Defining Your Values: The First Step to Maximizing Purpose & Impact
I’ll be blunt; consumer purchasing patterns have fundamentally shifted — and they’re never going back. That’s because the change isn’t tied to the pandemic, supply-side disruptions, or even the latest Silicon Valley startup.
This is a full-scale evolution…a time when customers demand more than good service, great products, and competitive prices. In today’s market, what really sets you apart is “trust,” and that’s never given freely.
Trust must be earned, repeatedly and over time. In today’s article, we’ll reveal how you can jumpstart the trust-building process and help guide you on your journey to building purpose & impact into your business.
But first, let’s take a closer look at how we got here.
Out with the Old (Way of Doing Things)
Just a few years ago, businesses could easily orchestrate the narrative. Tactics such as gating non-proprietary information or concealing pricing were commonplace. But with the internet's ubiquity and the ascendancy of social media, customers received round-the-clock access to impartial insights about products and services.
The rise of technology and an ever-growing demand for transparency has made it more challenging for businesses to control the conversation — and that isn’t a bad thing.
This paradigm shift has driven consumers to seek companies that resonate with their values and whose actions they can trust, while distancing themselves from those that fail to align with their values. The benefits — or consequences — can be significant.
According to a Google Cloud & Harris Poll study:
Ben & Jerry’s: A Case Study in Maximizing Impact
To build trust with your customers, it is crucial to know your values, communicate them clearly, and live them with integrity every single day. One business that does exceptionally well is Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream manufacturer.
In the early 1980s, Ben & Jerry's was struggling to compete against larger ice cream brands. They knew they needed to differentiate themselves from the competition, so they decided to make social responsibility a central part of their business. They set out to create a product that was not only delicious but also ethically made and sourced.
They made a commitment to using only hormone-free milk and cream, sourcing fair trade ingredients, and reducing their environmental impact. They also implemented a policy of paying all their employees a living wage and provided other benefits like health insurance and stock options.
These values were communicated through their marketing materials and on their packaging, and they quickly became known for their unique flavors and commitment to social responsibility. Today, Ben & Jerry's is a household name, and their values have become a fundamental part of their brand identity.
And what was the financial result? The founders turned a $12,000 investment into a $300 million acquisition — and they’ve done a lot of good along the way. This is far from an isolated incident. In fact, a client's profits increased by 10x (to the tune of $3 billion) by connecting with their values and sharing them with the world.
The bottom line is that when consumers see and trust your values, they will be more likely to become loyal customers and refer you to others. This, in turn, will have a direct impact on your revenue, profit strategy, employee retention, and margins.
So, how do you get started?
The First Step: Defining Your Company’s Values
To weave purpose & impact into the fabric of your organization’s DNA, you must first define your values. Here’s an activity we sometimes do with our corporate clients.
- Start by creating a list of the values that are important to your company. This can be anything from honesty and transparency to sustainability and community involvement.
- Once you have your list, prioritize the values in order of importance to your company.
- Next, consider how each value is currently being lived out in your company culture and daily operations. Are there any gaps between the values you say are important and how they are being practiced?
- Now, think about ways you can actively live out and reinforce each value in your business. This could be through employee training, community outreach programs, or internal policies and procedures.
- Finally, create a plan to communicate your values to your customers and stakeholders. This could be through marketing materials, a values page on your website, or a values-focused mission statement.
Remember, defining and living out your company values is an ongoing process. Regularly reassess and refine them as needed to ensure they remain relevant and meaningful to your business.
By taking the time to define and live out your values, you'll be well on your way to embedding your purpose throughout all elements of your business. But core values are not just for a poster on the wall. They need to be communicated effectively, lived out, and used as a guide for decision-making in all areas of your business. This means using your values to inform who you hire, who you fire, and the partnerships you form. Everyone in your company should be able to articulate your core values and understand how they're put into practice on a day-to-day basis.
By making your values a central part of your company culture, you'll create a stronger sense of purpose and identity, which benefits everyone involved.
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