482: What No Bullshit Really Means and Why It Matters to You
There can be confusion around the definition of No Bullshit, and Dave Mastovich is here to clear it up by explaining what it really means. In episode 482, Dave Mastovich talks about how to use the five core values of the No Bullshit Marketing team to further your marketing leadership.
It’s the No Bullshit Marketing Show. I’m Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultants. Speaking of No Bullshit Marketing, I know that most people have their own definition of what they think No Bullshit Marketing means. How do I know this? Because over time, I began to ask people what they thought, because they weren’t asking me. Now I’m happy when somebody says, ‘tell me a little bit about what no bullshit marketing means, and what no bullshit means to you.’ That’s when it’s great, because I have the chance to talk about it. That doesn’t happen as often as me realizing that there’s a different perception. A lot of people think that no bullshit means bluntness, and telling someone that they’re out of line, or whatever. And that may happen from time to time. Certainly, I’m direct. But I’m going to talk to you today about what No Bullshit Marketing really means and why that matters to you. And the way I’m going to go about it is I’m going to talk about the core values that I hope that I’ve instilled here at MASSolutions as a company because I formed this company, started this company, for reasons that are tied to these core values.
I’ve talked time and again on this podcast about how I was on the other side, as a client, as a top marketing leader at various companies doing turnarounds. And I was responsible for sales, marketing, biz dev, PR, internal communications, promotions, branding, all of that stuff at companies that were in the billions and at companies that were smaller. So throughout my career, I had done these turnarounds. And what I always wanted to do was work at a company where you did things in a way that were to try and achieve the best results with the people being themselves and maximizing their talents, and hopefully having some fun along the way. And none of that sounds out of the ordinary because a lot of people claim they do that or want to do that. But I found the other thing that happened when I was on the corporate side doing these turnarounds, that there were a lot of things that were just done because they used to be done that way. There were a lot of things that were said, but not followed up on, there were a lot of people getting promotions not based on their productivity, not based on their results, not based on their talent.
So when I started MASSolutions, I had a couple of goals. The first was that I wanted any company, regardless of size or industry, to be able to do real marketing. Why do I say real marketing, is that my definition? Not really. My definition of real marketing is tied to the definition of marketing. And marketing is taught by the father of marketing, Philip Kotler. A lot of people work in marketing and don’t even understand the full facets of marketing, how there is an insights aspect, competitive intel, market intel, market research, how there is target market drill down based on science, how science is important to driving the creative art, and that there has to be a respect for marketing and marketers should demand and command respect when they get a seat at the table amongst the major disciplines of a company in business, finance, HR, operations, etc. So that was one part of the reason that MASSolutions was started. The other part was the no BS aspect where I felt that I wanted to have a company where people had their lives and work came around their lives, but work was something they were passionate about, that was not something they just punched in and punched out. It was not something that they got excited about when they thought they could get a day away from work at a golf outing or something like that. No, it was something they were passionate about, something where they were heard, a place where they had their say, a place where their strengths were maximized and their weaknesses were minimized. Again, sounds like common sense. But common sense isn’t all that common.
So what does No Bullshit Marketing mean to me? And why does that matter to you? Well, when you heard the reasons I started MASSolutions, and I’ve tried to live these core values, not tried, I have lived these core values. But the key is I’ve worked to have them built and driven and lived by others on the team. And I think that the team members do that for the most part. We can all do better. But we do this for the most part, we do live these core values that I’m about to talk to you about.
The first is it’s talking about open communication. And I like to say the truth about open communication. And the truth about open communication is confronting the brutal facts, confronting the brutal facts. That’s from a book Good to Great, one of the seminal business books of all time, and Good to Great talked about confronting the brutal facts. I found, throughout my career, that that wasn’t the case. The brutal facts were often ignored or were hoped that they would go away. So by confronting the brutal facts is having self-awareness of what you’re bringing to the table, both good and not so good, by being open and honest about your competitive advantages and competitive disadvantages as a company. So that’s confronting the brutal facts, gathering the insights, talking about it openly, and confronting what isn’t, what it should be, and working your best way to get there. Open communication, the truth about open communication is also that directness that I talked about. But no bullshit doesn’t mean that you just tell someone they’re full of shit or they’re wrong, or you get in somebody’s face. No, it’s direct, but caring. Direct but caring. Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t had a shitty tone, or that I haven’t had a look on my face that was because I couldn’t hold back that nonverbal. So I’m not claiming everybody on my team has the perfect delivery, because they don’t. But what we strive to do is be direct, yet caring. Direct, yet caring. Direct, yet respectful. That’s part of the truth about open communication. Transparency and empathy. So the first core value is around open communication, or just the word communicate, and it’s about those things, confronting the brutal facts being direct, but caring, direct, but respectful, being open and transparent and having empathy towards others.
The second core value is scaling with systems and science, scaling with systems and science. The science aspect is really critical. Marketing often goes one of two ways. Prior to the internet, it went way too far on the art side. If you’ve seen the show Mad Men, it talks about the art of advertising. So prior to the internet, it went way too far on the art side. So there was this, you weren’t sure it worked, but you knew it kind of worked. Then after the internet, there are some that have gone too far trying to measure exactly what the impact is of marketing. And really what it is, is somewhere in between there. It’s probably almost a 50-50 split that’s desirable, in that the behavioral science should drive the creative art. There should be marketing insights about your company, competitive intel done to see what the competitors are doing. You should be talking to your employees, you should be talking to referral sources and centers of influence. And you should be talking to customers to listen to them, to hear what they are thinking and that behavioral science that you find out should drive that creative art. That’s because science scales, personality doesn’t. So when you’re in sales biz dev or when you’re in marketing, PR, storytelling, science scales, personality does not. So you want to have a talented creative person, but the science behind it is what scales, otherwise that person is not scalable and ends up when they leave there’s a missing piece. But this part about system and science also ties back to the No Bullshit Go To Market System, which was based upon the teachings of Philip Kotler, the father of marketing, and the sciences and the systems behind marketing, but then tweaked when I got punched in the face time and again doing turnarounds and realizing that the real world has to have adjustments and you have to read and react, and over time, things change. Now the core principles of marketing do not change. The tactical implementation does. So you had radio, TV, and newsprint until a certain era, then the 90s cable and direct response got stronger. And then the 2000s websites and online marketing, and then pay-per-click and then now different social media, YouTube, then Instagram, then TikTok. The tactical activation changes but not the science behind how the human mind works and consumer behavior and how the science has to be done, that No Bullshit Go To Market System, which has intellectual property around how to do segmentation so you better understand who you’re trying to reach, connect, and engage with. It also has principles of marketing insights, market research, and how you can gain the insights that I just mentioned. It also has strategic marketing KPIs, not just tactical marketing metrics. It leverages the science of storytelling. There’s all this creative, emotional aspect of storytelling, but it follows a science.
Third core value is around deep thinking. Third core value is around the power of deep thinking. This is probably the biggest core value around me, both good and not so good. So deep thinking is about emotional intelligence. It’s about self-awareness, vulnerability, resiliency, it’s about thinking and studying and analyzing. Now, why did I say something that’s both good and not so good? Because we as humans tend to overthink. And that’s something I have to work on every day to make sure I don’t overthink. But what I want to do is I want to be clear about what deep thinking is. First of all, self-awareness. Self-awareness is having an understanding of the impact that you have on a room, the impact you have on a Zoom, the impact you have on others. This is a core value that I work to coach and mentor team members, and then when I’m working with clients on a mentoring basis, because self-awareness is hugely important to your success. And if you have a sheer strength of will and talent, you can sometimes overcome weaknesses in self-awareness for a while. But the true peak performers are incredibly self-aware. That leads to the emotional intelligence aspect of being able to understand how they are being received and how they are being impacted, and that you need to adjust and read that room, and you need to think of your words, because words matter, and your tone and your nonverbals. But deep thinking also means vulnerability. And I was in a meeting the other day with a number of CEOs, and somebody was talking about vulnerability, ‘I don’t believe in that vulnerability when you go in there, and you’re getting all emotional and sad and basically lovey dovey stuff.’ And I said, ‘No, vulnerability is not constantly saying you’re wrong, it’s not necessarily coming to emotional tears. Vulnerability is being open about, hey, I’m struggling on this, I could use your help, because I see your expertise in A and B. I need some help on that.’ Or, ‘This is something I’m working on myself, I want to get better at X and Y. Any insights you have about that?’ Vulnerability is taking responsibility as if you’re the CEO of the company. Ultimately, you have to take responsibility. Now, you can put on and say, ‘Look, I’m taking responsibility for this but this department and division has to change. And you’re the leader of that, so change this.’ But that’s being vulnerable. Vulnerability is not some bad thing that’s just like you’re going to break down and cry and come in every day and be sad and say, I’m sorry, and all that stuff like that. No vulnerability is completely different. Vulnerability is being open, transparent, and trusting others. Trust begets trust. Others aren’t going to trust you until you fully trust them. And yes, you’ll get burnt sometimes. You’ll get burned sometimes with trust begets trust. And when you get burnt, you get pissed. Because that’s what I do, I complain about it after I live by trust begets trust my whole life. I had mentors early in my life that one, use that exact phrase, trust beget trust. And over the course of my life I’ve been burnt dozens of times by dozens of people that I trusted. And those ones I fixate on, I get ticked off. But then I forget that for every one of those, there’s five to 10 people that I trusted, and got more trust from them. So I have to have the self-awareness to realize that I fixate on those negatives, maybe a little too much. Because trust begets trust, there’s five to 10 times as many people that you trusted, and then they began to earn that trust and trust you. That’s all part of deep thinking, the third core value about what No Bullshit Marketing really means and why it’s important to you.
Growth is another key word, key core value. And growth is not just about the top line or the bottom line. So top line growth and bottom line growth are important. That does make MASSolutions different in that we’re focused on both of those, where many firms that are doing brand storytelling and things of that nature often aren’t focused very much on top or bottom. And then some people that are focused on lead gen are very much focused on top line. So we focus on both top line and bottom line growth. But growth to us also means personal and professional growth for each team member at MASSolutions, and we hope for the people we’re working with. We hope that we can help our colleagues at the client with personal and professional growth as well. We hope that our expertise, our empathy, our communications, our experience, and our respect can help them grow personally and professionally to achieve their personal and professional goals. So growth is personal growth, professional growth, top line growth, bottom line growth. Why is that important to you? If you’re someone that wants to do No Bullshit Marketing, that should be important to you. We’re going to help you personally and professionally grow and help your company’s top line grow and your company’s bottom line grow.
And the fifth one is change. We want to drive change. When I did turnarounds throughout my career, and even now, still really involved in turnarounds or massive growth situations for our clients, I would hear phrases like, ‘That’s how we’ve always done it. That’s how we’ve always done it.’ And I would say why? They would say, ‘Because that’s how we’ve always done it.’ And I would say, ‘Okay, well, we’re going to do this.’ And immediately people will be shooting at me from the grassy knoll and coming at me with different ways to try to stop me because people jump to self-preservation. When you’re a change agent, people jump to self-preservation. And many times it’s not personal. It’s just self-preservation. Sometimes it is. Sometimes there have been people that personally did not like me or my company. But many times it’s just self-preservation. Someone who was a complete selfish jerk sees me years later and goes, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ because they’re out of that situation. They did their self-preservation and went on to something else. And that’s really difficult, because you’ve got to kind of go, ‘Okay, I guess, forgive,’ maybe, I don’t know. But when you’re driving change, it’s not about, ‘That’s how we’ve always done it.’ It’s not about the status quo. It’s not about the safe way. It’s about believing in the opportunities from change, the opportunities that come about because of change, and then helping to drive that change. Every client we work with, we’re helping to drive change for them to achieve personal growth, to achieve professional growth, achieve top line growth, and bottom line growth. So those two core values at the end there, the last two, driving change and growth, you can see ties together and help you as someone who wants to be a No BSer. The deep thinking helps you with self-awareness, vulnerability, and resiliency. The systems and science help you to not just be winging it, they help you to be able to track things, but they help you to also still bring the creative art into it and the emotional aspect to it so you don’t become just top line oriented. And then open communication, confronting the brutal facts and being direct but caring and direct but respectful. That’s what No Bullshit Marketing means at the world’s only No Bullshit Marketing consultancy. And why does it matter to you? It matters to you because we can help you achieve your goals personally and professionally, and from a top and bottom line standpoint, with systems and the behavioral science driving the creative art. We can help you to do real marketing, to tell your story to each of your key target audiences of current and prospective customers, current and prospective employees, centers of influences and referral sources, and of course, brand storytelling.
I hope you enjoyed this episode about the cultural values and what No Bullshit Marketing means to me and MASSolutions and why that matters to you. Thanks for listening to another episode of the No Bullshit Marketing Show recorded here in MASSolutions studio in bold, beautiful, downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Remember, ask yourself, what’s the big idea? And build your story around the answer. It’s all about bold solutions. No BS.