The Value of Values
Leaders I work with are constantly thinking about attracting and keeping the right people in two directions: the right employees for their team and the right customers through their marketing and sales.
Regardless of the size or industry of your company, having the right people fully aligned with your organization separates the good companies from the great ones. Employees and customer prospects alike, have higher and higher expectations of brands.
Company values are the linchpin, the secret sauce and the through-line bond that ignites an organization into a powerful unified force.
A recent LinkedIn survey found that employees would rather sacrifice lower pay (65%) and forego a fancy title (26%) than deal with a bad workplace environment. Going further, the same survey showed that employees care about whether companies foster environments where employees can be themselves (47%) and have a positive impact on society (46%).
Organizations need an operating system to ensure the team and its inward and outward efforts are aligned in:
- How values influence what the company makes and how it innovates.
- How values serve the business purpose, all stakeholders, and customers.
- How the values define customer service.
- How the values show up in the way the company markets.
- How the values create a clear value-proposition and loyalty.
When values are fully baked-in to the organization they show up everywhere—inside and outside the company walls.
After all, it’s your values—the things your care so deeply about you’ll go above and beyond—that creates your customer value. And, because consumers and businesses do so much research and vetting on the brands they decide to do business with, they are looking for an alignment in values. Not to mention consumers especially are insisting on knowing and aligning with the values of the brands they buy from.
A value shows itself most when tested.
Here’s an example. Ben & Jerry’s has been long-recognized as company that shows and lives its values. This includes, but isn’t limited to, racial injustice, climate change and rights for refugees. Founded by two white guys and owned now by Unilever, their board of directors, referred to as “Hero’s for Ice cream. Hungry for Justice.” is a model of diversity. They’re big on flavor and huge on advocacy, and loyal customers sing their praises for both.
Need stats on how consumers shop through values? Here’s a few.
- 64% of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue. (Source: 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study)
- 60% of respondents say brands should make it easier to see what their values and positions on important issues are when they are about to make a purchase. (Source: 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study)
- 71% of consumers prefer buying from brands that align to their values. (Source: 5W Public Relations’ 2020 Consumer Culture Report)
Considering all the hard work that goes into identifying and implementing an actionable value system, some companies won’t bother. They shouldn’t if it’s done without full conviction.
Half-hearted implemented values can ruin a company’s culture, and your public reputation. If a company doesn’t live up to a stated set of values, it diminishes market trust. Not only is it 10x harder to regain a customer after you’ve lost them, it is 20x harder to regain market trust once diminished. Just ask some big banks and automotive companies caught in scandal.
Remember, your brand is your character. Your character is made up of your values lived consistently and chiseled in the hearts of your audiences. Brands also live in subconscious. You feel them as much as see them. The best of them connect emotionally to customers in ways that are intangible.
Knowing there’s a through-line between your organizational values and your customers purchase decisions, you values create and increase your market value.
The more alignment in values between you and your customers, the more valuable you are to them. Also, the clearer an organization is on their values the more they can clearly identify their ideal customers and how to serve them.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.