The FogPusher Story
This is a little long – just a fair warning. If you want the full story, here it is.
My name is Mitch Smith, founder & Chief Innovation Officer for this amazing project.
If I were to summarize the events that definitively lead up to the creation of FogPusher, I would have to say it was the direct result of a pay-it-forward experiment which changed several lives, including mine.
Here is how it happened.
Prior to this situation, I had invested the majority of my adult life in real estate, custom home building, mortgage loan origination – primarily in a sales and marketing management/project management capacity. I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’ve always become bored quickly.
(FogPusher has now been my full-time occupation for about 3 years, making it the longest-held position I’ve ever had, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I love what I do.)
In 2013, a nearly fatal automobile accident changed my life trajectory in a very distinct way.
After the accident, my doctor recommended that I take a year and a half off of work to recoup. He also told me that I had to leave the mortgage business and that it was time to find something less stressful to do with my time when the 18 months were over.
To this day, it’s beyond me how people manage to take 18 months off of work. I made it about 2 months (barely), then I enrolled in school full time, majoring in computer science, with a web design & development emphasis.
After about 6 months of not working, an old friend called me to offer a sales position working with a startup eCig wholesale company. I’ve always had a natural tendency to find ways to optimize systems, and it was due to this, that I naturally took it upon myself to make corrections to the entire business model which I had embarked upon.
I didn’t have to try very hard to develop a client base, but the more clients I accumulated, the more people that were pissed. My clients were receiving the wrong orders. Orders were shipping sometimes as much as 2 weeks late. Expedited orders were sometimes lost in the warehouse, sent to the wrong customers, etc… It was a mess.
The priority quickly became to fix all of that – otherwise, the business was destined to fail. Simple bottleneck theory.
As a result of stepping outside of the call of my duties to make necessary corrections, the problems began to slow down – they went away, actually. The company was growing.
My friend who offered me the job became very upset and actually left the company.
I learned a lot about human psychology in this particular situation. My friend learned to not hire me unless he wanted a company to be a success. Sometimes toes are natural born casualties on the road to success, come to find out.
When he left, I was put in charge of the entire sales department, and all marketing efforts. Their website was actually the first large-scale web design project I had the opportunity to manage.
Over the next year and a half, the company grew to become one of the larger stateside eCig wholesalers, with monthly sales volume approaching $1MM (this was relatively large for the industry, at that time). I was training all sales staff, running all digital marketing efforts, and eventually implemented an integrated inventory management system which streamlined a lot of the internal workflow problems we kept running into as the company grew.
We began creating and launching our own products, and it was my responsibility to see that these products made their way onto the shelves of large chain retail establishments.
I began studying Google My Business search optimization and came up with a system for ranking businesses at the top of local search results. The only problem was that I had never actually used it – I just had a working hypothesis, of sorts. I was on a mission to change that, and it didn’t take me long.
Even though I was in school full time and managing sales and marketing for VP Wholesales, I was looking for a company guinea pig to test my hypothesis on.
Once I made up my mind to give away this service to a person who needed it, I found my first willing victim, and it took a total of about 3 hours. And interestingly, they found me, actually.
He owned a vape shop in Florida and I could tell by the tone of his voice that the grand opening of his shop was turning out to be a flop.
It was his lucky day. It was mine also, but I had my work cut out for me. To accommodate the work and school schedule, I found myself pulling all-nighters to get his work done. I was going to school, working, working more, and doing what needed to be done to make this happen. on his project throughout the wee hours of the morning.
Long story short, within about 1 month his business was completely transformed. He found himself busier than he could have ever imagined.
To say I was excited would have been a major understatement. His life had completely transformed right before my eyes, and his entire demeanor did the same.
I had discovered my calling. I was alive to help people do what they love doing by doing what I love doing.
In April 2015, the owner of the wholesale company found himself in a pickle as we were raided by literally every branch of the federal, state, and city government. The CIA, DEA, FBI, Department of Homeland security, everybody was there. The owner was being investigated for money laundering and synthetic marijuana sales – which I don’t believe he was involved in, but that was the end of that life chapter.
Since I was managing the email marketing for the company, I was blessed to have the entire email list for the company, and I was on a first name familiarity basis with most of the business owners on it.
I quickly realized that my decision to give away my services to a willing guinea pig was one of the best business decisions I had ever made, as he was more than happy to talk to any other vape shop owners who had inquired about my services.
He was closing every deal I got in my pipeline, for me, and everything was good.
After about 2 years, I realized that I had been completely ignoring my previous life/experience in real estate and mortgage loan origination. It was perfect, actually, because I was able to develop a deeper understanding of the digital marketing world, from an entirely different perspective.
In early 2017, I circled back around to the mortgage and real estate business, and the rest is history.
Ever since then, I have learned so much about people, and the context/timing of human communication.
I’ve taken on business partnerships with people whose self-interests are greater than client interests. And that is of zero interest to me. None-the-less, I continue to learn.
I’ve learned that the easier route is usually not the most effective. In many cases, it’s not, anyway.
Particularly when it comes to generating high-quality mortgage/real estate/insurance leads.
I’ve learned that many people in my position are willing to offer sub-par services because the numbers look ok on paper, because the sub-par services are easier to deliver, completely disregarding the interests of clients. Others are willing to offer illegal advertising schemes to obtain sub-par business because the numbers turn out ok.
I’ve learned that so many people operate their entire lives around this idea of ‘personal gain’, and today I know that it will never work. It’s not how life works. It might in the short term, but even if it worked out great forever, it’s not something I am able to come to terms with. My mission is of a different nature.
I’ve learned that by providing real value to those I come in contact with, that everything works out great. I’ve learned that I have a lot of value to give.
I’ve learned that, in the process of this entire story, I discovered the only way to consistently generate high-quality mortgage leads in 2018 and beyond. I’ve learned about how the old method of building a mortgage business is literally falling apart at the seams. The manner in which comfort can be established with prospective clients has shifted – right along with the manner in which humans access information. Sales strategy has even changed – people avoid uncomfortable conversations like the plague. They tend to resort to their mobile devices to withdrawl.
I also discovered that I had tested and proven that I had the answer to the entire situation. I think you can safely call this a game-changing moment in my career.
It’s all about the narrowing of the human attention span, combined with the way in which humans collect information today, combined with fears of personal data leaks, relevancy in communication, and the nature of the manner in which communication is being handled.
Questions? Get in touch.