Peter Neiman -  Julia Goebel
July 22, 2022

B2B World… Meet Purpose-Driven Marketing

Guest: Peter Neiman - Julia Goebel - CMOs, Amalgamated Bank - symplr

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In case you weren’t sure about the power of purpose, this episode of Renegade Marketers Unite with CMO Peter Neiman of Amalgamated Bank and VP of Growth Marketing Julia Goebel of symplr may just clear things up for you. The marketing execs at these organizations have seen it first-hand—purpose wins employees, customers, and prospects in ways that even the most impressive swag cannot. 

Tune in for a fascinating episode as we cover how marketers can help their organizations embed purpose into everything they do, why the business you may lose isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, how to avoid “purpose-washing,” and more! 

 [Update: At the time of this interview, Julia Goebel’s title was CMO of Halo Health. Since then, Halo Health was acquired by symplr. The new name of the Halo product is symplr Communications.]

What You’ll Learn 

  • What it means to be a purpose-driven brand
  • How purpose can benefit employee and customer retention efforts
  • How to avoid “purpose-washing”

Resources Mentioned

Highlights

  • [03:35] 99 years of purpose at Amalgamated Bank
  • [12:58] Purpose is built-in at Halo Health (acquired by symplr)  
  • [23:16] How to help your organization find its purpose 
  • [25:13] CMO Huddles Testimonials
  • [27:15] Purpose & employee recruiting/retention 
  • [31:45] Where B2B brand values fit in
  • [35:26] Purpose & customer retention
  • [39:00] Purpose & pipeline 
  • [43:48] Avoiding purpose-washing 
  • [45:35] Peter and Julia’s tips for purpose-driven brands

Highlighted Quotes 

“We've been socially responsible for 99 years. This is not lip service or not planting trees. This is actually using our voice and our money to stand up for what we believe in.” —Peter Neiman @AmalgamatedBank Click To Tweet

“Being B2B, I don't need 100% awareness. I just need the right awareness.” —Peter Neiman @AmalgamatedBank Click To Tweet

“Purpose isn’t going to be optional down the road. It's the way that all brands are going to differentiate themselves now, especially those that don't have a highly differentiated product.” —Peter Neiman @AmalgamatedBank Click To Tweet

“We're not only standing up a purpose that's believable and executable, but ensuring that it is it is durable. That’s it's not just a campaign this year, it’s something much larger than that.” —@GoebelJulia @symplr Click To Tweet

“We don't want to ever, as marketers, represent something that is different than our core.” —@GoebelJulia @symplr Click To Tweet

“Employees have a choice now more than ever… How are we helping them find their best selves or their purpose in the work that they do? I don't think we can lose sight of that. It's too important.” —@GoebelJulia @symplr Click To Tweet

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 302 on YouTube

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Peter Neiman and Julia Goebel

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you may also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one New B2B Audio Book by Book Authority. Kinda cool, right? You can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio platform, feel free to check it out. Now, speaking of podcast before we get into today’s show, I want to do a shout out to the podcast professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them about three months ago to make this show even better, and I have been blown away by both their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show — by the way, they have helped us double our downloads. I’m just—I’m not—I’m, like serious, they have helped us double that’s the kind of impact they have. So if you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at ShareYourGenius.com and tell her Drew sent you. Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing at Renegade, Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: I’m your host Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. 

Purpose is a word you hear a lot today in marketing circles as a means of differentiating in a commoditized world. Most of the time, the context is consumer brands — think REI, or Patagonia, and them being recognized for their environmental initiatives. But what you don’t hear as much about is the role of purpose for business to business brands. Ironically, as I talk about in my most recent book — that’s Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands — having an authentic purpose can deliver an even greater competitive advantage for B2B brands, particularly when you consider the wide range of audiences. For example, right now, many B2B brands are in an epic battle to retain and recruit talent, talent that is significantly more likely to want to work for a purpose driven organization. While there’s a lot of data out there supporting the power of purpose, it’s not without its detractors, some who decry the use of purpose as a superficial marketing gimmick, others who challenge the idea as liberal wishful thinking, and that business is better off just focusing on quality and price. So in this show, we’re not going to treat purpose as a given, but instead make the case discussing the benefits and challenges with a couple of marketers at various stages of the purpose journey. 

So with that, let’s bring on Peter Neiman who’s the CMO of Amalgamated Bank. Welcome, Peter.

Peter Neiman: Hi, Drew. Hi, everybody. Nice to be here.

Drew Neisser: It’s great to have you here. Both of us in the northeast, I think right? Where are you based, Peter?

Peter Neiman: This is — I’m coming to you from Harrison, New York.

Drew Neisser: Harrison, New York. All right, well, Amalgamated. And you and I’ve talked about this at length, had a purpose before purpose was a thing. Can you talk about the origins of the bank and how it started with what we now sort of will call purpose?

Peter Neiman: Sure, thanks, Drew. You know, we are — we were — Amalgamated Bank was founded in New York in 1923 by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. And time, it was a way for Eastern European immigrants to protect their money. They were literally putting it in the mattress, and also to send it back home to their families in, you know, in Russia and, and in other areas of Eastern Europe. And it was a — it was unique back then, because banking was really just for the wealthy, you know, think, you know, Rockefellers and Carnegie’s. And we were really the first bank that was for working people and not for wealthy people. So we’ve had a purpose for now 99 years. And that really was the genesis of Amalgamated Bank.

Peter Neiman: Well, and as I think about it, when you say, for working people, and that alone — one of the ways to get to purpose is by who you serve, right, but it’s also a little bit about how you serve them, and the choices that you make, because if you serve these folks, you have to make a decision and you know, the sort of the definition of strategy is knowing what you say no, too. So who do you serve and who don’t you serve?

Peter Neiman: Yeah. So you know, it’s a little bit of a challenge because, you know, most people are unaware what banks do with the money that they received from the their depositors. So when they put it in the bank, about 42% of the people think that the bank is holding it in their account. And that, you know, it’s just waiting for them to take it back out. And so what happens is that, the way banks make money is we lend and invest it, and how we lend and invest is really the way that how we can — how we narrow our target and how we do that — we use all of the money that we take in for really to lend back out to companies and to invest in things that have are socially, racially, economically or environmentally, you know, for justice. And so, you know, we want people from companies and organizations that really care about where their money is going and how it’s lent out and invested is our target. And that really — from a B2B standpoint, Drew, we have six segments that we target. We target unions, and again, the working people in the in those unions. We target nonprofits, nonprofit organizations. We target foundations. We target human needs organizations, socially responsible businesses, and progressive political organizations and campaigns. And Amalgamated is the bank for many of the Democratic candidates, senators, and and Democratic National Committee. So we are proudly, a liberal, as you had said before, and proudly target what we’ll say 50% of America.

Drew Neisser: And what says — So several thoughts come to mind. And I just — one of the things that it’s it’s kind of liberating as a marketer, when you know exactly who you’re targeting, and part of it is — and who you’re serving, because when you serve a particular market, you get better and better at it, you know, what their unique needs are, and you’re capable of meeting it. So that all makes sense to me. And one of the things that, you know, in my book I talk about — I interviewed this, the CMO of Bank of the West, and that’s a, you know, a bank that certainly — and one of the words that he used, that people don’t realize that their money has agency that where their money goes. And I think that is a universal truth that people don’t realize it right. And so it probably ends up well — they may not know where the money goes, but at least they know who the money is coming from. Right. Right. And that’s one of the things that they — when they made the decision to really focus and say, We’re not going to invest in anything that wasn’t sustainable. It cost him like 1.8 billion in assets, it was a big hit that they took, and I’m imagining that you probably had to turn some customers down too.

Peter Neiman: I think that when you first were when when you take stance, and we’re not afraid to take a stand on issues, you know, especially women’s rights, or workers rights or on gun safety. And to an extent, there are people who disagree with you, and when you go public with your points of view, will vote by taking away their dollars from you. And I probably can’t quantify what we haven’t taken in. But I think what we would say is that we have made more money bringing people in than we have lost taking it in. But again, we know that we’re not going to get certain segments of the market.

Drew Neisser: Right, and that sort of — it’s built into the business plan. And I’m thinking of professor, Kimberly Whitler right now, who is writing consistently about how businesses probably shouldn’t take a stand in her mind, certainly mass brands, and, you know, we get into a debate on it, and I love debating her on it, because, you know, being a brand means standing for something. 

And, in certainly, that doesn’t mean you have to have a purpose, but in your case, it does. It’s very, they’re connected, taking a stand aligns with your purpose, and your purpose aligns with taking a stand. So, talk a little bit about because I don’t think people realize that a bank could be B2B, it could be primarily B2B, but — right, when you mentioned unions and nonprofits, and those are not, you know, there are people at those places like unions, but these are businesses.

Peter Neiman: Yeah. We want to hold the unions money, the pension funds and the sort of the bigger accounts. The individuals at the Union we’d love them to bank with us, of course, but that’s not who we target and it’s not who we market to. But you know, but we show that we that — we are aligned with unions. We’re the first bank to raise our minimum wage to $15. And then to $20 an hour. And we just in our, in our marketing, didn’t talk about how we’re a great bank for unions, we talked about how important it was for everybody in the financial service industry, tellers weren’t making $15 an hour. So behind the scenes of people at call centers and in other jobs weren’t  really making a living wage. And we asked the, you know, we were the first ones to do that. And we asked the financial service industry to come follow us. And that’s how we show sort of support for the areas we care about is by the issues, not by the products.

Drew Neisser: We’ve talked so far, mainly about purpose as a way, you know, that’s defined who you serve, and where you invest your money. I wonder, can you talk a little bit about link purpose to the marketing that you do, and how it sort of comes to life? 

Peter Neiman: Sure. So like I said, instead of focusing on products, and services, I mean, you know, if we have products that are that are socially responsible products, we’ll definitely definitely talk about that. But what we care about — are — we have 10 issues that we focus on, I won’t mention all 10 of them. But you know, the workers’ rights, which is definitely one of them, women’s rights as one. We are all for a woman’s right to choose. And one of our clients is Planned Parenthood of New York, and we’ll, you know, we’ll support them, we’ll work with them on social media and on other things, we’re on their panels. And really fight for the legislation. And because we’re the bank of a lot of Democratic candidates and senators, we actually use our network to, to support each other’s positions, that right now would be considered progressive. And what we do in our advertising is, is we focus on the issues, not on the bank products and services. And by that I mean, you know, we’re talking about how we are measuring our loans, carbon footprints, so that we know that when we take a loan, if it’s polluting the planet, of a — if a building is polluting the planet or if it’s not — if it’s something that that we feel is not working, not supporting carbon neutrality, we won’t take the loan, you know, that’s where we lose them. That’s where we lose the money as you would, as you had mentioned before, but you know, we were in the middle right now, there’ll be a discussion about overdraft fees, and there’ll be a draft, you know, and we were the first bank to have free savings accounts and the first bank in New York to do free checking, you know. We are really trying to serve a community of what we feel is underserved people.

Drew Neisser: What’s interesting to me on this is that, obviously, we are in a polarized, you know, political situation, where you kind of — people sort of raise their hands and this happened, you know, for good or for bad, but I’m wondering, it feels like in your case, since you’ve been taking a stand for a long time, this may have been really good for you.

Peter Neiman: You say, Do you know — we just what I said is that we, you know, our strategy is 99 years old, you know, it truly is — you know, this is where, you know, how we can differentiate from other banks. All the banks want to come in and all the other — everybody wants to come in on the purpose. But I think that we have the authentic chops to say, you know, look, we’ve been socially responsible for 99 years, this is not lip service, or this is not planting trees. This is actually doing real — We’re using our voice and our money to stand up for what we believe in.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. All right. Well, we’re going to come back to you. Right now we’re going to go to Julia Goebel in from Halo Health, we’re going to move from banking to health. And so you know, what could be more important than after your money then your health? So welcome Julia. 

Julia Goebel: I mean, we’re really covering the necessities, I think, and that’s the best part of these conversation.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I’m gonna have to go back to Peter, we got it, we’re gonna have to have him back on and do a show on, you know, what it means to be 100 because there are brands that are — so hello. And so how are you? 

Julia Goebel: Well, Drew, thank you. It’s great to be on. 

Drew Neisser: And where are you? 

Julia Goebel: So I live in the Chicago area. I’m in the near north suburbs.

Drew Neisser: Okay. And I know that Halo Health was recently acquired, but can you talk a little bit about the pre acquisition company and the role that may be purpose played in your marking?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, absolutely. So, first of all, Halo Health was a Bain Capital ventures and refinery ventures backed organization, we were and remain focused on healthcare is clinical collaboration and communication solutions. So, within healthcare, it’s commonly known that communication is protected and must abide by HIPAA compliance and a number of high tech compliance regulations. And so, Halo fills a space that’s vital. And that clinician should be able to communicate just as quickly as you and I do with our devices, we should be able to clinician should be able to share messages, activate traumas, and move to the next most important acute action, sharing information securely, quickly, images, EHR records, and so forth. And that’s the space that Halo Health holds. And the company was acquired late last year by symplr, a leader in health care operations software. And, in fact, symplr is in nine out of 10 hospitals, and has acquired best of breed solutions, just like Halo Health, to improve the operations of hospitals and health systems, because nothing’s more important than having a great pit crew, so to speak. And that is where symplr solutions come in.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I would imagine, right. You know, I mean, the stress in the health care industry, I mean, cause —

Julia Goebel: It’s been significant.

Drew Neisser: —the pandemic has been, you know, just beyond imagining, I mean, you know, other than maybe it’s hard to imagine an industry that has been more frontline and more stressed, then your industry and I wonder, because in some ways your solution is is so forward looking, and they’re saying we’re just trying to deal with today. That — how has, you know, it must have been — I know that hospitals and all these organizations want to be more efficient, they want to do these things better, and they know that but what happened with all these digital transformation issues during COVID?

Julia Goebel: Well, certainly, and it’s a great question. Healthcare has been on a transformation journey for some time, you know, certainly with the introduction of electronic health records, EHR 10 to 15 years ago, as a information and business priority, you know, more recently, revenue cycle management software. So there’s certainly been a lens and an aim to improve the efficiency of health care. And then, you know, we as consumers, whether we’ve had it healthcare experience, or, to your point, workforce matters, most of us know, or our friends or have family members who are clinicians, clinical staff, involved in the ancillary roles around field. And so it’s no doubt that the pandemic put quite an emphasis and a pressure point on it and more than we’ve ever seen in our lifetime, certainly. And so not only is digital transformation, important, but often, solutions that help keep the lights on are important. And so that’s areas we talked about, with respect to staffing solutions with respect to time and attendance and ensuring that we have coverage, these are all the things that hospital administrators are struggling with right now. Never has the workforce been under so much duress, and for such an extended time. And so one of the things that’s, you know, obviously, front and center for hospital administrators, and team members of all of all stripes is how do I help my team members get to the next day, from the stress and wellness perspective?

Drew Neisser: So, you know, we know that health care, in a sense is in theory as a purpose built in — it’s obviously to provide the health of caring, what is your sort of if you if as a few see yourself? I mean, we can just go to Halo did, was there an articulated purpose for the organization?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, certainly, I’ll start with Halo. And then, you know, I think like it, I’d love to kind of just share my personal experiences too, you know, Halo was founded by clinicians. And in fact, to oncologists discovered that there was a need for a better way to connect, especially interdisciplinary medicine with in cancer care is at the heart of that. It’s not only nutrition, but it’s radiology and all of the modality is brought to bear and these oncologists felt that there had to be a better way. And so that was sort of the genesis of Halo. And Halo always was a purpose driven organization in that in that regard. We have to make it easier. We have to make it better and quicker to connect with the information you need to be able to make clinical decisions. And so, throughout Halo’s history, and a decade of its growth, it was always embedded. In fact, we’d have sect segments during team gatherings during company meetings where we would have a moment called Connect to Purpose. And the Connect to Purpose moment was where we would share, for example, a clinical experience, and how our solution was involved in it. And it’s easy to point to many, but also, when you have, you know, a software engineer, you know, financial team members who aren’t maybe as close to the care delivery, it’s really helpful within a company to say, here’s how your work matters and connects to what our customers use. And so, Halo found those connected purpose moments, you know, great ways for us to say, at the end of the day, the work that you do in coding or the work that you do in accounts payable ties back to putting a device and clinicians hands that helps them save lives. So that was a very purposeful, you know, part of our, our DNA of Halo, and as we’ve grown and become part of symplr. Symplr, likewise has the opportunities for us each to connect to purpose.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. So in some ways — in my book, I talk about big P purpose, and a little p purpose and big P purpose is really, let’s save the world. And we’re going to organization, we’re going to — and little P purpose is — it’s like Toughbook, which is, you know, it’s a ruggedized notebook that will break when you’re out in the field, doing something that requires that kind of thing. And it’s okay, I mean, I don’t think every company and what I heard, that’s sort of interesting, and in many ways is, it’s a little p purpose connected to a big P purpose. It’s a, it’s, you know, your organization helps connect people connect clinicians connect these folks, so that they can do the things that they want to do the things that they that really matters. So there’s a, it’s kind of interesting, there’s sort of a functional purpose. And then there’s the greater purpose, right, is that a fair articulates?

Julia Goebel: I think that’s exactly right. And, you know, all of those man management studies suggest that when employees feel connected to the work, that there is more satisfaction, that can help employee retention. And I think, both as an outward and overt activity, it’s important to connect individuals to the greater purpose, the capital P purpose, but also just on a day to day basis to make sure that the what I did today has a has a greater meaning. And I think we’re seeing that a lot with a great resignation, people choosing with their hearts, as well as their career. 

Drew Neisser: And well then. So this is the interesting part of this is, so if you are an organization that has purpose, and is doing and employees feel connected to that purpose, and in theory, recruiting and retention, is better, easier for you. Has it been?

Julia Goebel: Well, you know, it’s interesting, and this is such a fascinating time, right, we’re seeing in a lot of the coverage, a lot of the stories are saying the great resignation is not so much. I don’t want to be a marketer, or I don’t want to do X, it’s that I need a change. And so it’s been interesting to see that after, in some cases, 24 months of keeping the lights on in their roles, people are saying, you know, I need to take a pause and look at — look elsewhere. But we’re also seeing a lot of people choose to try something else. And so I think that’s really fascinating. I’ve got a woman within my group who was a physical therapist and decided she wanted to be in some other, you know, non clinical part of healthcare and chose chose a new role and is involved in our business development efforts. And I think there’s lots of examples of that. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say we are always hiring and growing. And please check out symplr careers.

Drew Neisser: I mean, it’s really hard because as a growth organization you are sort of you want to go here, which means you’re always hiring in and there’s, you know, folks falling off the back of the truck, for any number of reasons. And we’ve talked about this in huddles a lot is that, you know, the irony of work from home is that there’s no commute time where you get to think on your own and just be chill there. And in what happened is we all donated extra hours to work. And so I — you know, the the great resignation to me is as much a part of just — there’s jobs out there, and I’m tired.

Julia Goebel: I think that’s right. I think that’s right. And I think we’ll also see a little bit of settling. You know, we’re seeing a lot of movement right now. I think it’ll come to — people come to a crest and things will start to ease. But it’s true. It’s true. The deep thinking is something that I know a lot of employees and employers are are striving for giving, giving team members moments in between zoom calls in between the teams, calls to have that deeper work at deeper time.

Drew Neisser: Got it? Well, let’s bring Peter back and let’s talk a little bit about you know — I mean, Peter, in your case, you had a purpose for 99 years. But I imagine as the — you’ve been there several years now, you needed to find new ways to articulate it or new sort of something, to bring it fresh. And I’m imagining Julia similarly, talk a little bit about whatever process or your thinking process for how you get to purpose because I know a lot of the folks that are listening and say, I love the idea, I wish I worked for purpose driven Corporation, I don’t know where to start, and helping to sort of find it in and then get, get a momentum around it Do either of you have experienced either your current job or, or past jobs, where you you really help the organization sort of see its purpose?

Peter Neiman: I’ll start, Drew and I think it’s, you know, one of the things that you do, obviously, if you can do actions that just speaks louder than words. A lot of people do it by who they donate to, or what they are, who they partner with, and what they do. So it’s an easy way to do that, or, you know, buy our products and we’ll plant trees or buy our products. And we’ll do something that that’s good for the environment. And I think that’s where the greenwashing comes in that you’re always doing that. And real environmental activists don’t even know whether planting trees is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you plant them. So you know, it’s one of those things. So what I would say, though, is that you can always partner with with somebody or sponsor or partner with people. We at the bank this year partnered with the WNBA, Players Association. The WNBA, the women of the WNBA are really amazing at speaking their minds and speaking up for equal rights, for women’s rights, LGBQT rights, equal pay, you know, just they — everything that they believe in — it’s a league that that 75% Women of Color, probably 50% LGBQT and it’s one of those things where everything that they believe in, we believe in as a bank. And so one of the things that we did was sort of work with them on a program to help them with the, with the with the nonprofits that they believed in, and, and work there. So that’s, that’s one way to do it when you don’t have the chops yourself. You know, we don’t even have the awareness. And Julia, we’re coming to Chicago. So, you know, at Amalgamated Bank where we, we just bought the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago. 

And so, but it’s one of those things where our awareness for the world is under 5%, for even in the place, even in New York, we’re under 30%, Drew, and we’ve been here 99 years. So we need to get somebody to you know, we need to get to build that to build that up as well. And being B2B, you know, I don’t need 100% awareness. I just need the right awareness.  

Drew Neisser  

Right. Interesting. Interesting. Okay. So I am going to actually now spend a second and talk about CMO Huddles. And if so, well, let’s just talk about that. If you don’t mind. I’m going to plug CMO Huddles for a second launched in 2020. CMO Huddles is an invitation only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share care and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another called it across between an expert workshop and a therapy session. Now, Peter, Julia, you both been in some huddles feel free to share your experience. Did that sound about right?

Julia Goebel  

It sure did. And I think what’s important is, you know, each of us in our roles often are the sole or the terminal marketer, among many other business functions. I think it’s really important for us to have pure relationships, peer groups that allow us to sharpen right and understand what other challenges you’re facing. And I think that’s where the therapy piece comes in. But additionally, here, what what’s leading what they’ve tried, what’s working, what’s not, it’s really important collaboration.

Drew Neisser  

Love it. Peter, anything to add?

Peter Neiman  

Yeah, thanks, Drew. First of all, thanks for calling us elite. That’ll be the first that’ll be a first and I appreciate that. Secondly, I find — I’m going to echo that that enables you to be vulnerable, because, you know, in your own organization, you don’t want to say what you don’t know where as here, it’s a place where you can unabashedly say I don’t know how to do this. Could somebody please help me and I think that’s incredibly valuable for for CMOs.

Drew Neisser  

I love it. Oh, Okay, well, if you’re listening, and you’re a B2B CMO that can share Karen Derr with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com, or hit me up on LinkedIn, Drew Neisser. I’m on LinkedIn pretty visibly and see if you qualify for a guest pass. 

Alright. So we started to talk about this a little bit about recruiting and retention. And you know, in my book, I talk about this a lot in the just thinking from a B2B standpoint, you have sort of three primary targets, employees, customers, and prospects, and all of those have influence on each other. But when we think about purpose, and Julia, you mentioned this, that purpose, can play this role for recruiting and retention and again, so I’m wondering, Peter, from your standpoint, I’m imagining that employees align with the brand. I mean, it would be hard to be a Trumper and for example, and work at the bank? 

Peter Neiman: Yeah, I think, you know, we, we definitely appeal to people who share and align with the values, there’s no question about that. And, you know, I think that is especially true for when we’re recruiting and bringing in new people that it is definitely a selling point, as you know, as younger people want to work for a company that isn’t afraid to share its values or where it on its sleeve, you know, we do — the people who are coming in now are much more excited about that and want to live the brand and want us to do more than than what we’re doing.

Drew Neisser: Interesting, I could see that it’s like yeah, we got to do more, we got to do more. And so, how does this how do they discover it and what is their own inculcation process where you sort of bring that to them and educate new employees on the, on the brand?

Peter Neiman: You know, I think that that our biggest, our biggest source of new people is the word of mouth. And we actually source a lot of employees from the organizations and the activism community, for people who, who have come in contact with us who are either clients or prospects and want to — and like what we’re doing the there is not a formal onboarding process on mission, it’s part of a much bigger onboarding process that talks about what your benefits are, and to make sure that you know, the rules of banking and, and that kind of thing. But realistically, everything that we do is mission driven. And so they’re, you know, you get indoctrinated in the 99 year history of this and what we’ve done in the past and our history of responsibility, but I wish and part of our plan is to get a much more formal training program or a much more formal onboarding program for new employees.

Drew Neisser: To sort of bring that spirit through the process so that they can be apostles if you will to go to our favorite gin brand of the day. And Julia, as I was thinking about it and listening to Peter’s answer, you have been — knowing that you’ve had that we’ll call it industry, normal turnover in this crazy time. Wondering what do you see moving forward in terms of training and helping employees get to know this better to try to make it stickier?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think one of the things that symplr leadership is really mindful of is that it has grown through acquisition, so you have team members who have arrived through different means they may have been part of a company that was purchased and integrated in, which is different than when you make a career choice to join a company. And so we’re mindful of that. And specifically, this, the company has grown so much over the last 12 to 24 months, one of the areas of focus in 2021 was establishing and rolling out core values training embedded throughout the team. And in fact, launching it with a combined with a larger internal communications strategy. And we have a fabulous internal comms team that is mindful of all of those changes that have occurred, we also are very intentional about the way that team members join and some of the onboarding, post acquisition. And then of course, for team members who joined the traditional way, not only is it part of you might say the onboarding is, and I like to Peter frames that, it’s part of a larger story. But we know, there’s also ongoing moments to emphasize where someone has, you know, reached True North, or we have teamwork embodied. And so we work in ways to acknowledge that and recognize that as part of employee recognition. 

Drew Neisser: And I’m so glad you mentioned values as part of this conversation. And there was a there’s a great article that we’ll share in the notes later on, unless we have it, Melissa, that was a little bit argumentative about purpose, and said, You know, I think a lot of people are getting purpose wrong, it’s too superficial. And it’s not rooted in any sort of core values of the organization. So it’s, it’s what he used the term purpose washing. And I know that sort of what you, Peter, were talking about with greenwashing. But this is on a larger level, when you start to say, yes, we’re a purpose driven organization. But our values are really sell, sell, sell, and profit at any price. So I’m wondering, in Peter in where do values fit in, and from this standpoint, for the bank?

Peter Neiman: Well, I think that it starts with mission and vision and values, and I know that marketers love those things, but realistically, you know, the, you know, we have a mission to be a socially responsible bank that advances positive change. And, you know, the first thing that we did was, we became a B Corp, which is a third party, really, you know, B labs, looks at all of our internal workings and all of the ways that we do business, and not just our ESG, but really everything that we’re doing, and determines that as a business, we’re a good business, that we are a good actor a good bit, you know, that we behave well. And that we put purpose and the planet and our employees and our, in our community, as important as our shareholders. And so there is an opportunity to get, you know, and obviously, we get rated also by companies who rate us on ESG on our stock, as well. But to an extent our mission and vision and values are the what it for — in our internal employees are what we say you are living — you have to live this and we actually evaluate people on how they do on some of those values.

Drew Neisser: And so many things I want to unpack there, just first of all, converting to a B Corp. I don’t know how many B corp. there are. But that’s a big deal.

Peter Neiman: Yeah, there’s only 4000 of them Drew. There’s four thousand, you know, and, you know, three years ago, there were 2000. So it’s growing right now, and some of the big companies, you know, Athleta, Dan, and, you know, some of the Patagonia as you mentioned before, you know, the some of the bigger companies are doing it as well, it’s much harder for a bigger company to live up to those standards sometimes. But more and more, it’s going to become you know, it’s the Good Housekeeping Seal, not to date ourselves. Here, but it is really a third party validation of what you’re doing.

Drew Neisser: Right as a focus on a triple bottom line that I in a sense, which I think is so interesting, and I wonder if in some ways, if you’re not a B Corp, can you really talk about purpose? I don’t, that’s a really interesting question. We’re not gonna You don’t have to answer that, Julia because I don’t think you guys are a B Corp. And but I it is an interesting one because it does mean that every aspect of the business is committed to sort of a certain level of values in, you know, a goodness. Mmm. Interesting. Julia, any thoughts on that, where we’ve been with the values?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, you know, certainly I think I think the point that was shared is that it’s not enough to simply put it on a wall, put it on plaque, and I think it’s in the way we embody and live out the true values in our day to day, you know, I have, for example, a mousepad, that has our core values on it, it gives me an opportunity to just sort of be reminded of it. And I think, you know, team members look to us to see how we’re living out the core values, whether they’re in the framework of the work that we do, or the way that we behave. It’s important to do so. But as we’re talking about be corpse, I find it really fascinating. I think it’s really interesting, given what we we do from a connection to clinical care, to explore why it makes sense for us as we continue to grow.

Drew Neisser: There you go. Okay. Well, and I love the fact that you shared the thing, because this is the moment in the show, when we ask what would Ben Franklin say, and what’s so interesting that you just sort of said this, that it’s — it can’t be just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk, it just can’t be words. And when we’re talking about purpose, so the quote that I’m going to share is “words may show a man’s wit, but actions his meaning.” Thank you, Ben. Well said. So, let’s talk about it now. We talked about employees, let’s talk about the role with customer retention, and how that works. And in the role that purpose plays? And maybe, Peter, you can speak to that?

Peter Neiman: Yeah, sure. You know, um, we do a study, we do, you know, a net promoter score, study or satisfaction study every year, with customers, but one of the questions that we asked is, is why you came to the bank. And you know, and we realize that, it is one of those things where, when you come to the bank, if you’ve come to the bank for mission, we have to deliver on making sure that they that they stay, that they stay here, and you know, and for us, we — it’s a program for us to make sure that that all of our clients know, the good work of where their own money is being invested, or where their own money is being lent to. So whether it’s our CSR report, or whether it’s an impact loan lending study, or what it is, we’re trying to communicate to our customers, just where their money is going, so that they know that we’re doing the right thing with it. And then we’re asking them to, you know, to say, look, you’re banking with us. Do you want — can you also loan or invest with us as well, you know, when the idea is not just retaining, but also to help to help sell.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. And as, as you were talking about a certain level of transparency, I just, I couldn’t help but think of Charity Water, which is, you know, incredible charity that basically drills wells in places that don’t have water. And if you give them money, and no matter what, how much you give them,  you’ll get a video that will show you when the well that you funded gets — I mean, you’re so connected all the way through it. And I don’t think very, you know, in the financial world, I don’t think very many people do that. And it’s such a, it’s such a vivid thing, and people are shocked and a little bit surprised. And I think with a nonprofit, when you’re giving money to them, you kind of want to know, but in a bank, you just didn’t think about it. So interesting. Okay, Julia, what about, from your standpoint, purpose connecting to retention?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, you know, like a lot of software companies, we measure NPS and customer satisfaction, CSAT instruments. But we also have ability to reflect on usage. And I think one of the things that’s interesting about usage patterns is to see where they align with customer satisfaction. And that’s one area that Halo is certainly focused on. And as we grow and join the large organization, will be part of the calculus two, there’s lots of ways to discern as a customer happy or not. And, in particular, it’s not simply one of those elements. It’s all of those elements, you know, in a different way — we learn a lot about how our clients are doing through, you know, other other relationships that we have with them. One of our offerings is around vendor credentialing and the visitors to hospitals and so we’ve certainly seen some issues interesting trends to our customer hospitals as the pandemic has — as its flowed. And so that’s that’s been an interesting signal that we can use to monitor, you know, how things are going at an organization with respect to how many visitors they permit? Or how many vendor credentials are requested? Yes, certainly, one of the things I’ve always loved about software is the ability to have additional insights.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. Okay. So we’ve talked about consent, we’ve talked about employees, we’ve talked about customers, and the role there. I mean, clearly, part of this is you’re putting forward a purpose, if people agree with that purpose, they’re more inclined to, to come to you and stay with you, but we really haven’t talked about it from an acquisition standpoint. And, you know, I’m interested in sort of, where does that play, because every CMO is faced with the reality of, well, we have growth targets, and you got to help fill the pipeline. And, you know, and I’m just curious, as you look at it, maybe Julia, you can talk a little bit about, does that mean — Because a lot of times this thing gets down to well, what’s your features and functionality, your selling software? And you know, you got to get it, we got to do the demo.

Julia Goebel: Sure, sure.

Drew Neisser: When does sort of purpose, or did you start to get in the way of the sales process? If ever?

Julia Goebel: Yeah, you know, I would think about it this way, you know, certainly as I have transitioned from my role as Chief Marketing Officer of Halo Health into symplr, I’m now assuming a role as head of growth marketing, reporting to our CMO. And so I have a unique perspective, and that is now part and parcel exactly what I’m focused on, how do we grow? How do we help new new prospects? See the value of our solutions enough to take the step and to participate in it in a demo process, a sales process? How do we help existing customers see the value and then consider a second, a third, a fourth solution? And so, you know, I think about this a couple of ways. You know, certainly every buying committee, and frankly, we see a lot of buying committee decisions in our in our solution sales, every buying committee is looking for social proof. Have they done what we needed to do? Have they had this experience in other like, customer settings? Have they been recognized as a leader in their area in their quadrant? And have they, you know, performed in a way that they’ve expected. So we know that analysts third party and other coverage is important to us? You know, but additionally, there can be other ways that you look at what you do. In a prior role as CMO at a Benefits Administration software organization, we knew because our buyers were HR leaders, that the factors around our customer satisfaction, were also related to employee satisfaction. So we focused very much on how were we perceived on Glassdoor and comparatively, because HR decision makers want to hire companies that are good to their people. And so I think, depending on your category, there can be a few different ways you might look at purpose and acquisition strategies.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I think one of the points in the article that Melissa shared that is interesting is, look, if you have a crappy product, or your service is bad, you know, no purpose is going to save you.

Julia Goebel: Hard to overcome. Hard to overcome.

Drew Neisser: Really sort of fundamentals. And so if quality isn’t up to, you know, competitive standards, or somehow or other, your prices are out of whack, you’re in trouble. But, you know, in so many cases, I mean, we could take a bank, for example, and we just happen to have one here. The differences in the products are kind of my new. So this is where I would think that purpose could really actually, both in terms of defining who you serve, and where the money goes, could have a big impact.

Peter Neiman: Yeah, I think it’s true. You know, we as in the aforementioned study, we found that 66% of the people who join our bank come because of the purpose. We also found that when they rate us, even the people who rate us poorly, won’t leave the bank because they believe in our purpose. So even when our products aren’t as good as some of the bigger banks, or as that, we get a pass because they like what we stand for and what we’re doing. So, you know, to an extent, it does. It does enable us to first of all bring new customers in, which is what you’re saying it is the reason that two thirds of our people come to the bank. And then it is — it actually get makes them more stickier. Then people because they’ll put up with average or below average experience or problems, and give us a pass sometimes if they believe.

Drew Neisser: What’s so interesting here, and then I’m gonna, I’m sort of put a punctuation point on is, this is the thing that’s most important to them. Yeah. Right. And I remember a case history of another bank. And I don’t know if it was a Commerce Bank. But, you know, they just went all in on convenience and ours being right. And they had the lowest — the worst interest rates in America. Yeah, but consumer didn’t care. Because the one reason they went to them was the convenience. And so it’s so interesting and so important that if you’re all in on your purpose, and you know that that purpose aligns with a certain group of people. Yeah, It can buy a lot. It’s so interesting. So I’m just curious. Maybe, Julia, you have a point of view on this. But in that article, you mentioned purpose washing? How do companies avoid this idea of purpose washing?

Julia Goebel: You know, I think it’s an important lens, right? We don’t want to ever, as marketers represent something that is different than the core. And so that’s one of the things I think about as a marketer, you know, let’s ensure that what we are presenting is consistent with our own experiences with our own company’s delivery. And so that’s something I’m always mindful of, you know, I think the example of greenwashing. It’s tricky. But there are examples all over where it’s been done. Well, you know, and so we want to, you know, be mindful of simply putting a beautiful campaign around it is not the same as living out a purpose and demonstrating those core values. And so I think it’s something that a lot of marketers think about, and how do we ensure that we’re not only standing up a purpose that’s believable and executable, but ensuring that it is indoor, it is durable, it’s not just a campaign this year? It’s something much larger than that.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I think that’s the point that this is not, this is not just a marketing thing. And that’s if there’s one lesson from this show, it is an organizational thing, marketing gets to express it, they might be the most visible of it. But if employees aren’t trained and don’t believe in it, customers aren’t sort of acknowledge it and recognize it, then it is this this notion of, of purpose washing. I did want to mention for the folks that have made it all the way this far, if you’re listening to this, or you hear it later, the chapter in my book, chapter three: pounds on your purpose, talks about both big P and little P purpose. And I’m more than happy to email you that chapter. So just hit me up on LinkedIn, say, hey, Drew, I want Chapter Three pounds on your purpose. And we’ll do it and I’m really interested in your input and how you’re bringing purpose to your organization. Last words, Peter, any sort of advice for your fellow CMOs, who may be just starting on this journey?

Peter Neiman: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be optional down the road. I think it’s the way that all brands are going to differentiate themselves now, especially those that don’t have a highly differentiated product. And especially if you’re a public company, right now, you’re — we’re all being evaluated on our on our ESG practices and standards. And I just would say that, you know, if if you haven’t started on this journey, it’s really to your detriment, right. Now, we’ve got to find a way to to have something unique to support and to find that purpose.

Drew Neisser: Go for it. Okay, Julia, last word.

Julia Goebel: Yeah, I think we’ve always talked about how customers have a choice, but I think it’s really important. We’re mindful that employees have a choice. Now more than ever, and so it’s incumbent on us as leaders to ensure that the time that they’re with us while we are in the same orbit, how are we helping them find their best selves or find their purpose in the work that they do? I don’t think we can lose sight of that. It’s too important.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Okay. Great. Well, Peter, Julia, thank you. You’re both great sports. Thank you, audience for staying with us. Please join us in two weeks when we’ll be talking about B2B branding with Heather Salerno, Marshall Poindexter, and maybe a surprise guest. Cue the music.

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For more interviews with innovative marketers, visit renegade.com/podcasts and hit that subscribe button. Thank you.

Renegade marketers. Unite is now a production of share your genius. Melissa Caffrey is our content director. The music is by the amazing burns twins and intro. Voiceover is Linda Cornelius to find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about them. And the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York city.

Please visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

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