comes to helping people with disruptive products, and disruption is all about inspiration, have them see the value of realizing their dreams, a bigger value than the value of the status quo. It’s that transition that’s the magic to getting people to take action and then priorities and we can work with a person to figure that particular part out. I want to share with you this concept of some of the mistakes that I see people making along the way.
Mark DiMassimo: Please, please.
Mark S A Smith: The number one mistake that I see that keeps a sales person from being inspirational is they focus on people’s pain. I was taught pain based selling back in the ’80s when I came out of engineering school, start doing what it is that I do. The biggest problem is that we’ve all been taught to help customers find the pain, make them feel the pain, offer a solution to the pain. That is more motivational selling versus inspirational selling. It doesn’t inspire action. Pain doesn’t inspire. People can’t be inspired out of pain. Motivated? Yes but not inspired. What we have to do-
Mark DiMassimo: You’re talking where I live right now because I have a brand that is all about inspiration. We are growing at an Inc 5,000 pace. We’ll be on it again this year and, as a result of that growth, we are bringing in more sales people, more sales trainers and what the sales trainers are pitching is this pain based sell and it doesn’t feel inspiration to me.
Mark S A Smith: Can’t do it. Big mistake.
Mark DiMassimo: What do I do about that? What’s the solution if it isn’t pain based selling?
Mark S A Smith: Instead, focus on what’s possible. Focus on outcomes versus status quo. Focus on where they want to go, not where they are. [crosstalk 00:57:06]-
Mark DiMassimo: Is that solution selling? Is that possibility solution?
Mark S A Smith: It’s even bigger than that. It’s even bigger. It’s outcome based selling. It’s outcome based selling.
Mark DiMassimo: Outcome based selling.
Mark S A Smith: The solution again … Here’s the problem with most sales people. They walk in and they start pitching a product and that’s like you going into a doctor and the doctor says, “Hi, Mark. Let me write you a prescription,” and you’re going to be going, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no doc. I haven’t even talked to you yet.” Oh yeah. Mark-
Mark DiMassimo: Right, right.
Mark S A Smith: The problem is that in sales, as in medicine, prescription for diagnosis is malpractice.
Mark DiMassimo: Yes.
Mark S A Smith: You’re going to be saying, “Wait, wait, wait. I’m here because I want to run a marathon. I want to make sure that I can do this safely. I don’t need the blue pill, doc, okay?” If you go to the outcome, outcome is Mark wants to run marathons, it’s going to be a different discussion than Mark wants to whatever.
Mark DiMassimo: All right. All right. Help me with this because I feel we’ve really gotten to the crux. This is a beautiful kind of way to close because I feel like we’ve really gotten to the crux of an issue that I am personally facing right now and I know a lot of my clients are, too. We compete in a field where lots of people promise lots of things, right? Lots of people are going out there painting rose gardens with outcomes. Clients or prospective clients tend to turn off quickly as they feel a combination of rosy promises and inauthenticity. Okay, it has to be both. It’s not one or the other. One of the arguments that the solution sellers, that the pain based sellers bring forward, one of the things they say is, “Hey, clients are in pain. Everybody’s talking about rose gardens. Let’s deal with the thorns.” I think I just made that up but that’s in effect what they’re saying. That’ll get their attention. What’s your response to that?
Mark S A Smith: Okay. Let me step back a moment and then step back into it. That is, remember, a common believe is that people are more motivated by pain than by desire and that’s true when they’re in pain, yet there gets to be a point where pain based selling stops working and that is as we ascend up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You have to ascend from pain based selling to something that is, dare I say it, more loving.
Mark S A Smith: It’s not a matter of focusing on thorns or focusing on roses. What we want to focus on is what do you want to have happen? As a client, what is it that you want to have happen? What I want to have happen is that when my sales people show up, people greet me with open arms instead of resistance. Okay. Okay. We can do that. We’ve done that over and over and over again. We can do that. What else are you looking to accomplish? What I want to be able to do is make a statement that my competition can’t. I want to say something that is so disruptive in the marketplace that the people that are fun to hang out with are going to say, “Over here, come sit with us at the fun table.”
Mark DiMassimo: Amen, buddy.
Mark S A Smith: When you look at outcome based selling, the problem is that when I do solution selling, I’m still selling a product. I’m still selling a tool. I’m still focused on the how when what I really want to do is focus on the what and why. Inspiration is about what and why.
Mark DiMassimo: Right.
Mark S A Smith: Why is I got to understand there what’s driving them. Are they inspired to do this? Are they motivated to do this? Either way doesn’t matter but I have to understand the why before I can choose the how.
Mark DiMassimo: Brother-
Mark S A Smith: That’s a conversation we can have at another time.
Mark DiMassimo: Brother, you are explicating what I have felt and I’m sure could not articulate as well. If there’s one thing I know when the prospect, client or whoever ascends from pain to the next level, if you’re still selling pain, you become a pain.
Mark S A Smith: They’ll throw you out of their office.
Mark DiMassimo: They’ll throw you out of their office or worse. I don’t want to reduce it to just that one situation because I think what you said is applicable across the entire relationship. It goes right to our core point, the point that I try to make again and again which is that your brand and your approach to marketing and selling need to be 100% aligned and mutually supportive. If you are about inspiration or if your why is about outcomes of some kind and your selling process is not true to that, then you have a brand with a lack of integrity and a brand of a lack of integrity is like a building with a lack of integrity. It’s much more likely to fall down than to rise up, right?
Mark S A Smith: Yeah and there’s a complete disconnect with authenticity. Keep this in mind, Mark, that the higher you go in your client organizations, the higher they will be in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you’re talking to a low level functionary, pain works. If you’re talking to an executive whose job is to drive and lead into the future, they fire people that create pain. They’re not about pain. They’re about inspiration. They’re about driving forward. Lower in the lower organization, pain works. Higher in the organization, pain fails miserably.
Mark DiMassimo: What do you-
Mark S A Smith: Lower in the organization, inspiration’s less effective. higher in the organization, inspiration’s demanded. I have to inspire my clients. I have to.
Mark DiMassimo: Because they’re high in their organizations?
Mark S A Smith: They’re looking for that inspiration. They’re looking for people to see-
Mark DiMassimo: They’re looking for that inspiration.
Mark S A Smith: They’re looking for people that have the same vision they have and can support that vision and can drive that vision and can give them the tools to articulate that vision as you and I have been doing here.
Mark DiMassimo: Let’s say I have an organization that’s inspiring all the way down, right? Then-
Mark S A Smith: As far down as you can inspire.
Mark DiMassimo: All right but then we’re engaged with clients who are more receptive to inspiration at the more senior levels and maybe more focused on day to day pain solving, pain avoidance at the lower levels, is there going to be a disconnect? Is it important within the organization to have people at different levels, I guess is what I’m saying, if you’re a service organization?
Mark S A Smith: I think what’s more important, Mark, is to have the understanding and the awareness that there’s time for motivation and there’s time for inspiration.
Mark DiMassimo: Got it. Got it. That is-
Mark S A Smith: There’s time to take an Excedrin and there’s time to have a glass of wine. There’s a time to get out a paintbrush and-
Mark DiMassimo: It’s to enjoy the taste, not just for the alcohol, right?
Mark S A Smith: That’s exactly right. There’s a time to get out a sledge hammer, there’s a time to get out a paintbrush. The awareness of what to do when is the magic of what we do.
Mark DiMassimo: That is a perfect place to end it because there’s a time for ending and unfortunately we’ve come to that time. Mark S A Smith, you inspire me.
Mark S A Smith: Thank you.
Mark DiMassimo: You do inspire me to transform myself in ways that have and I know will transform my satisfaction, my success, my ability to connect with and inspire others and this is just a pleasure. I know that this is going to be one of those podcasts that people will want to listen to again and again. This has been the Inspiring Action show. This is your host Mark DiMassimo. With me today was Mark S A Smith. We will be together again, Mark, very soon.
Mark S A Smith: Oh, so I passed the audition.
Mark DiMassimo: We have another program … Yes, with flying colors. With flying colors. You were not at all a pain and you were super inspiring. I think we can safely promise the audience that this is not the last time they get to see the Mark or hear the Mark in Mark’s show. Till next time, inspire action.