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Episode 108

Building a Mission-Drive eCommerce Brand

Stephen Carl - Needle Movement
February 26, 2020

Transparency.  Sustainability.  Social responsibility.  More than just buzz words these are now expectations that consumers have of the brands they buy from.  In this episode, we dive into what it means to be a mission-driven eCommerce brand.  We share lots of powerful examples like Everlane, All Birds and more.
My friend Ezra Firestone’s company Smart Marketer has the perfect slogan - Serve the World Unselfishly and Profit.  Now you can do the right thing by fighting hunger, helping orphans, cleaning up the environment or supporting mental health AND build a profitable brand in the process.
In this episode with Stephen we discuss the following:
- Who is the conscious consumer and how are they impacting eCommerce?
- Do companies have to go “all-in” on a mission or can this be a gradual process?
- What is “greenwashing” and why should you avoid it?
- Exploring the Mission Driven Marketing Playbook
- Plus more!

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Needle Movement - A Digital Strategy Company

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The Needle Movement Podcast

Mentioned in this episode:

E-Dreams (2001) Documentary - IMDb
Lafayette 148 New York
MeUndies - The World’s Most Comfortable Underwear for Men & Women


Episode Transcript

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and I'm really excited about today's topic. We're diving into how to create a mission driven eCommerce business, and what that means both for the impact of your company, but also your marketing and your messaging and your growth. And so, I have on the show today an expert in this topic. He's hailing from one of my favorite cities in the world, Brooklyn, New York. Awesome place.

Brett:

Hey eCommerce Evolution listeners, Brett Curry here. I have a really cool announcement, and an invite just for you. In February, OMG Commerce is hosting an exclusive invite only event at the Google and YouTube offices in Los Angeles. Now, if you've never experienced a Google office, they really do live up to the hype. And the Google offices in LA are some of the most unique around. More on the venue in a minute. First, let me give you the scoop on the event itself. It's called YouTube Ads for eCommerce, building full funnel growth with YouTube Ads. I'll be speaking at this event, sharing some of our best YouTube Ads strategies, some of our most successful YouTube Ad templates and more. And you'll get to hear directly from some amazing YouTube team members, including some incredible content from the unskippable labs team.

Brett:

I've seen this content before and it's amazing. I'm so excited about this event, but here's the best part, it's free, but it is invite only, and you do have to apply and be approved to attend because seating is limited. So sorry, no agencies, no service providers, this is just for eCommerce companies.

Brett:

Now, as promised, more about the venue. This will be held at the Spruce Goose Hangar. This hangar was initially built by the mogul Howard Hughes. And if you've ever seen the movie The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio, then you know all about Howard Hughes and his Spruce Goose. This hangar was recently renovated in true Google fashion. Now it's a cutting edge YouTube studio and Google offices and that's where we're holding this event. It's going to be amazing. So to find out more, to check out the application, go to omgommerce.com/youtube-event. Again, that's omgcommerce.com/youtube-event. I'll also link to the event page in the show notes of this show, and I hope to see you in LA.

Brett:

My guest is Stephen Carl. He's the founder of Needle Movement, a digital strategy company focused on conscious commerce. He got his start in the industry, which we'll hear about in a minute in 1998 working for an Amazon funded startup. I can't wait to hear that story. And now, he helps eCommerce companies and commerce companies grow and define their mission and be a conscious commerce company. Very, very bright. We'll dig into all kinds of strategy and helpful tips and ideas around this topic. And so with that, Stephen, welcome to the show, thank you for taking the time and really excited to dive into this topic.

Stephen:

Thanks so much for having me here, Brad. I'm really excited to talk about mission and to get more into it.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. So let's hear a little bit about your background. I know you're also running a podcast. It's always great to chat with other podcasters, which is fun. But yeah, what's your background? Tell us a little bit about that Amazon funded startup and how did you get to this place that you're at now?

Stephen:

I have to say just even for your podcast and your listeners, listening to your podcast, it's been an inspiration for me, and I love the community that we set up. So to get into I guess, so the background and how we are, we have to go back a ways because I've been doing this for about 21 years. For me, I've always, I was really lucky because in 1998, I got to start at a company, and I think just seeing these cycles over 20 years really informs my judgment and opinions. But let's just start at the beginning at the Amazon funded startup.

Stephen:

So the name of the company was cosmo.com. And cosmo.com specialized in one hour delivery of DVDs, food items, and drugstore products. I was a very early employee there. So I got to see-

Brett:

This was in 98?

Stephen:

Right. One hour delivery in 1998.

Brett:

Talk about being ahead of your time. That's great.

Stephen:

Yeah. And I think you learn also, I think it taught me a lesson about timing because you want to be, being 20 years ahead is not always the best thing.

Brett:

Right. So true, so true.

Stephen:

Being an early employee there, I think I was like employee number five, you do a little bit of everything, especially at that time. So I got to see instant gratification firsthand because I would see these orders come in for a DVD or Ben & Jerry's ice cream. And then, in certain situations when we were flooded with orders, I would be out there delivering it. Someone orders something and seven minutes later, I come with the bag. The expression on people's faces was [crosstalk 00:06:02], yeah.

Brett:

Yeah. You're like a genie. This was too good to be true. Yeah, that's fantastic. I mean, they were getting everybody out there delivering. That's crazy. What was the fate of this company?

Stephen:

First it was running in New York City. Then it expanded out to about 10 different cities, got a lot of venture funding, including Starbucks and Amazon. And I think Amazon is so interesting because Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime is, so this program in some ways was a granddaddy.

Brett:

precursor to that, yeah.

Stephen:

So the company grew and I think at the time, around 2000, from 96 to 2000, the stock market was really encouraging companies to grow their business and to expand. And then, in 2000, there was a big crash, and everything was profitability.

Brett:

The dotcom bubble.

Stephen:

The dotcom bubble. So, a lot of companies like Cosmo got caught in this, and actually Cosmo, was in the middle of an IPO filing in that. I guess the postmortem to it is, the company didn't last. It was actually bought a few years ago, I think at least the name by someone else. But I think the real message that I learned from it is how important company culture is as you grow because everything changes at every plateau of your growth, you're a different company when you make a million, you're a different company, at three million and so on.

Stephen:

But also the importance of profitability in a business and how you can't run out of cash. I think even when you get investors, there's something to answer to there. And also, there's not an infinite cash supply, that the best way to fund your company is to be making money and making profit. So maybe-

Brett:

your own profits, absolutely.

Stephen:

I would have loved to have cashed in on the IPO and made my millions, but I think I learned a really valuable lesson early in my career about the importance, and also even, let's look at Jeff Bezos, he invested $60 million in this company and he lost it. But we can argue that he actually made well on his investment because he convinced, this was an inspiration of how Amazon eventually differentiated themselves by offering, differentiating themselves through delivery.

Brett:

Yeah. Yeah, it's so interesting. I've never heard the story of this company, but yet you wonder, did that plant the initial seeds for the idea of Prime and One Hour Prime? Did it reinforce to Bezos the fact that the marketplace wants this kind of instant gratification? What did he learn there? And if you did learn some substantial things there that helped shape Prime, I would say that $60 million loss there was not so much of a loss.

Stephen:

Exactly. You learn from what works and you learn a lot from what doesn't work at the time. If you're really interested, there is a full feature documentary about the company called eDreams.

Brett:

eDreams, nice.

Stephen:

eDreams.

Brett:

Okay. That's cool, man. We'll link to that in the show notes for sure. I love the fact that you mentioned, this isn't really our topic today but I'll just highlight it really quickly, I love that you mentioned culture because that's something that at OMG we're big believers in, protecting culture, reinforcing culture, hiring for culture. But it does change. You hit that $5 million mark or you hit 40, 50 employees. And when you hit 100 employees, which we're not 100 employees yet, but you hit these different milestones and you're like, hey, things can shift and things can shift quickly. And if you don't protect that culture, you can lose what made you valuable and what made you tick and what made you successful. And so, really important reminders there for sure.

Stephen:

I can move on with, let's see, let me go through the rest of some of the history. After Cosmo, I worked for about, for over a dozen years and I would come in as the first eCommerce hire for digital marketing. Also to bring in the culture and just tell people what they should be doing. How to translate the web to some of these companies that really weren't well versed in it. Fortunately had a great, my first experience was awesome at a company called the 92nd Street Y, which is a not for profit. And some people might be familiar with them for the day after Cyber Monday, there is a holiday called Giving Tuesday, where companies give donations, or where people are encouraged to do that. And they were instrumental in launching that holiday.

Brett:

Interesting. And you said the 92nd Street Y, like YMCA?

Stephen:

Correct. It's really like a university. They have a wide breadth of programming but it is a not for profit at its core. And then, let's see, so to take that a further step, in, let's see, about 10 years ago, I got into women's fashion and worked with a company called Lafayette 148 New York, and they do luxury women's wear. So there we went from about $8 million a year in revenue online to 45 million now about four years later.

Brett:

Wow. Crazy.

Stephen:

That was just a good mixture of, they had a prosperous catalog business and we were just plugging in digital where we couldn't take advantage of the opportunities like setting up search, good retargeting programs, and even email, just starting that from scratch and leveraging it since it can be so profitable. So after that experience, I had a little courage of saying, hey, I've been doing this inside of a lot of companies. Why don't I work outside of companies and get back to that vision of doing a startup and having my own company. So that's what started Needle Movement.

Brett:

Got it, got it. And then what really drove this focus or this desire for mission-driven business or conscious eCommerce as you describe it? What was kind of the motivating factor or the driving force behind that?

Stephen:

Great question. I think there's a couple of things. For us, I really see mission-driven marketing as, I see it from a growth perspective because I'm seeing, I think we're in, as someone who's been in the field around the same time as you, we both follow these trends and it's been fascinating to watch over the past 10 years how much, starting with Toms Shoes, and even Everlane, which started about maybe eight or nine years ago. And seeing these companies grow, and just a different formation of this economy in a way where there is now this consumer that expects more from their companies. I think this is a byproduct of social media that social media humanized brands where brands can be humans, and heck, they have human names now. But with that expectation, I think now that we have this personal relationship, the consumer is now telling the company, okay, well, what sort of social responsibility do you have?

Stephen:

I think that's the professional angle. I see mission as a good extension of strategy. On the personal side, I'm a vegetarian. And I am more active on environmental sustainability issues. I see it from that lens as well.

Brett:

I love it. I think there's, obviously when you look at mission, we're going to dive into some good examples and talk about specifically how to use mission in your brand positioning and some really helpful practical things. I think what's great about this and how the marketplace is shifting is now companies can be rewarded for doing the right thing. So looking at, hey, what is a mission that's important to me? Is it focused on kids or fighting poverty or helping the environment or a number of things? How can I help support that and grow my business at the same time?

Brett:

One of my close friends and good, we partner on some projects and stuff, Ezra Firestone, with Smart Marketer, their motto is Serve the World Unselfishly and Profit. Those seem like shouldn't go together, but they can. Doing the right thing, helping people, being real, transparent, doing good can help fuel business growth. I think that it should. And so, let's kind of dig into this. What are some hangups, why don't you describe what mission is first, and then we'll talk about maybe what are some hangups or things keeping an eCommerce company from being a mission-driven eCommerce company?

Stephen:

Okay. I think mission is simply just tying, really differentiate your company by broadening the greater good that it can do beyond just the selling of a product. So it' how is it helping the community, how is it helping, whether it's the environment, the community, how is it getting involved in some, it's really I would say calibrating more because you were talking about Ezra Firestone. I know just from listening how generous he is and how much knowledge he shares. And we know in the eCommerce community, how much mentoring happens. That generosity is in people's DNA. I think it's sort of like our marketing channels, where we're all over the place doing a lot of different touch points and running around with our heads cut off sometimes.

Stephen:

A lot of times it's just calibrating and saying, okay, in a short way, what's that one cause that you really believe in that you want to focus your energies on. I guess to answer, you know, like you were talking about, it's so nice that there's this idea of a triple P company that it's people in profits and planet that, the consumer is changing and that they're rewarding this action. That's how it's much different than it was five years ago or 10 years ago because there wasn't as many people that were going to support these products. I think a lot of times the objections in people's heads that come in is people say, oh, it's not my customer. With millennials and gen Z, they are over two thirds of them, are very concerned about these issues. And they're basing their buying decisions on it.

Stephen:

But also the profitability that in many ways, you can see your mission as a marketing strategy in some instance because it's going to make your brand more persuasive. So those are the common objections that come in. We're definitely focused on making money, having profitable businesses. We know we have to make money, support our employees. It fits in nicely right now.

Brett:

Yeah, it does, it does. Things have converged to make this a good business strategy as well as the right thing to do. Talk a little bit about who is the conscious consumer and how is eCommerce kind of evolving as a result of that?

Stephen:

It tends to be a younger consumer that in the gen Z and millennial populations but even beyond that. It's just people that, they see their wallet as kind of a, as a way to project on the world that they want. When they put those hard earned dollars and they're going to buy a product, I think also because it's easier to make products these days and the consumer has more choices. So they don't have only five brands to choose from, they have 100. They can be picky, and with that conscious consumer, it's fascinating because commerce is tribal. I don't think when I'm talking about the conscious consumer, this is not everybody, but there is a customer out there where convenience is not the god. This is talking from someone who used to do one hour delivery, but it's not the end all be all for it.

Stephen:

So these are people that, even with Amazon or other companies, when they get a package in the mail, or let's just say they buy a small electronic chip and it comes in a giant package, big turnoff, or they see waste. But I think also, another way that explains it is secondhand retail is exploding right now. It is actually projected to rise higher than fast fashion, and that's because people see the utility of, I can buy something that's already been used. I can get it at a great price point, it's discounting 2.0. That's the framework that the conscious consumer sees things a little bit differently.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. It's quite a shift from, I'm a child of the 80s, born in the 80s, grew up. It's kind of a shift, like that was all just about consumption and enjoying things and really was not much thought given to waste or sustainability or efficiency or any of those things. I'm glad the narrative has shifted for sure.

Brett:

Let's talk a little bit about brand positioning. So an eCommerce company focused on all the things that an eCommerce company has to focus on, building a great product, responding to reviews and customer feedback, making that product better, working on marketing, trying to manage their P&L, all these difficult things that's sort of challenging to make a business work. How does someone make that transition from maybe, maybe they want to be mission-driven but they just weren't in the beginning. They just focused on their products in the beginning. How do they make that transition? Does it, can it be gradual? Does it have to go all in? Like what, what does that look like and how does that impact brand position?

Stephen:

Got it. So you don't have to go zero to 60 miles an hour. I think it's really having an authentic and transparent voice about what your company cares about. It can even involve serve, I think it does involve surveying the audience to see also what they care about. But let's take the example of Everlane. Everlane did not start really as an environmentally conscious brand. They started as a brand that was about transparency and saying, we're going to cut out the middle man but we're also going to tell you about the factory where it comes from.

Stephen:

So, I think that the progress can definitely be gradual. And I think even brands that are in this space, they're not going to create a clothing product that has zero impact. They're working with the materials they have, build it and looking at the options and picking gradually what is feasible. Like the brand Allbirds which is the New Zealand sneaker brand, I think one of the founders, I heard him talking about how they know of a material that could be much better, but financially, it's not viable right now. They would lose a ton of money by doing it that way. It can be a gradual transition. But really it's focusing on what are those one, what are those couple of things that you think makes sense and can be your stamp?

Brett:

Yup. Love it. So you talk about being authentic and people, especially millennial and gen Z, but I think all people to a certain degree have a good BS detector. What is greenwashing and why is that something that you should probably avoid?

Stephen:

Yeah, so greenwashing is when, let's see, I'll tell you a quick story for my, during the holidays, my partner, she's vegan and we went and, I told my mom, I'm like, can we get some vegan butter? And she was so nice and she went out to the store and she found a product that was vegan butter. And we knew it because it had this smiley face and it said, "It's vegan." But then I look at the ingredients and some of the ingredients were like, it had a couple of oils in it that really were not environmentally friendly. In that case, like with that company, they might not have intentionally have done that, but my response right now as a consumer was poor, was negative because I felt like they were promoting themselves one way and then they were doing something else.

Stephen:

But greenwashing also is, you got to be careful of how you name drop because when you're using terms like sustainable or ethical, there should be some thought behind it. It's not a copywriter shop, it's the leadership of the company. And finding verified products that, that's what a lot of companies do where they'll, instead of saying I'll do this, they will find a third party to verify the claim and then they'll use, they'll put that trust deal on the product page or something to reinforce it. But that's the thing about, it's just that, I think with greenwashing, it's just about being sincere about that approach, not using it for marketing because it's that bullshit detector, people are very wary of it.

Brett:

They are. It's interesting, we talked about how you can serve people and you can serve different communities and you can be mission-driven and that can lead to increased profits. But if you're only doing it for marketing reasons, if you're just saying, yeah, let's just stamp green on things or say it's sustainability, just for the marketing growth, people usually sniff that out, and that will typically have the opposite effect. If this is not something that's going to have some sincerity behind it and if you're not going to be transparent about some things, then you probably should just avoid it because being seen as insincere is potentially worse. Greenwashing probably not a good thing.

Brett:

Let's talk a little bit about the mission-driven marketing playbook. What does that look like and how does someone kind of use mission in their marketing?

Stephen:

Gotcha. I really think that mission is, it's just an extension of brand. It's just a way to talk, it's a way that, you take your core story and you determine what benefit you're providing to the world and you put, so it really starts with that I guess mission statement or however we want to say because that's a message that can go everywhere, your marketing, all your touch points. It's figuring out where it ties in and then, okay, so where this becomes the playbook is now we focus on all the marketing touch points where the mission can be communicated. So the website.

Stephen:

What I'm seeing now on the website is about us is becoming a larger section. People are not just saying, they're not just putting two paragraphs and a picture of a couple of employees. They're using cause to show stories. The home page, a lot of companies, if they're doing something mission-driven, they will mention it or mention just this is what we're about because you're buying our products, we want to tell you a story about us. And so, mission is used as a way to humanize the people behind the company because we're all told that, I think we've all heard a thousand times, especially our listeners, it's all about storytelling, you have to tell stories about the brand. And mission gives you the opportunity to say something without having to say buy this, buy now, hurry up because that's something that also people are getting a little cautious on.

Stephen:

But going back to that playbook, so the website, the areas to think about are your home page. I think product pages, there is potential where you can put trust badges below that buy button in some instances to say if there's something that differentiates your product, whether it's mission-driven or not, trust seals can really work well. But this gives you something else to talk about. Let's just say the product is cruelty-free if it's in beauty.

Brett:

You can talk about maybe even creating icons or badges that say things like cruelty-free or sustainable or something like that. So creating those-

Stephen:

Yeah, like Pura Vida bracelets is another example. They have something on their product page that says our cause. It's not the only thing but it's just, it's in your toolbox. Mission is just one of the things that's in your toolbox that you can talk about. So I guess for the website, that's one element. Then with email marketing and with email, people don't talk about mission all the time, but I noticed with brands like typically on maybe a monthly cadence, they will offer, they will have a more focused, non-promotional mission perspective. An example of Everlane is on Black Friday, that day, they were promoting one of their environmental initiatives and saying give to this fund instead of shopping with us on Black Friday. There were other days I'm sure that they were getting a lot of business so it's not like they said the whole holiday season is awash.

Brett:

Save your money this holiday season. Don't shop here. Yeah. They weren't doing that.

Stephen:

So for email, I think in your, you find a way with mission to, you add it to your lexicon where now Everlane, you'll see more on their products, they're mentioning the word sustainable or ethical. And that's what they regularly post. So they're not telling an entire story about mission but they're planting the seed by certain words that they're using consistently. And then you go into with PR, I think when the leaders of the company are talking, they're going to talk about the mission of the company as well and promote it whatever media they're using. And then I guess social media is also the content that you're using that's related to, it just gives you, it's just another story that you can tell besides something that's entirely product focused.

Brett:

Yeah. I love this and I think it's important to underscore, you still have to have a good value proposition. Why does this product exist? What problem is it solving? Why is it desirable? Why is it useful? In the case of Everlane, why would females in their demographic choose their leggings over other leggings and stuff like that. Their positioning is they're comfortable and they're amazing. They're really durable and whatnot. But they're also sustainable and they're ethically sourced and manufactured and things like that.

Brett:

And so, tying that all together I think is a really beautiful thing. And you're right, it does give you in social and email and other marketing channels the ability to communicate more than just a buy now message, which I'm a marketer, I don't mind buy now. But having something else to say there, like hey, we're about more than just making a dollar, we're trying to change your life with the product and then other's lives as well and create a legacy and things like that. So, really good.

Brett:

How else is this impacting the marketing playbook and storytelling and things like that? Any other thoughts there?

Stephen:

I think it's just, marketing is always about, marketing is mind warfare. It's so psychological. And with mission, what you're giving is you're giving people just an emotional reason to support you. I think with brand it's like, yeah, you have those five brand differentiators where it's like, it's price, then, you know, it could be price. The it product, it's the cool factor. Like you were saying, it solves a problem. And then we get into these other ones like planet or helps people. And those are tools that, this is slightly ahead of trend I think because not as many companies are using it. And when you say, hey, there's a whole other reason to buy our product besides just the great value of the product, it's that, because right now the modern marketing template that I'm seeing just from clients and elsewhere is it's strong product positioning, really getting into that product, and then mission-driven branding, giving extra values to it.

Stephen:

I think another thing that a lot of brands can utilize is where this product came from, where this product is made because it really ties into everything. People want to see that. It could tie into your cause, it doesn't even have to tie into your cause. But you're just showing, here's the factory where this is made. A series that Everlane did that was very, I'm not sure if they're still running it, but it was very popular, very effective, was called #TransparencyTuesdays, TransparencyTuesdays or Thursdays, I forgot which one. But they would have someone in the office walking around the different departments and people would send questions and they would answer them.

Stephen:

They were really bringing the face of the company out, and I think that's, mission is really just an extension of humanizing your brand and making these company, making these people from the company feel like they're in your living room and they're a part of you.

Brett:

Let's dive into some examples because I think that's the best way we learn, this kind of comes to life and triggers ideas as people are listening to this. So, lots of great examples from Everlane, I love that. What are some other companies, and certainly you can mention more about Everlane too, but what are some other companies that are getting this right, and what are they getting right? What are they doing that's really tying this all together, mission and branding and just bringing them all home?

Stephen:

I think Allbirds is getting it right. They are doing, because they're combining a few different messages. They're telling this romantic story of New Zealand well, which was something that was never used in sneakers before. Then they're going after comfort, where they're getting , this is the world's most comfortable shoe.

Brett:

Most comfortable shoes you ever worn, world's most comfortable shoes. I have several friends, I've never worn Allbirds, but several friends that just swear by it that they're amazing.

Stephen:

Then you have the sustainability angle where they're talking about the materials that they're using and how different they are. It's really strong product marketing there.

Stephen:

Another example that's more recent is an underwear company called yourparade.com. They are really using the mission-driven playbook because they are, they're offering underwear at a cheap price point. They are giving to, they're being size-inclusive. So they're talking about how many sizes they offer. They are donating to female-based charities and highlighting their founder is a woman. They're making from recycled materials. They've hit the flush on ... In addition to their branding is very bright and happy.

Stephen:

And that reminds me of another company called Madhappy, madhappy.com, they are basics clothing and their cause is mental health. And they're using mental health as just an overall marketing, branding, quirky topic. As we know, it's very top of mind, but they also do, they do popups and they sponsor meditations. So that's a way that they are, as well as making cool clothing that you can immediately recognize on the street. So they have this stitch that from a far, you could tell it's a Madhappy product. So that's a couple more of them.

Brett:

Really interesting. I want to maybe underscore something. And I'm seeing this more with brands, you mentioned Parade and inclusivity with their models and their marketing and even on their product detail pages. I'm seeing this with other brands as well. Everlane does this some. There's another underwear company that I think gets marketing right and a lot of details right and that's .. But they do a pretty good job of not every model is like this chiseled Greek god on the male side, or on the female side, it's not the typical supermodel that only half a percent of the population can identify with. It's real people. They're usually smiling and vibrant, and I don't know, I think that's a really good trend. Like to me, as I look at product, I'm like, okay, well that would probably look good on me. That's a normal looking dude rather than a bodybuilder or something.

Brett:

Do you see that as kind of an extension of mission or it all kind of ties together? Any thoughts on inclusivity with your marketing?

Stephen:

Yes, because it's a cause. I think inclusivity is, like I mean, we could say LGBT is a mission too. I think they all, there's a higher purpose to it. I think it's important to be, with these terms, and the reason why I'm pausing a little bit is, I think that's where the sincerity and authenticity goes in because it's not just about, these things can be used for good and bad. Like we were saying, in time, the customer can sniff it out. But I would say inclusivity is because is a mission of sorts in the sense that you're not giving to charity but you're highlighting the values that you want in a society at large. You're presenting your company as this is how I want the world to be. I don't want it to just be skinny stick figures, I want there to be people like me who are presented as beautiful.

Brett:

Yes. Very powerful. Very powerful for sure. As we kind of wrap up, I want to underscore something. I think it's, this was hopefully inspirational for people, saying, okay, there's a mission that I'm passionate about, that our company is passionate about, that we think our audience is passionate about and so we're going to advance that.

Brett:

I remember, one of my favorite business books and favorite books of all time is Good to Great by Jim Collins. It's one that's quoted all the time. One thing that was kind of interesting that they brought up was one of the values or one of the things that the great companies, the companies that made the transition from good to great, one of the things they had in common was that they were value-driven. But one thing that was not common was what those values were. They even talked about, and I almost hate to bring it up, but I think it underscores the idea of Phillip Morris, it's cigarettes and really unhealthy food. But their value was, we just want to enjoy taste, we just want to enjoy things. But the whole company rallied around that and that actually helped sustain some of their growth.

Brett:

I think it's important to underscore that as you identify something, this is meaningful to me and to our team, there's probably a market that's going to say, yeah, that's meaningful to me as well. It's an environmental issue or it's a kid poverty issue or it's fighting hunger or it's mental health. It doesn't matter specifically what you pick, just that you pick something that it is authentic, that you are transparent about it. And then it does tie in with your brand messaging. Would you agree with that, that it's not as important-

Stephen:

Yeah. As they say, the riches are in the niches. Society is very tribal. And people have, even with causes, people have things that they're, people aren't passionate about every cause, but they're passionate about certain ones. So, once you have something that ties in, you can definitely feed into the passion of that audience. And also, with brands, it's not just about getting buyers, but it's also about getting fans, getting community. That's how you build that social proof by having a large community that, and once they agree with you on that value, they're in. Even if they're not buying your product, they've already hit that first step.

Brett:

That's awesome. Yup, yup, really good. Well Steve, this has been great. Let's talk maybe just quickly about some resources, ways people can connect with you more and hear more about this topic and others that tie into eCommerce strategy. You've got a podcast, so why don't you talk about the podcast real quick and then let's talk about-

Stephen:

I appreciate that.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Stephen:

The Needle Movement Podcast is, for me, I have heard the term move the needle a million times. It's just about how businesses can, I work in digital strategy and it's how they can efficiently navigate this complicated world of digital marketing to move things forward. So we get into a lot of different topics. It's not entirely eCommerce. Like recently I did an episode on mental health. It's really just tying into the challenges that emerging business leaders have and how we can help support them and also have a little bit of fun at the same time. So that is the Needle Movement Podcast.

Stephen:

In terms of the resources, or I guess I should just mention, with Needle Movement, some people call it, I essentially call it a second brain to companies where companies are really overwhelmed, and they often don't have time to see what the most important emerging trends and the best way to make profit is. I love email marketing for example for that reason. But Needle Movement, whether you could call it a coach, a virtual CMO, a digital strategist, doesn't matter, but it;s to be that hotline, to be that second brain to businesses.

Stephen:

For the resources, in the show notes, we can go through a lot of examples, so that, I think the most powerful thing is to look at these websites and follow them and see what they're doing.

Brett:

Agreed. Get on their email list. Check out their site so that they'll remarket to you. Get on their email list, check out social media. Watch their marketing and their messaging.

Stephen:

We'll share a cool tip with the audience. There's a website called milled.com, and on that website, you can follow all of the brand's emails. So instead of, so you can subscribe as well and see how it looks in your inbox, but you could also quickly search and say, hey, what are all the emails that Everlane put out in the past?

Brett:

That's a great resource. Because I always find, I teach and encourage people, hey, go get on email list because you're going to learn a lot. And I do the same myself. And then I'm like, holy crap, I've got so many emails coming in, this is unbelievable. I'm on milled.com right now, look at this, you got Nasty Gal there, you got Rue La La, all kinds of stuff. And you look at their emails. That's a great resource, that's fantastic.

Stephen:

We'll also include the brands that were mentioned. If you look at five or six of them, it's going to be like that game, what is it called, Product Hunt, where you just spot where people are mentioning mission on the page or you spot what's different about the image and you can see it pretty quickly, and even going through, yeah, going through their touch points as well.

Brett:

And you've got a link to the email, or the Everlane email blast where they're talking about mission and supporting a cause rather than just shopping, and so we'll link to that as well. So it'll be great.

Stephen:

And to reach out to me directly, go to hello@needlemovement.com. And I look at all of those emails and answer them.

Brett:

Awesome. Fantastic. Stephen, thanks for taking the time, man. This was really fun. This was a really important topic. I think this is a topic that's going to be relevant for some time to come for the foreseeable future, and it's something that all eCommerce companies should be thinking about and strategizing about and watching and learning from. So, really appreciate you taking the time. And yeah, go check out needlemovement.com, go check out that podcast.

Stephen:

Thanks again for having me and for sharing this topic of mission right now.

Brett:

Absolutely. Glad to do it. And with that, we'd love to get that five star review from all of our listeners, if you feel so inclined, we'd also like your feedback, what would you like to hear more of? Give us topic suggestions, suggestions for guests. We're always open to that as well. And so, with that, until next time, thank you for listening.




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