After countless sleepless nights and long busy days, you have started your own business. You have built a strong foundation and the future looks bright for your company.
It is time to grow.
It is tempting to look for ways to revamp your products, beef up your social media, or sponsor events. However, before acting on any of those methods, consider going back to basics. In the beginning, you identified your core values. You built upon them and implemented them throughout the fabric of your brand. Now, it is time to reclaim those core values as you continue to build your brand up.
Remember that time when Dove, McDonald’s, Uber, Pepsi, and Facebook all failed miserably in understanding and tailoring their ads to meet the needs of their audience? Though it seemed like isolated incidents among a few large businesses, this is actually a common faux-pas.
Companies of all sizes can lose sight of their core values and put their business before their customers. Human-centered marketing puts customers, human beings and their purchasing behaviours at the heart of all marketing strategies. For your business to grow and truly be successful, great value comes from identifying and empathizing with your customer. Statistics show that only 25% of businesses see 15 or more years, but that number need not be so minute.
One of the top reasons corporations fail is because of a lack of audience awareness. Through re-evaluating your core values, you can move into the percentage of long-term successful businesses.
Re-evaluating and Focussing on Your Core Values
Foundational beliefs of an organisation are deeply embedded in the thoughts and actions of those within a company.
Are you aware of your core values? Do the leaders within your business know them? Are your employees aware of them? Can your customers identify them as they interact with your brand?
These are questions every business should contemplate on and answer. Your company’s values start with the CEO and trickle down to the customer. Your customers should be able to recognise your values through the marketing tools you use, communication platforms, sales processes, and any other interactions they experience with you.
Identifying and executing core values is critical to success because they:
- Shape your business and keep you grounded in your vision. Core values transform your vision into a reality and keep you focused on your “why”.
- Help you stand out in the crowd. Many companies are in the marketplace and they are selling the same products or services with a similar pitch as you. Investing in your business’ core values is what will set you apart from your competitors
- Attract your audience and fulfil their needs. When everyone in your organisation recognizes and puts the core values into action, it attracts your ideal customers, builds trust, and fulfils the needs that have already been identified by you.
Best-selling author of Good to Great, Jim Collins, has coined the term “The Mars Group” for his process of discovering and strengthening companies’ core values. The process includes working with those within your organisation to pinpoint five-to-seven of the most exemplary employees who live the core values and are respected among their peers. This group becomes the sounding board and model for your business’ improvements.
Implementing Your Core Values
Reinforcing your core values at every opportunity from internal meetings to external communications is vital to the growth of your business. When pondering ways to implement (or further implement) your core values into the roots of your organisation, consider revamping the following:
- All communication - Take a look at your company’s current forms of communication with customers, stakeholders, and employees. Take the time to identify all the ares your core values are absent or unclear. This is your opportunity to upgrade it to focus on your values and your people.
- The hiring process - What better way to introduce your company’s culture than during the hiring process. This is the time to communicate your company’s foundational beliefs and determine whether a prospective employee believes in and can commit to upholding your core values.
- Positive reinforcement - Yes, even adults need rewards for good behaviour. Instead of putting your energy into an employee who is foregoing the core values of the organisation, reward those who are carrying them out. Bonuses and public recognition are two well-received awards, and you can also get employee feedback about what motivates them.
- The sales process - When it comes to the documents used in your sales process, do they speak the language of your core values? It is one thing to list your beliefs, but the proof of that needs to pour out into your proposals.
- Performance reviews - After hiring staff that are in alignment with your company’s values and training them to embrace the organisation's culture, review them regularly. Review not only employee performance, but their commitment to its foundational beliefs.
A solid core values system is crucial in difficult times. It's fairly simple to adhere to established desired behaviours when things are going well. When a company hits a bump in the road, however, is when it's most important to stand by what you believe at your core. Take a look at where your business stands with its core values right now. Where do you see room for improvement?
Cat Williams-Treloar founded Humanisation, a Human-Centered Marketing Consultancy. Humanisation was born to help startups make a human impact in a digital world as they Go-To-Market across APAC.