Every business has its own set of core values. So, how can it be used to help with the creation of business goals and marketing strategies?
According to studies, integrity, transparency, honesty, and inclusivity are all becoming increasingly important to today’s consumers.
What if we told you that by leveraging those values, you could help your company grow?
The most successful companies understand that the goal of every business is to create value for customers, employees, and investors and that the interests of these three groups are inextricably linked.
In this week’s Let’s Talk, we asked experts to share their expertise on this subject, as culture and company values are the foundation of any business, regardless of size or profit.
Jee Moon, Vice President, Merchant Marketing and Business Insights, APAC, American Express
“To establish value-driven marketing, you must identify what matters to your employees. Once a value is nurtured and embedded across your internal culture, only then can you authentically extend it across the external activity.
“The Leadership and Purpose episode in Business Class: The Series provides a playbook on how your business can work together to establish a common goal.
“At American Express, diversity of people and experiences fuel the innovation we need to deliver our best for our colleagues, customers, and the communities we serve. We want our team to be front up as their true selves, embracing diversity where every voice is valued and different perspectives are celebrated.
“Consider setting up an internal working group. Our internal PRIDE+ network champions diverse LGBTQIA+ stories and perspectives, drives education and awareness, develops new ideas and innovations and challenges stereotypes and they have been instrumental in American Express becoming the Principal Partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Sydney World Pride.
“For us, taking clear and positive action to improve our world is simply the right thing to do. Define what your employees care about, how you can stand alongside them as a business and together, bring that passion to the outside world.”
Alex Pusenjak, Global VP People & Culture at Fluent Commerce
“The first step to ensuring an inclusive culture in your organisation is to educate your leadership team on what it is and why it’s important before you get to the ‘how’. It is really important to make the ‘business case’ for DE&I so that it is ‘baked into everything from the beginning. That way the accountability lies with everyone, rather than trying to create a program and implementing it on your own.
“Once you’ve done that, you must get started. You can waste time creating a complicated program that ultimately doesn’t see the light of day, so you have to ‘jump in’ and start somewhere. What helps you do this is to take a barometer reading of where the organisation is in relation to DE&I and employee engagement surveys are a great way to do this.
“I’d recommend setting up a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Employee Resource Group that is tasked with proactively working on positive initiatives to create lasting and meaningful change. Ours at Fluent Commerce has been in place now for 12 months and they have successfully implemented a range of measures including our Work 180 employer endorsement, an education campaign about global pronouns and the promotion of 9 women across the business in the past 12 months.
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has to be baked into all areas of your company. A company culture encouraging diversity means all employees are more likely to be offered flexible work schedules – a necessity when juggling childcare or looking after elderly parents.”
Dora Peake, Group General Manager – People & Culture at Versent
“The last two years have seen unparalleled change as organisations globally have had to adapt to a remote workforce, fierce competition for a smaller talent pool and work and home becoming intertwined.
“For Versent this has created a very real opportunity for us to lead by example and consciously create a more diverse workforce and leadership in an industry that is heavily dominated by males. Our actions around flexibility and policy work are examples of our efforts to create an inclusive and diverse culture.
“Flexibility is a key pillar at Versent with our workforce being fully hybrid. Our flexibility options are unparalleled and tailored to our employees. Our work on policy review; creating gender-neutral policies demonstrates our commitment to removing bias. Our future includes significant investment in the ‘Employee Experience’ as we are aware of the benefits of a more diverse workforce and an environment that fosters inclusion and belonging which celebrates our unique differences.”
David Weinberger, Head of Growth Marketing at Metigy
“In an age where consumers demand transparency, brand and company culture are one and the same. It is no longer enough to even be transparent, you have to go above and beyond to showcase the interworkings of your organisation.
“We all want to feel an affinity to businesses before we buy something. We want the brand we are associating with to represent our worldviews. Using hiring as an example, this could mean demonstrating how the company values play an important role in attracting and retaining talent, leveraging the employer value proposition, culture initiatives or leaning on employee case studies who share their own experiences.
“These tactics for leveraging company values can be applied across all types of marketing, helping to add a human layer to stories around navigating difficult decisions, differentiating the brand and attracting the right breed of customers.
“Effectively communicating company values in marketing and how your brand is walking the walk, not just talking the talk, will help you stand out. Incorporating values in every aspect of your marketing and ensuring it is embedded in a sound strategy (which AI technology can help inform), will ensure the messaging both reaches and resonates with people.”
Lisa Khatri, Senior Manager for Customer, Brand & Design Experience, Qualtrics, Asia Pacific & Japan
“When it comes to communicating a set of company values that resonate with consumers as well as talking the talk you need to walk the walk too. For example, if fast and superior customer service is a value then organisations need to ensure they have got the processes and systems in place to deliver it.
“Failure to demonstrate how you actively live your values can have a significant impact on business performance, with Qualtrics research revealing more than half of customers have switched brands when the customer experience did not meet their brand promise.
“Once you’ve worked out how to bring your brand values to life, you need to identify the key moments in the customer journey that have the biggest impact on your customers – such as at the point of sale or in support calls. Equipped with these insights, organisations are able to show up in the ways their customers expect when it matters most, ensuring their brand promise, purpose, and values guide every action they take.”
Carolyn Butler-Madden, Purpose specialist and author of For Love & Money
“Values are an organisation’s unique cultural identity; a promise of what people can expect from them. Storytelling is a powerful way to bring those values to life.
“Here’s an example from Intrepid Travel. Their values – Growth, Responsibility, Innovation, Passion, Fun and Integrity – closely align to their higher purpose; to be the best travel company for the world.
“When the pandemic forced the travel industry to shut down, Intrepid learned that what their customers missed most was a sense of togetherness. Channelling passion, innovation and responsibility, instead of posting products or promotions, they turned their social channels over to their customers.
“Be Together” was the result. Customer stories express gratitude to the people they met on their travels. A beautiful video launching the campaign reflects on the collective pursuit of connection that brings people together. It then invites people to choose caution over curiosity, to stay home and look out for each other. Who knew being responsible could be so emotive?”
Ammar Issa, Founder & CEO of AMR Hair & Beauty
“A positive and inclusive company culture comes from the top. As a business owner, this is something that I think about daily, and it’s a constantly evolving process as we consider new ways to ensure our staff are happy and we are recruiting team members with diverse backgrounds.
“For us, we’ve found that the best way to practise inclusivity is to make sure that there is true representation in the business. We like to ensure that people of all genders feel comfortable at AMR Hair & Beauty, and being a beauty retailer means that we attract plenty of females to consider working with us.
“Being from a culturally diverse background myself, I understand the importance of giving opportunities to minorities and practising what you preach! The more diverse people at the table, the more interesting and different ideas will be created!”
Alicia Kearns, CMO, Render
“Today corporate and employer brand is intertwined and employees are telling a brand’s story and attracting great talent more authentically and with greater influence than the company itself.
“To ensure these market and customer interactions represent values, embedding these in internal communications while partnering closely with People & Customer leaders, will translate to external messages communicating with the right human-centric tone and sense of purpose.
“At Render, our values have both an aspirational and tactical lens. For instance ‘Be Bold’ and ‘Innovate for Impact’ are aligned to our company’s mission and are ever-present principles in strategic planning, program development and customer experiences. They give us permission to think outside of BAU about consider ‘big bet’ and ‘big rock’ moments that may achieve 5-10x run rate or truly delight our customers.”
Carmel Zein, Senior Marketing Manager, APAC, Yotpo
“It’s so important to genuinely live and breathe your company values in order for them to manifest appropriately in your marketing. Understanding the common values you share with your customers and then translating that back to them will create a strong affiliation with your brand.
A few things to consider:
- Take a break from sales-based marketing and focus on relating to your customers through topical and value-driven communication. Everyone is being sold to every day, so it can often be a breath of fresh air when you see a piece of marketing that genuinely resonates with you, with no ulterior motives
- Make sure you are representing your own company values in the work you do. For example, sustainability is big for us here at Yotpo, so when we gift our partners and customers, we strive to use sustainable products and materials
- Understand what’s important to you and your audience and create spaces and opportunities to support them. We are on a mission to give a platform to women in eCommerce and minority-owned businesses and have a whole portion of our business dedicated to championing this
- Align yourself with like-minded people, whether that be through collaborations, organisations or charities. We are stronger together and can reach new audiences when our marketing campaigns align more closely with these values.”
Clancy Clarke, Head of Marketing and Analytics at DesignCrowd and BrandCrowd
“Your company values should resonate across every aspect of your business, but especially at touchpoints with your customers. Your marketing funnel is the perfect channel through which to communicate your brand’s ethos effectively to your audience, so use it to your advantage.
“At DesignCrowd and BrandCrowd we have ten core values which translate into how we market ourselves as a business, but the below three can be leveraged regardless of industry or expertise.
“Think big: Think about not only what your business looks like now, but how you can scale, and what big picture goals your marketing tactics will help you achieve.
Create fun: Share your marketing activity with the team. This can be fun for non-marketing people (like engineers!) and can help provide a valuable outsider’s perspective.
No bulls**t: Choose transparency over baiting – your customers will see through it every time. A trustworthy, reputable brand will go a lot further in the long run.”
Stephanie Silvester, Senior Marketing Director, Asia-Pacific at ADP
“A brand’s identity inherently reflects the values an organisation chooses to uphold. When it comes to promoting your business, it is essential they’re embedded in everything you do.
“It starts with clearly defining your core business values. Lance Armstrong is a great illustration of what happens when you don’t practice what you preach. It takes years to build a great reputation, but moments to erode it.
“Set tangible values and use them as your beacon. Live, breathe and reinforce them. Celebrate and actively promote examples that uphold your promises.
“At ADP, we strive to ignite the power in people with the cornerstone of our one-of-a-kind culture emphasising diversity, equality and inclusion. We live this philosophy in different ways – and incorporate it in our marketing. From the relationships, we foster with our clients, partners and employees, to the solutions we design, and the language and visual identity used in marketing.
“Visibly role modelling your company values makes good business sense. It helps your business and your marketing if you can be consistently recognised for the value you bring to your clients, your staff and your community.”
Jonathan Ryan, Regional Manager at Infobip
“Consumers expect much more today. They have an appetite for originality and personality, they want to know and understand the brands they love and choose to do business with.
“Customers don’t just want to buy what is at the top of the funnel, they want to buy an experience and to align their values with it. Over the years, my team and I have shared a vision and set of core values that have shaped the way we do business with our customers.
“At Infobip, we value creativity, persistence, innovation, integrity and living meaningful lives – all of which weaves into how we create and enhance our solutions; engage with clients and partners, and bring the company to understand consumers’ needs better. Leveraging on company values can act as a compass in marketing strategies – it will direct you to be the brand of choice while valuing what’s important to your customers.”
Monica Watt, Group Chief HR Officer at ELMO Software
“People want to know that the companies they work with stand for something, they want to have pride in the work they do and who they do it with. People hear a coherent values story of the leaders who walk their talk, so people can see and feel the values at every point of their career in the company.
“A great way for companies to leverage its values in marketing is by fostering a value-led culture where a living and breathing culture can be seen outside of the company. It is self-evident when people and companies share values in how they engage, make decisions, and have a sense of community. You can see this in social media engagement, recruitment strategies and positive employer sentiment. When leveraged right values in marketing can be one of the most effective endorsements of what a company stands for.
“The task for companies is to ensure that values aren’t some esoteric statements found on the wall but are actionable and clearly understood statements that people and leaders can believe in and action.”
Andrew Cornale, Co-Founder and Digital Experience Director at UnDigital
“All the marketing in the world can’t make up for a bad product and the same goes for company values. Unless you can walk the talk, it doesn’t matter how well you market those values; they’ll be inauthentic and flunk out instantly. So, what can you do?
“Know without a shadow of a doubt what your company values are and communicate them often to both internal and external stakeholders.
“Stand by them. If you value a positive work environment, foster one. If you value equal opportunities, create them. Company values are more than words that live on your website, they can’t be forgotten and leveraged at the same time.
“When marketing or pitching for new work, communicate your values clearly and with examples. If a value is a sustainability, then showcase exactly how you’re being sustainable.
“Embody your values and they’ll come naturally to your marketing. This isn’t something businesses can fake. Values can only be leveraged for marketing and business development purposes once they’re reflected upon and authentic.”
Dr Eamonn McCarthy, CEO Lighthouse Foundation
“In a post-pandemic environment, increasingly customers are interested in organisations with outwardly focused values who are invested in the community.
“For Lighthouse Foundation, this leans well into our marketing, it’s one and the same with what we hope to achieve as a not-for-profit. Companies looking to generate profit though can also use this to their benefit. Businesses hoping to share their links to the not-for-profit sector and other community groups can focus their marketing strategies on drawing visibility to values and how these values translate into action.
“Now is the time for organisations to build into strategic plans the importance of creating and sustaining relationships beyond financial stakeholders. Organisations should consider the benefit they provide beyond profitability and how they can communicate their purpose. Businesses should aim to balance their messages across key platforms, sharing an equal number of communications around meaningful purpose, alongside profitability and business success.
“Organisations should ensure they are highlighting their services or product, and celebrating their success, while also communicating their values and the way they contribute, beyond financial profit.”
Scott McCorkell, CEO and Owner McCorkell
“Whether we accept it or not, every company has their own values that define and shape the way people interact with each other internally or externally. Corporate values are the embodiment of a company’s identity, culture and etiquette. Ultimately guiding their
actions and strategies towards employee and customer relationships and employee to employee conversations.
“I believe there is one crucial company value… telling the truth. Communicated effectively in our marketing endeavours. It begins from within the organisation to streamline down to our partnerships and client campaigns.
“Telling the truth develops trust and can empower company and client relationships. Much like clients sharing business information or the accuracy of facts advertised in a campaign.
“When an organisation like McCorkells aligns itself with this highly important value, our clients expect this type of behaviour within the business relationship. Setting a precedent for others around us – in other words setting the standard for the last 30 years!
“Whilst it is interesting to note that trust and truth intertwine heavily within my organisation. Telling the truth is also about accepting that the quality a customer is going to receive is not going to be produced from a $100 social media post, that so many will say is highly effective and producing an ‘authentic’ look and feel.”
“I believe that truth specifically extends from being authentic. However, these days, coming out and claiming that you are ‘authentic’ automatically makes you disingenuous and trying too hard.
“It is about acknowledging that quality is going to derive from a committed investment into a campaign with steady increments to achieve results. Extending from the role of consistency that breeds success, in this instance… through quality and truthful marketing.”
Marco Zande, Marketing & Digital Comms Executive at WLTH
“Aligning your marketing strategy to your company’s core values is paramount to achieving business success. Two ways you can effectively do this include:
Emphasise core values within the company: It may be trivial for others, but a rapidly growing business can sometimes lose sight of its core values. Everyone in the business should inherently know what is giving direction and structure to the business. If understood correctly, the core values should shine in everything that they do and it will naturally come through in the marketing.
Be proud of what the company does: With these core values actively shaping the organisation, it becomes easier to market the business’ products and services to a wider audience. Before anyone else can buy into your company, the employees themselves need to truly believe in the shared cause and the passion is sure to translate.”