Posts Tagged ‘core values’

Personal Values Trump B2B Brands

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

In Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, he describes his research that led to this conclusion: despite their protestations to the contrary, human beings make decisions based on emtion, then justify those decisions by developing a rationale after the fact. This process held true in a wide range of case studies that Ariely conducted involving insignificant decisions, such as choosing a beer or a dinner entree when out with friends, to more significant choices, such as buying a new car or selecting from an offering of business tools.

His findings are confirmed in a study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board in partnership with Google. Based on a survey of more than 3,000 B2B buyers, as well as 70 marketers and 15 academics, thought leaders and consultants in different industries, the research revealed that the power of brands’ “unique selling propositions” has greatly dimished. Instead, the ability to connect with customers through personal values makes all the difference in a company’s ability to grow and prosper.

In the summary statement reporting the results of the survey, the CEB and Google point out that 1) only 14% of B2B buyers see a valuable difference between brands’ business value”, and 2) personal value will provide 2x as much impact as business value will on a B2B purchase. In other words, connecting on a personal level enables a company to cut through the increasingly cluttered marketplace. To learn more of the data and the compelling reasons to emphasize emotion rather than features and benefits in your marketing, download the complete survey report, “From Promotion to Emotion.”

The bottom line is, as more and more businesses realize the necessity to connect emotionally with their customers, the use of values-based stories in marketing and sales will grow even more dramatically than it has in the past 10 years. As I’ve been teaching Corporate Storytelling clients for the past 21 years, stories are far more powerful than most people–and especially business leaders–realize. Among the many reasons are that they help us make sense of the world, they illuminate values, and they help people remember essential information, which sometimes means the difference between destruction and survival. Stories have always fulfilled a multitude of purposes. They do so by touching people’s hearts.

Tell Stories Worth Telling, Win Customers and Employees

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

“Fast Company” recently posted an excellent article on 10 ways that companies can bring core values to life, which emphasized that in today’s information-loaded environment, having a purpose that benefits your community is essential. The article reports that 87% of global consumers believe businesses “should place equal weight on societal issues and business issues,” and a study on meaningful brands found that “73% of existing brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care.”

Three of the 10 ways to bring core values to life align with three main points in my Corporate Storytelling® system. They are

  1. Make customers the celebrity of your brand story, explaining the benefits of your products/services
  2. CEOs must lead by example, enacting the values on a regular basis so that employees understand the desiredbehavior that will be rewarded
  3. Inspire employees to become brand advocates

Each of these can be achieved by clearly articulating a relevant story that engages your employees, customers, and community and galvanzies support for your mission. Stories are powerful communication tools for many reasons; chief among them are that stories touch people emotionally, act as glue that sticks your brand in their minds, and motivate them to promote your business.

The lesson here is that you have to work harder to cut through the information clutter, and the most effective way to do that is to tell a story worth telling–one that clearly communicates values your customers, employees and community share.

To ensure that your company’s brands aren’t among that startlingly high 73% that the marketplace doesn’t care about, read the “Fast Company” article and assess how well you’re doing on all 10 measures recommended.


Howard Schultz Tells Starbucks Story

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As evidences by a recent post, I’m becoming a very big fan of Howard Schultz’s leadership of Starbucks. He not only clearly communicates his personal, and his company’s, core values, but he also demonstrates his commitment to those values by enacting them.

In a talk at the University of Denver’s School of Business, Schultz tells the story of how Starbucks has survived during the economic downturn, turned around a precipitous decline in business during those years, and also rekindled the fire for the business that for many reasons had nearly burned out among many of the company’s employees (known as partners). His return to the position of CEO after almost eight years as Chairman sparked a renaissance based on tough decisions and an astounding commitment to retraining employees and re-energizing his own–and the company’s–social consciousness.

This story also is told in his books, Pour Your Heart into It and Onward! Both are recommended reading.

Watch Schultz’ talk at the University of Denver:

Siemens A Great Example of Corporate Storytelling

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

SiemensWhen you visit Siemens’ website, a video story dominates the landing page. It’s about a young man in India whose mission is to teach martial arts to other youngsters growing up in poverty–similar circumstances to his own– as a means of helping them see their own potential.

At first it seems odd to start the discussion of a tech company by telling how a young man in India developed martial arts skills. And then, at the end of the 3+ minute video, it becomes clear that the video makes a huge impact in a memorable way by showing how a company enacts its values by improving individual lives. A simple written message appears onscreen, explaining that

  1. 40% of the children in India live in poverty
  2. St. Catherine’s Home is a charity that focuses on holistic development to help children acquire the knowledge and skills needed to create better lives
  3. The martial arts program described in the video is a part of St. Catherine’s mission
  4. As part of its Corporate Citizenship activities, Siemens funds the martial arts training course, known as “Happy Feet”

In addition to featuring a video at the top of the page, Siemens invites web visitors to click a link to other stories about Siemens’ efforts to improve lives.

How can your company use stories in an innovative way to convey your values?

How to Win Employee Support for Your Core Values

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

As part of a storytelling initiative, I’ve been conducting interviews with a representative sample of the client’s managers and employees at all levels and all locations spanning two states. The purpose of the interviews is to establish a benchmark for 1) employees’ familiarity with the core values, 2) their support of those core values as evidenced by their behavior as well as their expressed support, 3) their ability to tell the organization’s “umbrella” story, and 4) their ability to identify and tell stories that exemplify the company’s values. The findings will guide the storytelling training that will follow, with particular focus on identifying, crafting and telling values-based stories that will engage key audiences and stick in their minds.

I’ve been struck by the unusually high degree of consistency of their responses. The consistency is is particularly impressive when I ask them to name the top 3 or 4 values that drive day-to-day decisions. Most of the interviewees named the company’s four core values as those that drive daily decision-making.

Would you get the same result if you were to conduct a survey of your employees? In my experience most organizations wouldn’t. One strategy this company uses to ingrain the values into everyone’s minds could easily be adapted in any organization. The strategy is this: One of the four core values is the theme for one quarter each year. Meetings and other activities focus on the meaning of the value and how it should guide employees’ actions. In addition, budgets allow for managers’ discretion in planning special rewards, such as catered meals or field trips, for their teams or branch offices.

If you’re inspired to implement a similar program, let us know how it goes.


Values Define the Culture, Tell the Story

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Ranked for several years as one of Fortune’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For” globally, NETAPP is a company that understands the importance of creating a corporate culture. As reported recently in Singapore’s Business Times recently, the company says its culture centers on a positive work environment with opportunities for growth for everyone who works there, including the leadership.

The five values that differentiate NETAPP from other organizations are:

  • attitude is contagious, i.e., a positive outlook generates good energy
  • candor is encouraged so that honesty is maintained
  • a positive approach attracts followers, e.g. recognizing individual successes within the company is more important than focusing on competitors
  • leaders should appreciate employees’ work and inspire them rather than simply manage operations
  • openness to change is essential in today’s ever-changing, innovative world

What are the core values of your organization? Is everyone familiar with them? And especially: Is everyone aware of the importance of conducting business accordingly?