I was with some very dear friends recently, spending the day riding bikes on the lake front in Chicago. Paul has been a huge supporter of my marketing (inspiring me to continue to reach for my dream) and asked about my blogs. “What have you blogged about lately?” I told him, nothing. I need to be inspired to write, and I’ve had writers block. He was on a mission to inspire me. Paul, once again, you have succeeded!

I was thinking about inspiration and how it relates to marketing.

Isn’t my job as a marketing professional to ‘inspire’ someone to take an action that will result in them buying my  product? 


Inspiration is a funny thing. The definition of inspiration is ‘stimulation of the mind or emotion to a high level of feeling or activity’. The thing we do as marketers is figure out what we can say that will ‘stimulate to a level of activity’. That is our challenge. When our prospect or customer has been inspired to take an action, that is the evidence that the marketing you are doing is working.

Two questions are now ‘inspiring’ me to continue: 1) How do we inspire and 2) How do we know we have inspired?

I inspire or am inspired when someone says something that means something to me or that I care about. If they can touch on something that I am passionate about, they will inspire some activity on my part. As a marketer, I want (and need) to understand the issues the customers are feeling relative to the product or solution I have to offer. This often means I need to understand the market forces for the industry I work in and the technology behind the product offering – how does this fit with what my customer is trying to do? If I can make it run faster, be more efficient, or maybe just easier and problem free, that’s a good story. There must be some benefit; if it doesn’t make their life better, than what is the point? In marketing terms, that is having a strong value proposition with proof points.

How do we know we have inspired? Simple, revenue growth. But, it often does not work to look at revenue growth as the only measure of inspiration. There are too many factors; time to close a sale, inability to tie a sale back to a specific marketing activity, value of the product and solution. In marketing terms, this is metrics. What metrics show inspiration? There is not one specific metric but if the company is growing in breadth and influence (revenue and awareness), then I’d say you are doing a good job of inspiring.

Messaging, value proposition, proof points, communicating – it’s what we do whether we are marketing a product, a company, or making a pitch for my favorite restaurant for dinner. Inspiring.

Inspired by Paul Zumbrook. Written while on the Blue Line to O’Hare airport. Thanks Paul!


About the author: Kim McMahon has performed sales and marketing for more years than she cares to count. She writes frequently on marketing, life, the world and how they sometimes all come together.