Authentic core values are vital to a business’s marketing efforts.
Think of core values as marketing rocket fuel for your business. Managed wisely, your core values have the potential to excite your customer base and supercharge word-of-mouth, social media, and online communications about your business.
The seminal business book, Built to Last, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, identifies the “timeless fundamentals” that are present in businesses that have lasted for a long time – some more than 100 years. According to their research, one of the essentials for a business to become a lasting business is for it to be built upon strong, meaningful core values.
For example, Nordstrom was founded in 1901 on “earning trust from our customers.” Wells Fargo, Walt Disney, 3M, and all the rest of the “built to last” firms were founded on meaningful core values that, like Nordstrom’s, are still present to this day.
Nordstrom cultivates long-term relationships with discriminating customers who place great value in “customer service excellence.” Other businesses give good customer service, but Nordstrom sets the standard and maintains it year after year.
Walt Disney captivates families and children with its core adherence to “the worth of the family.”
3M (the Post-it® pads people) attracts innovative employees who keep producing fresh, new products because it sticks to a set of core values that include “sponsoring innovation, protecting the creative individual, solving problems in a way that makes people's lives better.”
Core values can be as simple as these examples: Customer service. On-time delivery. Sustainable growth. But remember, they must be authentic. Businesses love the idea of creating lofty values statements that wax poetic about integrity, honesty, and putting the customer first, but architects of truly visionary companies don’t just trust good intentions or “values statements;” they build cult-like cultures around their core values.
I have been in business for many years now, and I continue to practice what I preach. I just have to listen to myself and my instincts. And therein lies one of my core values: Listening. I want to attract clients who are willing to listen to me, to their clients, and to the marketplace.
Another core value of mine? Having a lasting impact on the businesses I serve. I want our work together to have a deep impact on my clients’ businesses. This guiding principle helps me to find clients who will value that, and to stay away from other businesses that might not be a match. In the end, you want to be a “good match” with the people you serve, and core values help you to find that.
Core values help to anchor successful brand messages, stimulate word-of-mouth communications, and energize online conversations by infusing meaning and passion in your messages.
Take some time to consider your core values. Then ask your family, friends, and some of your best customers what they think your core values are. Write down all of the core values that apply. Later, you can prioritize them and keep the ones on top of the list.
These core values will be your guideposts as you move forward, acting as your compass when you navigate the challenges, as well as the victories, of being in business.