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Jan Kestle is the President of Environics Analytics, a marketing and analytical services company that produces data products and software. Specializing in proprietary data, purpose-built software, and industry-focused consulting, Environics Analytics provides data-driven analytics to help organizations of all sizes better understand customers and markets.

Jan has been a leader in the marketing information industry for over fifty years, helping customers turn data and analytics into insight, strategy, and engagement. She is an expert in using statistics and mathematics to help solve business challenges. Active in the marketing community, Jan was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Marketing Association and the GIS Leadership Award from BeSpatial Ontario.


tune in

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [02:46] Jan Kestle talks about her professional background in data and statistics
  • [06:52] The genesis of Environics Analytics and what it does
  • [08:49] Using data, statistics, and software to solve business problems
  • [15:03] Who are the ideal clients for Environics Analytics? 
  • [20:27] Jan explains how to use data to understand customer segments and improve marketing efforts
  • [25:38] How Jan assembled a dream team for a data analytics startup
  • [31:53] Sales strategies for complex products, with a focus on building relationships and understanding customer needs
  • [35:49] Environics Analytics customer success stories

In this episode…

The contemporary business landscape is often characterized by an ever-growing dependence on data to succeed. However, discerning the proper data and sources, analyzing, and implementing it can pose significant challenges.

Jan Kestle, an expert in utilizing statistics and mathematics to help solve business problems, says it’s no longer enough to make decisions based on intuition or guesswork. By leveraging data-driven insights, businesses can better comprehend their customers, enhance marketing endeavors and foster growth. Nevertheless, to truly harness the power of data, it is paramount to collaborate with professionals who can help make sense of the information. These experts specialize in developing data-driven strategies that deliver tangible results for businesses.

Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz featuring the President of Environics Analytics, Jan Kestle. They discuss her professional background in data and statistics, the genesis of Environics Analytics, and how to use data, statistics, and software to better understand customer segments, improve marketing efforts, and solve business problems.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Special Mention(s):

Related episode(s):

Quotable Moments:

  • “There’s so much data, that what’s not so important is how much data you have — but it’s what you do with it.”
  • “The more data that becomes available, the more people can bring insights.”
  • “If you know where people live, you’re likely to know a lot about them.”
  • “The more that data can be out there and used by people for multiple purposes, then the more value it brings back.”
  • “Teams are what makes companies successful.”
  • “Salespeople have to sell, service people have to service, and you have to know the problem that the customer is trying to solve.”

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:01 

You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz.

Jeremy Weisz  0:22 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have Jan Kestle, and she is the founder of Environics Analytics. And so Jan, before I formally introduce you, I like to point out all the other episodes people should check out of the podcasts. And, Jan, I’m not going to age you. You’ve been doing this for decades, you have a lot of experience in the field I had Kevin Harrigan on, he’s had an agency since 1995. Talks about the evolution of the landscape of business of the agency space and of everything in between. So that was really interesting. interview, I also had Todd Taskey, Todd Taskey, has the Second Bite Podcast, and he pairs private equity with agencies and actually helps sell agencies. And it’s interesting because he talks about valuations in the landscape as well from the standpoint of selling, and he finds sometimes people make more on the second bite than they do on the first because the private equity sells again. So that was an interesting conversation and many more This episode is brought to you by Rise25. Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and how do we do that we actually help you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast we do the accountability, the strategy and the full execution. Jan we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background and make it look easy for the host and the company so they can create great content and have amazing conversations develop great relationships. For me, the number one thing is relationships, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I have found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire and share with the world with they’re working on. And so if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should you have questions you can go to And I’m excited to introduce Jan Kestle. She is the founder and president of Environics Analytics, and they provide insights on Canadian markets and population. And for over five decades, they’ve helped hundreds of organizations solve business problems with statistics and math, she started just her and has grown it to 300 staff. And what they do is they identify the problems that need solving, they design a best practice analytics, and then they ensure that the results can actually be put into action. So it can change outcomes for the organization. So Jan, Thanks for joining me.

Jan Kestle  2:46 

Thanks very much for having me. I’m excited to talk about these, Jeremy. One little correction and Environics Analytics has been around for 20 years. But I’m the one who has been working for decades to say how many but interestingly enough, I’ve always been passionate about using statistics and data, mathematics to think about problems. It’s just kind of the way my mind works. So the first career I had was in government, and I worked as a government statistician for the province of Ontario, which is, provincial or like a state organization. Statistics is generally a national responsibility. So what we do and the local level is usually smaller. But I had a really good opportunity to come out of school with a degree in math and go right into a statistical organization in the early days, when we didn’t even have personal computers on our desks. And the thing about that was, I think, by working as a traditional statistician, looking at surveys and looking at compiling data, I really got a chance to look at how data make a difference to all kinds of activities. And so I did that for a number of years and actually ended up leading that organization. And it taught me how to really bring together the needs that organizations have for information and look at the sources and often think about how to use disparate sources and kind of adding value because that’s for everything to now everybody’s into data. But the truth is, there’s so much data, that what’s not so important is how much data you have, but it’s what you actually do with it. So I had 20 years of grounding in working for a provincial government meant that I worked on things like employment equity targets, locations for government offices, looking at social services, looking at economic accounts, so I got to really understand a lot of ways in which information can impact society. I left that organization after 20 years because the main or the only way I could really get new to challenges was to get out of the data field. And so I didn’t want to do that. And I had the opportunity to go and work for a really cool little company that was the first company in Canada to take census data from the government and transform it. So it could be used by businesses. It had been founded by an entrepreneur, when I joined the about 50 people, I’d never been a salesperson in my life. And I was recruited there because they wanted someone to sell the kinds of work they did, back to government. And so I did that. And I progressed, again, to be the president of that organization, as it grew from vote 50 people to being a very large enterprise in Canada, and also some expansion into the US that company was called CompuServe. It doesn’t exist anymore. But it was eventually owned by the poll company that was in the automotive statistics, and by Equifax, and others. And I mentioned that because in my career, I’ve seen the evolution of what kind of data are available and how people use data, there’s we’ve been through where all we could really get was government data and survey data. And then organizations had their own data in the CRM time, and you could mine the data about individuals. And then we got into digital data. And what I’ve seen is that the more data that become available, the more people can really bring insights. And I stayed with that company for another 12 years. And I guess from a slightly cynical point of view, I say I saw it reorganized and sold, you know, three or four times and helped with that, and was happy to do that. But a lot of people were making money off the businesses that we had built so that I finally decided to do something on my own. So kind of went from government to working for another entity, and then really starting my own business in the last 20 years of my life. And we started Environics Analytics in 2003, our angel investor was the one of the most respected pollsters in Canada, a leading sociologist, a very well-known author by the name of Michael Adams, who ran a research company but also specialized in helping understand the values and attitudes like the belief systems, so getting away from just behavior and demographics. And Michael is known for writing a great book about Canadians called Sex in the Snow. And then he later wrote a book called Fire and Ice, which won the best public policy Book Award in Canada, in I think about 2005, which showed the differences in values and attitudes between Canadians and Americans. So when he came for us to partner with me to start Environics Analytics. He said, Well, you can use the name of my company or not. And I said, oh, I think we’d be happy to because it was a well-known Canadian brand. And we found it in Environics Analytics, to be kind of a companion to the market research business. And the foundation of that business was not to collect data and do surveys, but to use data that existed and to build granular data based on the principle of geo demography, which is basically to get as much information as we could, for very small areas. And in our case, we’re talking neighborhoods, and leverage the principle that if you know where people live, you’re likely to know a lot about them. And of course, there is the fallacy that might not always be true, but it’s generally pretty true. So we started kind of what’s known as the postal code business or in the US, there was a plus for businesses. And we said, even if we don’t have individual data, we can attribute behavior from models that we get from census and then we can look at population growth and we can look at cities densities, and we can look at proximity to shopping patterns, and so on. So we can create really granular, up to date demographics. And then from those demographics, we can create segments that are multi-dimensional, that capture different types of neighborhoods and if all those information are available at the postal code, then we can loop in important surveys, both from governments and from other organizations. So if I know what kind of segment you fit into, and I know from a large reliable national survey, the segment behavior in terms of shopping behavior, media behavior, lifestyle activities, values and attitudes, then I can use statistical processes to make an inference to get kind of a 360 degree view of customers and populations. And so that was the foundation of the business is demographic segmentation, personification. But when you’re producing data like that, right down to the six digit postal code, which in Canada is one side of the street between two intersections, then those data as well as helping you understand the behavior in areas can be combined with the rich data that organizations both public and private sector organizations have about the people that they participate with. So if I overlay all this rich behavior data with what I know about my own customers, or if I’m a charity, I combine it with what I know about donors, or I’m a not for profit, I know who’s using my community centers, then I can start to understand that I have multiple kinds of users. And going back to first principles of marketing, what’s the right product offer? What’s the right message? What’s the right place to get it across? And what’s the right price so I can go back, I literally think about the four P’s of marketing. And now I can execute that right down to the local level. And I can have local level marketing strategies that nest all the way up to a national. So it’s a very exciting concept that leverages geography, demographics and statistical methodology. It’s a bit long winded, but that’s kind of the foundation of what we wanted to do then was build the databases that could drive that kind of analytics. And but we also knew that most of our customers wouldn’t have the data scientists and the data power necessarily to implement it, like the big banks would and some of the telecoms and really large retailers would have analysts and they could do great work. But what we did was we embedded our data into purpose built software, so that instead of just accessing data, users could get answers. So trying to solve a business problem. We’ve, over the years added to that building out our 30,000 proprietary data variables. For every one of the 700,000 postal codes of Canada, we’ve added a software as a services platform that literally has 1000s of workflows. So if I’m running a program for a charity, or I’m an analyst, or a retailer, I can actually go into the software envision, and I can say, Okay, I want to upload my customers who, you know, spend more than x dollars on kids clothes, and I want to see what segments they fit into. And where their locations are, how close they are to the balls, and how, really, if I want to get a message to them, what’s the right message? And it’s sort of the combination of data and software, plus, the third leg of the stool, our consultancy really understand their industry. So we organize our services by the industry sectors. So we build data and software routines, that answer the day to day questions that a lot of analysts have, and really puts the expertise that we have at their fingertips, and then we help them interpret the results. And what’s become more important as the business has evolved is not only producing good analytics, but making sure that they can be put into action. And so we have a lot of partnerships. We have partnerships with the DSPs. We have partnerships with Canada Post, we have partners with organizations that sell media, and with advertising agencies so that the insights can actually be put into action. And then, of course, the Holy Grail is, can we, after we do that, can we measure the results and show which things we’re going to so it becomes a test and learn environment, to make sure that data are really helping an organization become more effective, whether it means being more profitable, or offering better social services one way or another. With all this emphasis on data, we want to make sure that the data and insights that are being developed can cause an organization to take a different course of action and actually make them more successful.

Jeremy Weisz  14:36 

I’m curious, Jan, thanks for that. There’s so much to unpack there. I’m curious early on, you start and you can help many different companies, many different industries, many niches in the beginning, it’s you, right and in the venture you hire a small team, who do you focus on early on who are thinking your ideal client is in niches at that point.

Jan Kestle  15:03 

Yeah, well, it’s a bit tough because first of all, when you start, you can’t just hang out a shingle, you have to acquire all the data. And you have to model and build the value added, because we’re not a reseller of data, all the data that we produce has had proprietary methodologies to drive it down to the ground, and then link databases that would otherwise not be glued together. So that was it. That’s number one.

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