Before you can sell customers on your products and services, you need to sell them on your company. You need to convince them that your business is about more than making a quick buck. The same goes for potential employees, and even media. They all connect with organizations that have a greater purpose. The way many organizations do that is by developing strong core values and culture.
Why Values Matter To Your Business
Now more than ever, people admire companies whose mission and values align with their own beliefs. Simon Sinek describes this phenomenon in great leaders as well, calling it the Golden Circle. In his TED Talk, Sinek summarizes this saying, “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Your company values are the “why”. They tell the world why your business started, and why it is important.
Every successful business develops and runs on a set of core values, qualities that tell what the company stands for and how it operates. This doesn’t just apply to large corporations either. Some of the most notable companies today have grown to the success that they have, because they had a strong set of values and a mission to guide the way.
Of course, most of today’s business leaders already understand that values are important. Companies create them, post them on their website, marketing, and job descriptions. They talk about them when interacting with press and potential customers. However, saying that X, Y, and Z are what your company values is much easier than showing that and getting others to believe in it.
At 10twelve, we work with clients to not only develop these organizational beliefs, but to put them into their everyday business operations. How can you develop your company values and make sure they are prominent in all aspects of your business? Here are a few notable examples of organizations that do it well and their values.
Warby Parker’s include:
● Treat customers the way we’d like to be treated.
● Create an environment where employees can think big, have fun, and do good.
● Get out there.
● Green is good.
Starbucks’ mission statement and core values include:
● Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome.
● Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other.
● Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
The cosmetics company LUSH includes:
● 100% vegetarian
● Fighting animal testing
● Ethical buying
Each of these companies reflect those themes in how they develop products, interact with customers and treat employees. Some of the key lessons small businesses can learn from them are to:
1. Treat values like investments.
You have to put tangible effort, time and resources into them to get anything back. For instance, you can’t claim to value environmentally friendly products and take manufacturing shortcuts. You can’t create products with cheaper but environmentally damaging materials. You have to put in the extra budget to make not only the manufacturing of products eco-friendly but the entire process, from development to distribution.
The eyeglass company Warby Parker furthers its mission of doing good through its “buy a pair, give a pair” program. For every pair of glasses purchased, they donate a pair to people who need it in developing countries.
2. Think long-term.
Your company values influence your decision-making, or at least, they should. When developing them, you need to think about the big picture and plan ahead. If you state that your company values honesty and transparency, then every decision you make in the future needs to reflect that. If it doesn’t, it could damage your business.
Recently, The Honest Company, which is built on principles of honesty and trust, has been struggling with this dilemma. Because they outsource some of the manufacturing of their products, they aren’t in complete control of the process. It has led to product recalls as well as lawsuits by customers claiming the company misled buyers about ingredients in detergent and baby formula being completely organic. The combination of both has tarnished their “honest” reputation a bit.
If you market your business one way, you had better be prepared to run it accordingly. For instance, we call 10twelve the “no bullsh*t agency”. We don’t try to sell customers using marketing jargon, false promises and bogus tactics. We’re straightforward. If something sucks, we’ll tell you and give you an honest explanation why.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your core values, if that is the direction your business needs to go or if they were poorly developed from the start. It is one example of when not living up to your values can hurt your company, and also how your values will shape how you run your business.
3. Live your values.
You have make your values mean something tangible. Show others what you’re doing as an organization to live up to your promises. Some companies will volunteer, donate to select charities, and raise awareness for issues that they tackle everyday. If you are contributing and trying to make a difference, don’t be afraid to tell people about it. You don’t necessarily have to boast about it, but if you aren’t showing anybody how you are living up to your promises, you are losing the brand benefits of that.
For example, Starbucks has lived up to its core values by offering their baristas free tuition to further their personal growth. LUSH makes sure that all of their products are made according to their mission and standards.
For long-term success and loyal customer relationships, you have to keep your business grounded in solid, sustainable values. First-time customers may purchase a product from you because of its features, price or just to try something new. However, they will buy it again, continue to buy and share and influence their friends to buy it because of your company mission and values. Talent will gravitate toward your business because of your mission, and what it means to work there. Discover more about developing core values and how they are instrumental in growing your business by connecting with 10twelve today.