At a surface level, core values seem like vague empty words that do apply to your business but don’t really do anything for your operations or day-to-day sales. In business workshops, motivational speakers suggest attaching words like integrity, trust, honesty, value, etc. to your business.
Many miss the point and don’t work hard at clearly identifying what the businesses core values are. Words like the ones listed above can accurately capture your business if you instill these values into every aspect of the company—without doing this, they are just fluff.
Establishing core values is something that I prioritize with each of my clients that are in a rebuild phase or feel that the team and the business aren’t aligned. Core values are not just something that the team and company can fall back on, but they are also something that you can lead with.
In short, core values are critical building blocks to an organization; They are the fabric and the story of the organization, and also bring clarity across all areas of business including hiring, strategic planning, services, product line, product quality, community engagement, public relations, and of course, marketing.
SO WHAT IS A CORE VALUE?
Core values should cover all areas of your business—there is really nothing that core values don’t touch. Essentially, core values are behaviors, and you can determine your core values based on what you want to see within your organization and be held accountable by.
4 Core Values Could be: Curiosity, Courage, Collaboration, and Persistence
If these are your core values you want to look for these behaviors when you hire, when you work, when you interact with clients, and when you engage with the world
When used effectively, marketing will work to emphasize your core values to the world. You can see this in the way giant brands like Whole Foods, Starbucks and Nike market themselves. You don’t need to know their core values to understand what each of these brands stands for. These examples among many other popular brands use their core values to inform and drive their marketing.
By aligning your organization around core values, you can create a brand story that you are able to reenact through your engagement(s) with your customers or clients—which is also known as your ‘brand experience.’ Your employee’s engagement with the customer has to align with the messaging you are conveying through your marketing so that the brand experience is synonymous with the story that you are telling through marketing.
Basically, No Core Values = In Effective Marketing
It’s also not enough to portray values through marketing if you are not prepared to uphold them in your day-to-day operations. You have to keep the company accountable for their interactions, regardless of the size of your company. You have to make sure that everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid, that is why it is essential to establish your core values at the hiring phase. Otherwise, your clients will hold you accountable publicly, sharing their experience on Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews and more. Bad reviews can be detrimental to a business of any size, and it is because of this that brands who align themselves with core values have to be held accountable for doing such.
Without real, actionable core values organizations struggle with marketing. We have seen it time and time again. You have to create a vocabulary for your customer to talk about your brand.
How can you expect to drive a client’s behavior if you haven’t defined your own behavior?
Build your company around your core values, and once they are solidified focus your marketing efforts to reflect them. By doing this, you will magnetize your brand towards your target audiences. If you want to get value from your customers, you need to start with living and breathing your core values.
Need help finding and building your core values? The following are excellent resources: Dave Logan’s “Mountains and Valleys” exercise, Patrick Lencioni’s “The Advantage” and Gino Wickman’s “Traction.”
The above are all useful exercises to help your team develop your organization’s core values. It’s essential that you don’t do this alone; instead, you want to work with a group so that everyone buys-in.
Also, remember that accountability reaches all areas of the business from intern to CEO. No-one can be exempt, especially leadership.
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