Leveraging Data Insights

Episode 970: Leveraging Data Insights, with Jonathan Silver

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Leveraging data insights, an insightful discussion with Jonathan Silver. Learn how to navigate through a crisis by leveraging data insights.

Leveraging data insights can help pivot your business if you know how to utilize them. Our expert today, Jonathan Silver, will guide us through how he implemented them in his business and gave himself an advantage over his competitors. 

Jonathan Silver is Founder and CEO of Affinity Solutions. Affinity is the authoritative source of truth for news outlets, not-for-profits, research firms, and businesses in the US and the only source for purchase insights that can be analyzed by demographic, geographic, lifestyle segment, and political affiliation. Jonathan’s vision is to transform data insights into experiences that improve people’s lives.


What you will learn from this episode on leveraging data insights:

  • Jonathan’s background and his journey into entrepreneurship with Affinity
  • How privacy is respected, maintained, and never breached during the data collection process
  • Why access to data plays such a profound role in a company’s ability to navigate crises
  • How Jonathan was able to pivot his business by leveraging data insights as the solution
  • The licensing/subscription model Jonathan created for Affinity Solutions
  • The skills we need on our team and in our business to make the right decisions using data insights
  • Why leveraging data insights and solutions and then bringing them to your clients will drastically separate you from your competitors
  • How mentorship has paid Jonathan dividends to this day


Additional Resources:




Leveraging Data Insights: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success and in leveraging data insights from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation. Where I interview today’s top business owners so we can learn their recipe for success. How they built and how they scaled their business. In fact, my team at Predictive ROI, you know, we talk about this consistently because we’ve been rebuilding and scaling our free resources section on PredictiveROI.com.


In fact, we have turned it into a resources library so that you can download free practical and tactical guides for how to build your own authority sales machine. Everything you need to create your ideal client avatar, how to build out a value ladder, a sales funnel, and how to make sure your content strategy aligns with the ten truths to what makes someone an authority within their niche.


So just go to PredictiveROI.com/resources. And as always Onward Nation everything request. It’s free and we’ll send it right to your inbox. Okay Onward Nation, let’s get set for today’s very special guest. Since Covid began, we’ve been talking about strategies that you can use to market your way through the crisis. And then even more importantly, instead of just marketing your way through the crisis, can you put yourself in the right position in order to come roaring out the other side?


Yes, you absolutely can, because there are silver linings to the challenges that we’re all experiencing right now. Granted, albeit it may take us longer to see them. And we’ve talked about that because here’s the reality Onward Nation the times of strife, in the challenges, the things we are living through right now. They have the potential to push your clients away.


Or when you navigate through the choppy waters correctly, impatiently, you open yourself up to the opportunity. You open yourself up to the silver linings of bringing your clients closer to you than ever before, potentially in leveraging data insights can help us do that, and that’s what we’re going to talk through today with our guest, Jonathan Silver. Jonathan is the founder and CEO of Affinity Solutions. Affinity provides news outlets, nonprofits, research firms and businesses just like yours and mine with purchase insights that can be analyzed by demographic, geographic, lifestyle segments, and even political affiliation.


So Onward Nation, this is the type of conversation like strategic as well as tactical. This conversation with Jonathan is going to be an interesting dive into those opportunities, into the silver linings, so that you can come roaring out the other side of this crisis. So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Jonathan. Hey, thank you for having me, Steve.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: Jonathan Silver’s Introduction


Very much appreciated. I look forward to our discussion. I’m looking forward to our discussion, too. And, Jonathan, thanks for saying yes. And just a a quick shout out and thank you to, Billy Howard in case she happens to be listening for making this wonderful introduction so that we can have this conversation. And, Jonathan, before we dive into what I’m sure is going to feel like a litany of questions that are going to be firing, your way, actually take us behind the curtain here and, and give us a little bit more context around your path, your journey, in some of Affinity and so give us some more context around that, and then we’ll dive in. 


Sure. Happy to. So, my background, I came out of, Wharton. I went to, University of Pennsylvania Engineering School. I worked at McKinsey. And after all that, and going to Harvard Business School for ten days and quitting, I decided that all that education, was, leading me down the path of entrepreneurship.


I didn’t want to work for him. And I started to, get enamored with businesses that, involve data. I  enjoyed the fact that data can predict, with unbelievable accuracy. If you do something in marketing a certain way to a certain audience in a certain fashion, you can predict that that will recur over and over again.


And so I started the journey for Affinity Solutions, by coming up with a new kind of loyalty model for financial institutions. That issue debit and credit cards and that model was basically rewarding, cardholders, customers of the bank when they shopped at particular retailers. But in putting that system together where we would, deliver an offer from Home Depot to a Capital One cardholder. If you use your card at Home Depot, you’ll get 10% back or points or miles.


In doing that, it gave us access to all the bank’s data, and we did that over and over and over again. And 3000 banks later, we ended up with every single day coming into Affinity Solutions, every transaction that occurred on all the cards of each bank that we work with. So that we can run that program, that we can determine who’s shopping at what retailers.


But so we can also put together valuable insights for the participating retailers and the banks. that was a core element of what we were doing from day one. Then one day about 4 or 5 years ago, when we were working with all these retailers to provide these offers to our bank customers, many of them were saying, hey, can you let us use this?


Is there a way to use this data beyond just, you know, delivering offers into these programs that you’re running for all these banks, delivering, you know, targeted offers to someone who might be interested or not in a Walgreens offer. Is there any way you could use it to help us make better decisions on where to open stores?


Use it to make better decisions on how to allocate our capital between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. invest in Chicago versus Boston because leveraging data insights is so valuable. And giving, the outside in view of what customers are doing outside the retailer’s own stores. And so we started on a second journey, kind of a second evolution of Affinity Solutions, where we went back to our banks, got them to agree to give us rights of use to create all kinds of insights and marketing solutions that help companies build deeper relationships with consumers to identify insights in our data so McDonald’s might see, oh my goodness, I’m losing, market share to Burger King among millennials in Chicago, LA and New York. 


That’s really interesting. What do I do about that? And then an affinity. Can you help us target, without violating any privacy rules? Can you identify people who are likely going to Burger King and they happen to be millennials in those three cities?


And can you help us market to them and fix that problem or exploit an opportunity? So the journey led us down the path of, leveraging data insights, using this very unique data asset that nobody else has, the purchase behavior, 90 million consumers in the US and 10 million in the United Kingdom to help companies figure things out, develop insights, build relationships.


And underneath all that, to use data, to improve people’s lives, which I can explain a little bit later, but it’s in that journey. It started with a very strong interest in data. First, it started with an interest in starting my own business. Then it started with an interest in data. Then it started, with the opportunity to work with financial situations around this new model.


And then it led to the opportunity to leverage this incredibly valuable repository of purchase information to solve a number of problems for today’s retailers and marketers. 


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Privacy Concerns


Wow. Okay. So there’s a lot to unpack in there. But first, let’s talk about one of the things that you just touched on. And I just want to sort of set this as part of the foundation.


You said without violating any privacy rules. Okay. So tell us more about that in how privacy is respected maintained, never breached because obviously that there’s been a lot of headlines around data breaches and so forth. And I’m certainly not saying that, trying to connect that with with Affinity at all. But let’s talk about some privacy concerns just to make sure that is a solid foundation right there.


Yeah. I’m glad you asked. So from day one, we have anchored any use of data on consumer permission. From day one. the reason why the purchase behavior data is so important to us is that it comes from consumer participation and the loyalty programs that I mentioned. That’s the origin of the data the consumer has opted in.


So that’s one piece of the puzzle. The other is, that in opting in for the use of data, they get value back. So when we generate any kind of value in the marketplace from, you know, helping retailers do better marketing, help them get more insights, that revenue is shared back to the consumers in the loyalty program.


So there’s always value back. The bigger picture, though, is, you know, we have a vision, where the world is going to become much more about hyper personalization and, you know, really delivering tailored solutions to consumers. Whether it’s, you know, the products and services they need at any given moment in time, walking into stores and having, you know, you know, welcoming Steve, recommending products and services that are of interest to you.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: Getting A Personalized Experience


Steve, I tell a story, that the CEO of Delta Airlines, gave a keynote at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas in January before the world changed. And he talked about this new technology that we’re introducing in two airports, Detroit and LAX, where you and I, Steve and Jonathan, can be standing in front of the same billboard.


You see flight information only related to you. What time you have to be at the gate, restaurants nearby that match your food preferences. I look at the same billboard and I see things that only relate to Jonathan Silver. Me? Neither of us see anything related to the other. We’re not wearing special glasses. Don’t ask me how it works. But that experience where each of us is having an incredibly personalized experience in an airport, while travel is kind of on pause these days, is going to be the kinds of experiences you’re going to see in physical stores.


And so using data, you know, think of it as a next generation app store. You’re going to be approached. Many people will be approached by their friends. You got to check out this app. you’ve got to opt in and you’ll walk into Home Depot and they’ll welcome you by name. Those kinds of applications, all of them will be consumers opting in.


We think they’ll have their own personal data cloud that will contain all of their data. Not just the purchase information that they’ll permission or provision out to different applications. And so we are all about anchoring every use of data on the permission from the end customer. That’s staggering. Like when you were describing that, I had, like this flashback to that movie Minority Report and I’m like, oh my gosh, seriously, that’s like within reason to be able to do something like that.


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Revamping A Company’s Business Model


It’s unbelievable that that’s even possible to do. We’d love to know how they do that. But I’ll tell you offline. But, you know, you have to sign a nondisclosure agreement. I don’t doubt it. Okay. So let’s kind of go macro here for a second and high level. If you want to call it philosophical, like when I go to your website, I seethis line, which I find fascinating.


I agree with it. I like to be able to slice this apart for our listeners, too, because I think there’s some really cool layers here in on relation reads like this. Crises are a double edged sword. Times of strife have the potential to push customers away, yet if handled correctly, they pose the opportunity to bring them closer than ever.


So, Jonathan, give us an overview at a macro level. Like, why do you believe that to be true? Well, what’s really interesting for us is our data, in the aggregate, has become the go-to for scientists, academics, researchers, government agencies that are trying to determine policy. What I’ve been astounded by is how little information is available to companies to make better decisions.


And that gap, has become particularly pronounced during the coronavirus. and what I’m seeing is those companies that have access to the right insights to make the right decisions will come out much stronger on the other end. And you know what? What we’re noticing at the macro level is the companies that are doing better because we see this every day.


We get yesterday’s purchase activity today so we can see it near real-time, the companies that are succeeding, are showing a much greater degree of empathy with what the consumer is going through, genuine empathy and the ability to personalize experiences to align with this changing reality. So an example, you know, in the QSR category, the quick service restaurant, you know, Domino’s, Papa John’s, or examples of companies that have completely revamped not just their marketing messaging but the entire enterprise.


I mean, they always had home delivery, but they changed their entire delivery system so that it’s contactless. You know, no human hands touch the pizza. In the case of Domino’s, it’s delivered, you know, on a, they call it a thrown, you know, it’s a recyclable, you know, stand that the pizza sits on. And then that can be taken back by the delivery person and discarded.


You can have the pizza delivered to the front door, the side or the back door. So it’s an example of companies that have revamped their business model, not just the messaging, you know, the but their entire, customer experience and their delivery system to align with changing customer needs. That’s an example of, you know, you can do things that deepen your relationship in a time of strife.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: Market Your Way Through the Crisis


You come out stronger at the other end, or you can, show tone deafness and, lose that and start to erode that relationship. And just looking at it from Affinity Solutions’ perspective, you know, our business is doing extremely well. You know, we are hiring. We’re adding more people. When we did, we never laid anybody off.


I never furlough anyone and our business is growing and more profitable than ever. And I tell my board and I tell my, you know, executive team that this is an opportunity for effective solutions to come out much stronger at the other end of this. I really believe that crisis, you know, brings out, behaviors and approaches that you wouldn’t otherwise do where you’re not faced with this crisis.


So we see it at our level and we see it in the marketplace. This is fascinating because this sinks in so well with some of the research that we’ve been sharing in past episodes and Onward, you know, we’ve been talking about the, you know, not only how to market your way through the crisis. And then, as Jonathan is talking about, come roaring out the other side, come out stronger on the other side.


You know, when we looked at, when we curated, you know, there’s 400 pages of research across all of those studies. It looked at what made the companies, you know, what put the companies in the best possible position over the last six recessions? They did exactly what Jonathan was talking about. They made progressive decisions. They invested in the right R&D.


They invested in the right marketing. And then they came out the other side stronger than ever. The data is on your side. And Jonathan just laid that out for you as well. That is awesome, Jonathan. And it is no surprise that you guys are feeling it in your business, too, because you’re directly aligned with that, 100%.


And I’m assuming a lot of the audience that works with clients. So whether, you know, they’re an agency or a professional services firm or other type of company, the one thing that we’ve learned even more so during this crisis that I would if I was humbly giving advice, is to, you know, bring their your customers under the tent.


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Get Your Customers Involved


In a B2B scenario like ours, like many of the listeners, of Onward Nation, bringing the customer under the tent, they will help you. Right? It’s, you know, I think at once upon a time, I guess I was too young in my career to appreciate that it’s okay to tell customers, you know, you need their help.


You want to get their involvement in building out a solution, a product, or, you know, an approach to addressing them and kind of bringing them under the tent, having an open dialog. And, you know, in a product-centric business, which is what we are, we’re not an agency. We build products that help other professional services firms serve their customers.


It’s critical. It has been critical for us to bring our customers on the under the tent. Help us design solutions like beyond our insights. We have products that act on those insights. We call it insights to action, where if in that example of McDonald’s, seeing that the losing share to Burger King among millennials in these three cities, well, how do we solve for that?


Well, we can provide, you know, these propensity scores that can take every household in the US and score them on their likelihood of going into Burger King. And that happen to be millennials and that they can then be syndicated out through all of these Adtech Ecosystems. So that, the McDonald’s agency in this case, or McDonald’s directly can reach out to those people that are likely to be that particular customer segment.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: From Service-Oriented to Product-Driven


So, yeah, I’m a big believer in leveraging data insights, using customer insight that will drive you’ll see, you know, a year from now, the reordering, the reshuffling of the deck will be those companies that follow that those prescriptions. Love that. Let’s go back to when you mentioned the second journey and then that went back to or took you into, hey, we’ve got all these insights.


What does that lead to marketing solutions like how can, we’ve got this foundation of all of this data. How could that be helpful in moving the business forward, potentially in a different direction. So that tells me, okay, this is interesting. That was sort of like a crossroads for the business. Many of our listeners are in that right now.


And so tell us a little bit more about the second journey and how you decided. Yep. It’s right for us to, you know, quote unquote second journey, pivot, whatever you want to call it. My guess is that took a courageous decision to head down that path. So tell us a little bit more about that, because I think that’ll be encouraging for some of our listeners.


Yeah for sure. happy to do it. So, you know, it goes back to what we were just talking about a moment ago. We listened to customers and, as I was, you know, sharing a little earlier, you know, the retailers that we were serving in the first part of the journey. The retailers providing offers in our bank loyalty programs. We call them merchant funded, rewards programs.


They said, you know what? If we could get access have to your data to, you know, solve these other problems, and it’s that kind of dialog, you know. What are their pain points? What are the solutions? What, you know, in the vernacular of product management, what are the jobs that they need to get that they do every day that we could help them do better jobs in a sense of, you know, their job is to drive more marketing efficiency.


Their job is to understand their customer better, to build better customer experiences. For us, that the challenge in that second journey, Steve, was also we were in the first part of our journey really kind of like an agency. I mentioned today we’re very product-centric. But for the first part of our journey, we were, you know, basically customizing solutions for Bank X versus Bank Y.


We were, our DNA was to go into a client, ask questions, and then customize something for them in the bank world. And now we had a change. We had to go from, you know, kind of agency-ish, service-oriented to product-driven. Product-driven means we had to go back and talk to lots of clients, find a common denominator across, you know, most ideally all clients in a particular sector, and then build products that serve those needs as opposed to custom solutions.


The pay off, of course, is that we scale much faster. I mean, today, our business grew 55% last year versus 2018 this year on path to growing. Not quite as much because of the coronavirus, but we’re growing pretty fast. We have a 78% gross margin. So that’s the payoff. But the pain along the way was going from service-oriented to product-driven.


And it was really asking a lot of those questions to understand their needs just to bring it to a fine point. That is accelerating. So today we’re saying, well, wait a minute, we’ve got all this data or, you know, 90 million consumers in the US focusing on the, and the US for a moment.


We’ve got all this other data that we can link to our purchase data because of the matching ability. We call it our data. And we have technology, you know, toolsets around privacy management and consent. We have access to AI and machine learning tools instead of us building the final solution for retailers and agencies and others.


Why don’t we let others do that? And so we’re now building out this final, I’ll call it a third journey, which is our data platform, which basically, instead of us doing applications to help companies do better, personalization and targeting and measurement and insights. We’re opening it up to the world of other app developers and companies that can build applications on top of our data, all of which will be around helping their customers build deeper relationships.


Same mission, but just scaling it up by opening it up to many, hopefully many other companies. Okay. 


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Digging More into The Third Journey


So let me give that back to you or this last piece to make sure I’m tracking with you. So is third journey is that essentially, is it kind of a licensing model or is that something different than that like your focus then will be to collect the best data, the most robust data, and then essentially allow people to have access to it and so is that licensing as a subscription, like how would you describe that?


Yeah, I think that’s a great way of describing it. It’s licensing our platform. The business model will be subscription-based and, you know, allow people to try before they buy. But we’ve got it. What happened was, you know, when we listen to customers in approaching journey to the customers were the retailers.


The customers were the marketers. The customers were the agencies. Now we’re listening to a different set of companies who serve those same, and customers who are saying, but wait a minute, we have our own secret sauce. We have our own. We want to add to what you have Affinity. We’ve got other data you don’t have. We have location data.


We have skill level data. We want to add to your data. We want to add our technology. We want to add our own competencies. So we’re like, you know what? If we can help make the world a better place by helping, you know, more companies, accomplish their objectives and come out healthier and capture and retain market share, instead of us going to all the retailers and agencies in the world, why not power, many of these other companies.


So now we’re listening to a different set of customers. They’re the other technology firms, other agencies, other companies, that are looking to do the same thing. So, yes, it’s licensing, and the pricing models will be a combination of subscription and transaction-based. Oh. That’s awesome. Okay, thanks for taking this deeper into the second journey and then dipping into the third journey.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: Getting The Right Insights to Make the Right Decisions


That’s great context. We’d love to chat with you to get your perspective on skills that you think business owners and their teams, and as you know, our audience is typically comprised of agency owners, business coaches, consultants and so forth. We’d love to get your take on skills that the owner and their teams, need to master in order to thrive today.


But I want to ask you that question in the context of, okay, if it’s about getting the right insights so that we can make the right decisions. What are the skills driving that? Like, if we want to be able to make the right decisions, what are the skills, the skill sets we need to either have, like on the team within the business in order to make that happen?


Yeah. So, you know, a big part of our business is serving large professional services firms today. So Deloitte, Accenture, Bain, McKinsey, McKinsey, my former employer. We serve them with data platforms. And it’s interesting as those companies go through their journey and the advantage of smaller companies, agency owners and professional services firms that they can be so much more nimble.


And so what we’re seeing at the big agency level is, you know, one of them is ingesting our data every single week. We have a library of all kinds of pre-configured reports that they constantly add to their ingesting that and they’re building that in to a set of dashboards that are then made available to their customers who serve consumers.


Right. So it’s Affinity to, let’s say, Deloitte to a retailer like, McDonald’s, who obviously are looking for insights on their consumer customers. And so, here are these big, big firms that typically make money by charging on time and expense. Right. They charge per hour and they’re looking to pivot or expand to be able to add on business and on revenue that doesn’t always require a consultant or professional services firm to be in the room and to build in our labor.


And that is just a, you know, one point here, which is that if I were a smaller agency business, I would look to create tool sets to complement the, you know, incredible skills that your audience brings to their customers. So that even when you’re sleeping, there’s value that, you know, your customer can go into a dashboard, your customer, who might be a business serving local consumers in a particular town.


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Making Progressive Decisions Based on Data


There are tools today, dashboards that you could make available to your customers who serve those consumers that allow them to go in. See what those customers, those end-customers are doing outside their stores. Right. Let’s assume it’s an agency serving local retailers in a particular community. Those tools can be extremely valuable and can cement and deepen the agency, you know, the audience that’s listening, your relationships with your customers.


And so I think that’s one thing I would very much, you know, highlight is bring those tools into the service delivery model for your firm. The second, of course, is, you know, get to know your customers. There’s lots of thermographic data on the businesses that you’re looking to serve or that you’re serving today, just like a consumer.


Right? There’s a lot of information about what your customers are doing. Of course, you can have them tell you about their business. But there’s also a lot of data and insight at the business level. Thermographics that you can include and help you tailor your solutions to those business customers. This is fantastic because as we were talking about at the beginning of this conversation, there are silver linings.


And so if our listeners were to do those two things that you just mentioned when you described, the scenario around the dashboards and then the firmer graphic data, like if they were to then present that solution to a client, even in this crisis and challenging time, like this is how you can win. We can make progressive decisions based on this data.


It makes them unique and different. There are very few bringing those types of solutions to their clients. Right, 100%. And that will differentiate you, you know, well beyond your competitors and your peers. It’s like imagine, you know, a customer of yours a listener who happens to be a restaurant and you’ll hear a term share of stomach in that space.


You know, how much share of stomach do you have? How much are people going out today? Well, not a whole lot. But they’re ordering in a lot. And how much of my online or delivery, you know, purchases in the community in my capturing. Well, we, you know, as an example, can provide tools that can give that visibility to those restaurants.


And once they have that visibility, they can take action on it. And that’s where we talk about insights to action. It’s like, okay, well I could admire that problem I’m losing share to other restaurants. Or I can do something about it. And that’s where the action tools, the ability to, deploy marketing, treatments to people who may be eating at those other restaurants knowing that they’re partial. Let’s say, to a particular cuisine, you know, maybe you’ll tailor your creative differently to someone who might be more likely, you know, going to a particular cuisine to attract them to your restaurant, to highlight certain dishes that align with where you see that they’re eating. 


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: The Most Influential Lesson from A Mentor


So it’s incredible on the tools that are out there. And I would highly recommend, whether it’s, you know, coming to us and, you know, we would introduce the listeners to others in our ecosystem who have tools that are more specific to that. That agency’s customer base, or whether you go somewhere else.


We think that’s a critical success factor. And tasty. Got it. Okay. So let’s transition away from Affinity and, the progressive decisions you’ve been guiding us through. And let’s put a spotlight on you, or at least a lesson that you’ve learned. And what I mean by that is during this conversation, you’re giving us great mentorship.


You’re giving our listeners and me some great guidance, all of which we took and applied would help us move our business onward to the next level. That was awesome. So now I want to kind of change or sort of turn the table on you. And what I mean by that, Jonathan, is tell us about what you consider to be the most influential lesson that you learned from one of your mentors and how that lesson is still impacting you today. How that lesson is still paying dividends today and has helped make you the founder and the CEO that you are today.


Well, I will tell you that I’ve made, you know, some pretty important mistakes along the way. And if I said otherwise, you should listen to anything I just said or we’ll stay on in this discussion. Yeah. I mean, look, the biggest mistake that I made and the one that, you know, I constantly have to keep attention to is focus and vision, which you’re kind of related.


As soon as we started stepping back from, you know, the serving client versus serving client B. And we have a really cool data set. And how do we, as soon as we step back and said, well, what do we really trying to accomplish? Even beyond the mission of helping companies build deeper relationships with consumers and helping them retain and grow their market share. There was something else that really resonated for me.


And then ultimately with our company, which is leveraging data insights to improve people’s lives. And it sounds corny, but when we started anchoring on that idea, of course, you were talking about privacy issues earlier and concerns. And for us, you know, that’s paramount that consumers are fully engaged in this. But when we started thinking about that, you know, our vision goes well beyond commerce, right?


It goes to health, personalized health. It goes to education. I think in the next 5 or 10 years, you know, the educational system will make what we’re doing today look prehistoric. It’ll be much more personalized to children’s and young adults aptitudes, interests. and skill sets. I think data is the great equalizer.


It’ll bring us all together rather than wax on about that. My point is that when we attached ourselves to that vision, it created clarity that started to pervade everything that we do. Every decision that we started to make. And I want to say this was years ago was really more like in the last couple of years, it started to help us filter out things that we shouldn’t do.


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: The Portfolio Approach


And then that leads to the next level, which is focus. We, you know, one of our biggest mistakes was we acquired a company about five years ago that was serving, you know, a very different customer set. It was serving small businesses directly. We didn’t have the competencies around that. We rationalized that we could use a lot of our core technologies to serve them, and it just diluted our focus.


And, that was one example that, you know, could have derailed us. We recovered and everything obviously is working out well. But it’s that constant vigilance around what is it that we’re trying to accomplish. Because really smart people, people that are creative, they’re going to want to do 3 or 4 things at once. It’s going to be counter-intuitive to actually, you know, grab your hand and pull it back, slap your wrist when you try to reach out to that next opportunity.


Because the notion of a portfolio approach. Let me try six or seven things because of thing two and three don’t work. Maybe things four and five will is completely self-defeating. Because what will happen is none of them will be successful. So you’ve got to make your bets. You’ve got to make your bet attached to a larger vision in my view.


And that’s the most single most important lesson that I’ve learned in this journey. That is great. I love how you address the portfolio approach and then talking about how it’s self-defeating because, as you know, as crazy entrepreneurs, we like to have so many irons in the fire and the the disciplined approach. I think you said that constant vigilance around what you’re trying to accomplish takes discipline.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions


Leveraging Data Insights: Easy To Say but Difficult to Do


It also takes kind of a steady hand if you well, great leadership. That’s awesome. Not easy. Well, or is it? It’s one of those things that maybe fits in the category of it’s pretty simple. But it’s not easy. Right? Extremely difficult to do. Easy to say and look, I’m an entrepreneur or as obviously, and I’m a creator and I’m constantly thinking of things.


And then I have to say, does it filter it out? Nine out of ten ideas? I mean, on a personal level, I will also say, if I look back over the years, you know, this notion and, you know, simple idea. But the idea of mutuality, you know, mutual when whether it’s you and a business associate, Whether it’s you and an employee, you and a customer or you and an investor, you know, that’s another critical piece because nothing is sustainable unless all parties win.


You can take advantage of someone once or twice, but it’ll never be sustainable. So I just want to add that too. It’s something I, you know, we all are on personal journeys in addition to our custom, company journeys. And I had to throw that in as well. Great conversation. This has been so on point with how to navigate through the choppy waters of the crisis and then come roaring out the other side because we paid attention to the silver linings that were present. Albeit it might be a little bit harder to see the relation, but they are there if we dig through the data.


And Jonathan just gave you a number of golden nuggets on how to do it, where to look, and so forth. 


Listen to how Carey Weston is also leveraging data insights as part of his business strategy


Leveraging Data Insights: Getting In Touch with Jonathan


Awesome. Jonathan, I know we covered a lot, but before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, any final advice, any final recommendations, anything you think we might have missed? And then please do tell Onward Nation, business owners, the best way to connect with you.


Yeah, I think we covered a lot and, you know, I might just reinforce a couple of points. But for sure, if anyone would like to contact me, Jonathan Silver and that, best would be to come to our website, Affinity.Solutions and reach out. And I’d be happy to reach out to you personally and chat.


Yeah. I mean, look, I think, you know, it’s always easy looking backward, rearview mirror. It’s always easy to 20/20 vision. But I really think in this environment, in this crisis, it’s all about leveraging data insights. It’s all about insights, to align your customers needs, talk to your customers more than you ever have.


Call them regularly, find out what their pain points are, and try, to, you know, add tools to your toolbox that you can provide them that doesn’t require you to always be the one delivering the service. Whether it’s a dashboard kind of product, like I mentioned, where they can turn it on, look to see what’s going on in their, within their customer domain.


And then, you know, be able to quote-unquote, push a button and, make decisions to, you know, take advantage of opportunities or to solve problems that that insight reveals to them. You will be much more valuable to your customers. And just, you know, stay true to the vision, build focus around that vision and you will be very successful, awesome.


And Onward, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and relisten to Jonathan’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do. The key is to take the golden nuggets that he so generously shared with you. Take them and apply them into your business right away and accelerate your results. And Jonathan, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day.


And I am grateful that you said yes to the show. Give us your great mentorship, insights, and advice to help us move our businesses onward to that next level. Thank you so much, my friend. Well, it’s my pleasure to spend 2,830 four minutes with you. 


And so this episode is complete. So head over to OnwardNation.com for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation.


Read more about leveraging data insights in retail from this blog of Affinity Solutions

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Sell with Authority Podcast

The Sell with Authority Podcast is for agency owners, business coaches, and strategic consultants who are looking to grow a thriving, profitable business that can weather the constant change that seems to be our world’s reality.

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