Harnessing the Power of Purpose-Driven Marketing: Insights from Optics in Action CEO Ryan Weiss and NaviStone's Ted Bray

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In the dynamic landscape of modern marketing, where algorithms evolve rapidly, and consumer behaviors shift unpredictably, one factor remains constant: the significance of purpose-driven marketing. In a recent podcast hosted by Ryan Weiss, CEO of Optics in Action, and featuring our very own Ted Bray, Chief Growth Officer at NaviStone, they dive into the transformative potential of purpose-driven marketing.

In the podcast episode titled, "The Power of Purpose-Driven Marketing," Ryan Weiss, and Ted Bray discuss the essence of purpose-driven strategies and their transformative influence on brands.

Let's embark on the key takeaways and insights shared by Ryan and Ted, shedding light on how purpose-driven marketing can propel businesses toward sustainable growth and lasting success.




Welcome, and thank you for listening to Optics in Action, where we showcase leaders with vision and clarity. My name is Ryan Weiss, founder and CEO of EPS. Our team is focused on enabling companies to align people and process for increased revenue, profitability, and scalable growth, while reducing the frustrations of your employees and customers.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying to be a guest on this podcast, you can find more information at podcast.epsoptics.com. Let's get to our next guest.

Welcome back everyone to another episode of Optics in Action, where we spotlight leaders with vision and clarity. And I'm super excited to have someone today, Ted Bray. He is the chief growth officer for NaviStone.

And I'm so excited to have him today because we've known each other for years. We first met when we lived in Singapore. Both of us met, we lived in the same apartment complex, down the street from the American school.

And so Ted, Optics in Action, excited to have you.

Thank you so much, Ryan. It is great to be connected here, and it's been great to be connected to you, I think now, going on almost 20 years, right? So it's been a little bit.

Pretty close, we're coming up on 20, I bet. Yeah, absolutely. So tell me a little bit about your purpose.

I always like to ask about your purpose, your why. Why do you do the things you do? What gets you excited?

Thanks, yeah. I'm always oriented around people and teams and alignment and achievement. And it's always been a part of who I am.

And I kind of go back to, I played sports growing up, played basketball, and I never thought of it as exercise. It was always, it was a chance for me to be with my friends and to compete together and have fun together. And the relationships that came out of it, I think very little of it had anything to do with, you know, winning the state championship or moving on or whatever.

It was always being a part of the team and contributing to the team. And I think in my career, it's been that way as well. I love working with amazing people who together, you know, we do amazing things.

And so I guess that would be what I'm all about. It's working with great people to accomplish things together.

Yeah, I think that's awesome. And I think it's a big part of the reason. I think you and I connected.

You were there, you had just arrived. My wife and I had just been in Singapore for, I don't know, maybe a month or two before you got there. And I think that connection and friendship started to develop.

And I think the alignment of values and the common purpose of caring about people and those things, I think really started weaving that thread over the last 15 to 20 years that we've built each other. So tell us a little bit of, tell our audience a little bit about what you do. So you do some very different things than I do, but it's all about people and it's all about these interactions.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and what NaviStone does.

Yeah, thanks. So I'm Chief Growth Officer at NaviStone. I love that title.

I've held that title a couple of times. My responsibility is to really spearhead growth for our organization. And I've done that throughout my career when you and I met in Singapore.

I was responsible to drive growth and I've always been kind of oriented around sales and driving growth. So here at NaviStone, I lead our growth team. That includes our new business development folks as well as our client services team.

Awesome. And what does NaviStone do?

So we do some really exciting things for B2C, business to consumer businesses. We are really good at understanding audiences and in particular, digital audiences. So thank people that are on websites, browsing websites, searching for products.

We help our clients understand who those people are. And through audience analytics, we can tell our clients, hey, this group of prospects is most likely to make a purchase with you if you'll interact with them. And so we help identify who those people are and we help facilitate that interaction.

That's awesome. And you mentioned a little bit earlier, you guys also do what some people consider all about old school, a lot of mailings and things like that as well. Tell us a little bit about that.

Yeah, we were catching up before you started the recording.

I don't wanna call it old school, but some people, mail, it's all about digital, but mail still has a place in this world, doesn't it?

Well, it does. And all mail is, whether it's email or physical mail, it's a way of interacting. It's human to human interaction.

And so one of the tactics that we use after we identify these audiences is we will send a personalized postcard to you within a couple of days of you visiting a website. And this really has a phenomenal impact on purchase rates. So I was sitting down for lunch about two weeks ago with good friends of ours, Tom and Helen.

Tom is a computer analytical kind of guy, and he is very careful about how he makes purchase decisions. And he was so excited. He told me all about this Alaska cruise that he and his wife had just signed up for.

I'm like, oh my gosh, Tom, I know you. And I know that that's a big deal for you. And he's like, oh, it was a huge deal.

I'm like, Tom, tell me what caused you to do that? He said, you wouldn't believe it, Ted. I was on this cruise company's website.

I'd been on there for a couple of days. I was really digging in on the Alaska options. And on Tuesday, I get a postcard in the mail.

And I laughed because I hadn't told them that I had changed jobs and had gone to NaviStone. I'm like, Tom, that's actually our company. We work with that brand.

And it was so much fun to see how that postcard and that relevancy resonated with Tom and helped Tom make that purchase.

Yeah. I think there is something about, in the digitalization and the, we're overwhelmed with information, getting a postcard in the mail, getting a piece of mail is still, it's actually sort of become unique because we don't get as much mail as we used to maybe 20 years ago or something like that. And I think the stuff that you're describing of sort of understanding audiences and understanding the human experience and drawing people in is really important.

It may be more important today than it was 20 years ago.

Yeah, I think the importance of just understanding who you're speaking to and having a relevant discussion with them will always be important. You know, I'm new to mailing postcards. That isn't my background.

I'm a digital guy. I've worked in digital agencies quite a bit in my past, but the more I understood what NaviStone did and I dug into it, there's some really interesting data out there. It talks about, even for millennials, you'd think that maybe postcards are for the older generation, but there's data that is really recent from a study that USPS did.

Not surprising that they would do this kind of study, but they surveyed millennials, and 75% of millennials say that receiving personalized physical direct mail makes them feel special. Over 90% of Americans say they have a very positive or positive reaction when they get personalized mail in their mailbox. And so I think you're right.

I think people authentically appreciate relevant interaction. And maybe the other point too, that kind of coincides with that, every day, all of us are presented with over, on average, a thousand digital ads. And every day we get at least 100 emails in our inbox.

And so you kind of take all that together, and all of a sudden, that physical mail channel becomes more of an open opportunity to connect with people.

So how do you make the link? How did folks today make that connection, make that link between digital and the mail piece? How do you make that connection in terms of processing and analytics and things like that?

And you don't have to go to the details of, the technical details or the top secret stuff, but what does that look like conceptually for marketing a branding agency or an agency that helps organizations with that?

Yeah, great question. And it really is a pretty straightforward process. We work with our clients and we actually put a little piece of code on each one of their web pages.

It's called the tag. And as people browse those web pages, we get information. It's anonymous information about who's browsing that site and what their behavior is, maybe what they're searching for, how long they spend on a page, do they get close to making a purchase and then abandon?

And so we track that behavior, that consumer behavior, again, in an anonymous way. And we're able to do analytics against all of that audience information.

And out of the analytics models that we've built, we can tell you who has the highest propensity to make a purchase if you would interact with that audience.

We can then take that anonymous audience. And we have several data partners that we work with. We'll hand those audiences over and they'll do a conversion of those audiences that are anonymous actually into known individuals with postally correct mailing addresses.

We never see that information. And actually our client never sees that information. But now our data partner has those names and addresses of folks that if interaction should happen, there could be a conversion.

That information gets passed over to our printing partners and our printers then will on the fly produce and assemble these personalized postcards and then they get sent out. So my friend Tom got one of those postcards. He went back onto the website after receiving the postcard and he made a purchase.

So again, when he went back to the website, we knew that anonymous ID, we still don't know what's Tom for us, but we can match that back to Tom before he made the purchase. And so we closed the loop for our customers, our clients around who browsed, who got a postcard and then who converted.

That's incredible. So as you think about this, and we started the podcast, talking a little bit about purpose. Why do you do what you do?

And in my focus, the focus of Optics is really about the alignment of people and process to fulfill a purpose, right? To grow towards something. As you think about NaviStone and the clients you're working with and the growth that you're looking to achieve, what would you say is that focus of where you're going and why you're going there that will enable you to align people and process to get there?

It's such a great question. And there are so many facets to how you might answer that. I think for our customers that sign on with NaviStone, we work day in and day out with the CMOs and their marketing team.

And so first and foremost, we want these people to have success. And if you spent any time at all in sales or marketing, and I know you have, there is so much pressure to grow. There's so much pressure to hit numbers.

There's so much pressure to hit retention. I mean, it's full of pressure. And can we help against that mandate?

And the answer is absolutely. And so that really drives us with alignment to our clients, because our purpose is to help these people achieve success in their jobs. When we look at our own employees, we really want them to understand the broader why is this happening?

Why are these processes in place? So many times throughout my career, and I know your business is built on this, so many times we've seen process, process re-improvement projects, et cetera, with really a vague or non-existent tie-in to why is it happening? And so we work really hard here, and we're a small company.

We have around 55 employees, and we're growing. We'll double the size of our company over the next 20 to 24 months. But we work really hard to make sure everyone understands the broader why.

What are we doing? What problem do we solve? And then why are you here?

What role do you play? What's your secret power that makes you special? And I think being able to bring all that together and make it a purpose-driven process is the key to growth and really the key to folks being happy.

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. I think that when we understand the impact, when we understand why we're being asked to do certain things or why certain things are important, we're far more likely to execute on it and execute well and have some meaning to it that propels us. And that is the core of why I've built my company on this alignment of people and process and purpose.

Those three things that enable our customers, our clients, even our suppliers and vendors, when we have common values and common purpose and common understanding of why certain things need to happen, everyone can work together better and drive in the same direction. I think that's incredibly powerful.

It is so powerful. And I think the thing I'm still learning, and I'm getting old now, right? I'm at the back half of my career, not the first half.

The power of people. When you went from being a basketball player to a basketball coach. And one of the things I found as a basketball coach of young people, if you can give them guardrails and frameworks versus set plays, it allows them to discover their own secret power, their own secret sauce.

It allows them to apply creativity to a situation. And I think sports is a great analogy. You think about an eighth grader playing basketball, they get trapped in the corner.

And if in their mind, they're supposed to run a set play, but that set play is supposed to start at the top of the key, they're in a lot of trouble in that moment. But if you give them frameworks and tools instead, maybe they can pivot out of that and not get as stressed. We've all seen it, right?

When that young person is trying to do the best that they can do, and the tools you've given them don't allow them to do that, that's tough. And I think that analogy for me has really taken off in my business life, where if we can give people purpose, guardrails and frameworks to work in, they can solve amazing challenges, and they'll gladly do it because of the freedom and the support that they get. So I'm still learning that.

I'm not perfect at it, but I am amazed at just the humans that I've worked with and the things that they can do together.

I think that's a really great perspective. And this is part of the thing that I get really passionate and excited about, as you know, in some of our other discussions, that a lot of times when people think about process and they think about process documentation, and so they think about what are the steps that need to happen to do something. And the Optics system that I created is all about creating a framework for understanding the value stream first.

What are the handoffs that need to happen between departments, things like that, the quality, value and speed, the accountable, responsible. It's a framework to first enable you to assess a value stream, assess a process between departments and the handoffs and things like that. And then drive into what are the processes that enable your people to be successful in that framework.

You've got to start with a framework. And I think so many organizations start with like, we're going to create a book of SOPs, but they're not linking together the departments. They're not giving you.

I love that analogy you just gave of basketball, even though I think you're more of a K-State fan and I'm more of a KU fan. So we'll put that aside for a moment.

But given that framework as a starting point enables your employees to work within the framework and do what needs to be done to create value, and that's the thing that's needed. And I think it's missing from a lot of organizations today.

It's well said. I worked at a large consultancy for several years recently, and I did a big project with a global coffee company, global coffee brand. And they were really struggling from a cost point of view, a marketing cost point of view in particular.

And we identified where they could take 30% of their current marketing operations costs and basically cut those out of the business. But it really required them to first think about purpose, like, why do you exist? Because if they started “kind of down in the process piece, well, they would never want to relinquish any of the elements they were doing today.

But when we got into the purpose and we looked at the work to be done to accomplish the purpose, we were actually able to almost imagine a pyramid. And at the bottom of that pyramid was a whole set of tasks that became repeatable and transferable, very important tasks, but tasks that actually didn't contribute to the differentiated value of the organization. And once we could get through that, again, through a purpose driven lens, we could carve out those costs and move those into a different model, maybe a nearshore, offshore model, that reinvest at the core of that pyramid, which was the work that really mattered, the work that could only be done there internally.

And at the very top of that pyramid, really starting to double down on strategy. And so again, understanding the purpose, I think, is the starting block for any reinvention, for any process redesign that you want to do. And again, you've really been a pioneer at the forefront of kind of driving that purpose lens, and it's resonated with me quite a bit.

Well, I appreciate the wisdom that you shared today, Ted. If folks in our audience, as people listen to the podcast or see some of the videos of this, they're interested in learning more, if they're wanting to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to contact you or learn more about NaviStone, meet Ted Bray? What's the right way for them to contact you?

Well, easiest place, of course, would be to go to navistone.com, navistone.com. You know, hit the web page. We tell you straight away who we are, what we do, and there's a contact us form right there.

I'm happy too to take one-on-one calls, personal calls, doesn't really matter, but that's probably the easiest way to connect. Or go to LinkedIn and just search for Ted Bray. You'll find me and I'm happy to connect with you there as well.

And if you had some wisdom to share with our audience, is there any piece of wisdom around marketing, digitalization, working with people? What would be the wisdom that you would share with our audience?

I would say focus on the people, whether it's starting with your own team or as you progress, as you look at the clients you're working with, make sure you focus on those people. And then the customers you're trying to attract and retain. Data can give you so much insight into who these people are and what they're looking for.

So invest in that. Invest in that understanding. Work with partners that share your values around the importance of people, the importance of honesty and authenticity.

Digitization really eliminates animinity, right? Think about Yelp. And if you have a good restaurant, you're going to get crowdsourced with a thumbs up.

And if you have a bad experience and it's not a good place, it doesn't matter how great your marketing is, people are going to know. So, you know, leverage your people, invest in your people, invest in the data, and lean in on creating authentic customer experience.

I love it. Well, thank you again, Ted, for being on this episode of Optics in Action. I love the wisdom you shared.

I love what you shared about people and how important people are. It's something that, you know, my degrees were in chemistry and finance. I've shared that before that I was a technical person.

I was like process and technical and all that stuff. But early in my career, I started realizing that impact of people. And so I appreciate that wisdom that you just shared, that that's what makes the world go round.

Process and technical stuff is important to the extent that it enables people to perform and ultimately fulfill that purpose. So thanks again, Ted, that you've shared some great insights with our audience today. I appreciate your time.

Thanks, Ryan. Have a great day.

Thank you for listening to the Optics in Action podcast. If you are interested in the podcast, we welcome you to subscribe on your preferred platform, follow us on LinkedIn, or learn more at epsoptics.com. If you or someone you know is interested in applying to be a guest on this podcast, you can find more information at podcast.epsoptics.com.

This is Ryan Weiss, thanking you for listening to Optics in Action.

From Optics in Action: 33 - The Power of Purpose-Driven Marketing and Business Processes with NaviStone's Ted Bray, Apr 22, 2024


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