Marketing supremo Matt Smith explains how to make sure your values resonate with customers
By Matt Smith
When we think of company values, it conjures up visions of corporate clichés from a bygone era. A collection of finely tuned buzzwords plastered across the workplace entrance and staff canteen, or a swanky handbook that no one reads.
|...the influence and power that consumers hold over your brand has never been greater.|
But if your business wants to keep pace with customers and competitors alike, your values need to be so much more than that. Here’s why.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a clear and consistent definition of what an organisation’s values should encompass is hard to come by. That said, you don’t have to look far to find that ”People” and “Teams” are most commonly cited as the core ingredients.
Which begs a question: where and how does the customer fit into all of this?
To me, company values should provide tangible benefit to customers. They should be the driving force that keeps your business perfectly aligned to their needs, wants and expectations.
That sounds relatively simple on paper, but a constantly evolving macro environment means that in practice it is far harder to achieve.
The times they are a-changing
In short, the influence and power that consumers hold over your brand has never been greater.
Where previously, company values may well simply have reflected internal expectations and standards, now customer expectations play an increasing role. Through their buying decisions and public commentary about a brand in the form of online reviews and feedback, members of the general public now dictate what a business should stand for, and the way in which it should operate.
Satisfying basic needs is no longer enough
Imagine a budget retailer that, 10 to 15 years ago, could keep its customers satisfied with relative ease. All it had to do was meet the only two real customer requirements: first, to offer the desired product, and second, to provide it at an affordable price.
Now compare those requirements to present-day consumers, many of whom are acutely aware of the social and environmental impact of their buying choices. You’ll quickly see the important part that the retailer’s values play in driving business.
No doubt today’s consumer still expects to pay a bargain-basement price. But they also want assurance that products have been sourced in an ethical and sustainable way. If the retailer can’t provide that assurance, someone else will.
This is where strong, customer-aligned and well-considered values have a tangible impact.
Not only do they provide the level of consumer assurance needed to overcome such barriers to purchase. They can also be the means by which a business holds itself to account on ethical commitments.
|Gone are the days when values were viewed primarily as an internal code of conduct.|
(Re)defining our values
It’s always worth taking a fresh look at your values, whether you produced them recently or many decades ago. And it’s never too late to redefine them.
There are many guides and steps available to help you go through this process, but the majority focus exclusively on the internal environment of your business.
In contrast, I would say that the first step to take when defining or re-defining your values is to get under the skin of what really matters to your customers. Deep-dive into each of the factors and emotions, barriers and attractions that your customers go through en route to a buying decision. Then align your values accordingly.
Put your values in the driving seat
Gone are the days when values were viewed primarily as an internal code of conduct. Instead, they should be outward-facing, placed front and centre of your business.
They should be seamlessly embedded in every aspect of your company culture and operations. They should create the foundation for your brand, influencing everything that you stand for.
In summary, your values should be the focal point that tells customers who you are, that you’re committed to doing the right thing, and that you’re on the side of all that is good, honest and true.
© Just Recruitment Group Ltd
Published: 11 February 2020
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