Brands with purpose build better relationships with their customers – Interview with Jeremy Waite


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Today’s interview is with Jeremy Waite, Head of Digital Strategy, EMEA @Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He joins me today to talk about his new book: From Survival to Significance.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Copying your way to increased innovation, creativity and competitive advantage – Interview with Mark Earls – and is number 142 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

From Survival To SignificanceHere’s the highlights of my interview with Jeremy:

  • The book ties together a lot of the strands and stories that Jeremy has seen from both successful and unsuccessful brands over his years of experience and history and the journey that they go on.
  • What you stand for is more important than what you sell.
  • The basic premise of the book is that it’s not enough to just make a profit anymore.
  • Profits with purpose.
  • Customers are not as interested in brands as brands think they are.
  • Companies and brands are now on a journey from survival to success to significance, where in the survival stage brands are fighting on price and for market share and there is no loyalty and people follow you because they have to as they have no choice (typical utilities, telcos etc etc).
  • Jeremy believes there is an emerging space for brands that become significant. Significant to their customers, their marketplace, their community, the world and cites what Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter is doing with Obvious Ventures who state that they are “…we’re product designers and company builders first, and we are on a mission to help fuel startups that combine profit and purpose”.
  • So, Jeremy’s book explores that idea and aims to ask the questions that will allow entrepreneurs to navigate themselves and their firms to this space and inspire them and others to do the same.
  • Simon Sinek “the goal in business is not to sell to people who need what you have, it is to do business with people who believe what you believe”.
  • The book does not concentrate on the external ‘marketing’/CSR type initiatives but more on why some of the world’s greatest brands were founded, how that shaped them and why they took some of the business decisions that they did.
  • Jeff Hammerbacher, one of Facebook’s first data scientists who also left before their IPO, said: “It sucks that some of the greatest minds of our generation are just trying to get people to click more ads’.
  • The goal of our generation is not to advance knowledge but is to be in the know. Discuss.
  • You have to have a relationship before you can have trust.
  • Jeremy cites an example of old and established brand, Philips, that lost it’s way and is now re-discovering its purpose and direction. Philips now have a vision that states that by 2025 they want to have improved the lives of 3 billion people through their healthcare products and technology.
  • The book contains a number of examples that will open up the debate about whether some of these companies really believe their purpose, what that entails, how they deliver on it and what their customers believe.
  • Significance, therefore, is not significance to everyone but significance to some.
  • One of the challenges inherent within that, particularly for big brands, is how do they personalise (or customise) the experience and relationship they have with each customer.
  • Jeremy cites LiveNation, who are doing some interesting things in developing and customising the relationships that they are building with their customers. In fact, they are tracking up 4,000 different attributes of their customers in order to do that. This raises all sorts of data and privacy issues but Jeremy believes that there is such a strong value exchange with their customers that their customers are OK with that.
  • Avinash Kaushik says that ‘brands will be defined what they do with the information that they have about their customers’.
  • Therefore, a brand that is only fighting for ‘survival’ will be all about how much can we sell, how can we lower costs etc etc whereas a brand like O2, say, will be asking what else can we do to help our customers and enhance our relationship with them.
  • But, then what……?
  • Of all the money that is given in the world to social enterprises and charities only 5% of it comes from corporations and other businesses. Of that, it is claimed, that 80% is given away for tax reasons.
  • We need to have more conversations about how companies can do more and how they can help and stand for something more. And, in doing so, how that can help them be more successful.
  • Jeremy’s favourite statistic comes from Master of the Universe, a German documentary with English subtitles, and says that 20 years ago in 1995 the average amount of time that people held shares in a company was 4 years. In 2015, it is 22 seconds.
  • The implication of that is that we are losing interest in companies.
  • 100% of the profits of the book are going to – a non-profit organisation committed to teaching the next generation of kids how to code. So, for every book that is sold 5 kids get an hour of coding.
  • You can pick up a copy here.

About Jeremy (adapted from his LinkedIn profile)

Jeremy WaiteJeremy is a strategist for Salesforce, the world’s fastest growing software company, and (according to Forbes Magazine), the world’s most innovative company for the last 4 years! When he’s not talking about digital marketing at a conference somewhere, you will probably find him racing a bicycle, writing, drinking whiskey or eating fine cheese.

In past lives he has owned his own agency, written some books and worked for brands such as Nike, MTV, Rovio, Zynga, Dell, BMW and Vodafone. He also has worked on strategic accounts at TBG Digital (Facebook’s largest ad agency at the time and agency of the year in 2012), built the UK’s largest social media program for Phones 4u Group and led the social strategy team for Adobe EMEA. He’s also spent some time as a cocktail bartender and a giraffe keeper!

In addition, he’s been voted, amongst other things:

  • Voted the Most Influential Person on Twitter in 2015 for #BigData by Onalytica
  • The 3rd most Influential Social Media Marketer in the UK The Drum
  • Top 100 Digital Marketer in the UK by British Interactive Media Association (BIMA)

He’s passionate about building communities and helping brands to stand for something bigger than themselves. He loves the way Steve Jobs described his work at Apple and has a similar feeling about what they are doing at Salesforce ~ “We exist at the intersection of humanity and technology”. In real terms, that means he spends a lot of his time talking about customer journeys, the Internet of Things, loyalty, business strategy, social business, measurement and big data.

The easiest way to see what he’s about is by following him on Twitter @JeremyWaite, or by reading his posts on Linkedin and

Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book here.

Photo Credit: Tony Webster via Compfight cc

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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