Have Clear Values
If Credibility was a triangle, then values would be the bottom layer.
As a business it may not always be obvious what your values are, or even that you actually have specific values . However, values are essential. They make you stand out from the crowd and put clear blue water between you and the competition.
Consider for a moment, buying a product or a service from a company when you totally disagree with their values? Perhaps you know that a company is particularly racist, or treats its staff poorly. Perhaps you know that a certain set of products are made by child-labour in appalling conditions? Or that the company is an environmental polluter?
Often we will just leave such a company well alone. But when we think deeper, we realise that at its core, these issues are representative of a company’s values (or lack of them). They leave an unpleasant smell in the air – an odour that may last for years or decades. Think: Have oil companies ever really shaken off the images of oil spills? Has a well-known supermarket name ever shaken off the image of horse-meat lasagne? Did Gerard Ratner ever shake off his image of “selling crap”…?
Decide what they are
Your particular product may lend itself well to a number of values, but to really check out your values, consider why the business was set up in the first place? Often a chat with the business founders throws considerable light on company values.
Then you may need to do a fact-check on whether they are still relevant. Has the market moved on?
Do they match your customers’ values?
It’s great having these values, but if they are at odds with your customers then stop right there! It’s time to ask your customers and discover what they care about. Are they worried about environmental impact? Do they care about your Corporate Social Responsibility?
This isn’t to say that if your own values don’t match your customers’ values then throw them out! Far from it. Values also give you personality and a back-story, so if they are important to you, hang on to them. But if your values are totally out of date, or could be made “even better” with some slight attention, or even just re-wording, then get stuck in and make some changes.
Values can’t just come and go with the wind. If you hold something dear, then you’re committing to a long-term relationship with it. So ensure consistency.
Values aren’t just a nice-to-have, they need to form the very backbone of your company. They are part of the corporate rationale as to why you exist. If you’re not really living them as a company – are you actually serious about them?
Of course you’ll be telling people outwardly. Your customers, your targets. But how about your staff? How many of them know and understand your company values? How many really buy into them?
Interesting point: New businesses are more likely to have strong and positive values. They are also likely to communicate them well. The older a business gets, the less likely they will communicate their values.
|Tip – include your values in your B2B ecommerce presence
Once you’ve really got to grips with your values, ensure you promote them at every opportunity.
Build web pages that include: “Our Values”
For some products that you sell they might resonate particularly well with your values – so highlight this.