Should we be using Instagram? How about Snapchat? Can we make one of those viral videos?
Stop! Please, for the love of all things water, stop. Also, breathe and know you are not alone. Lots of good companies are asking these very questions, and it is not that they are inherently bad questions. They are just the wrong ones.
Drowning in Noise
Your customer hears, reads or sees more than 5,000 commercials per day, according to Yankelovich and Sons.
On average, 18- to 24-year-old adults in the U.S. send and receive 3,853 text messages per month, according to Experian Marketing Services. In 2016, disengaged workers cost U.S. companies more than $450 billion, according to Gallup. Right now, amidst all those distractions, you should not be worried about your media channels—at least not yet.
You should double check to make sure you are walking the talk—that you have a message that matters. You should look at your marketing, not just your advertising.
Differentiating Marketing & Advertising
Advertising is a subset of marketing. Our firm considers any investment into a media channel to be advertising. Marketing is much broader, and it is much more important. Our firm considers any interaction with any customer or potential customer as marketing.
Your advertising, your trade show display font size and the way your company phone is answered? They are all marketing. If you have service vehicles, the way they are wrapped and their cleanliness are also part of marketing.
Every time someone comes into contact with some aspect of your company, his or her opinion of you is raised or lowered. This means everyone in your company is a member of the marketing department. Does this excite you or terrify you?
We stand for integrity and honesty! Yes, I know. You know how I know? Over nearly a quarter-century of consulting hundreds of companies, I have never met one that stands for sleaziness and rat-faced lying.
I am not saying values are not important. In fact, your company’s core values should be the foundation of everything you do. But, as my father used to say, “Son, don’t tell her you’re courteous. Open her door.”
Walk the Talk
To succeed in having your messages and marketing cut through the hazy fog of 21st century noise, you must make sure your values are, in fact, your values.
It is one thing to throw five to seven impressive words up onto a poster, stick it on your website and post it around your office. It is another to make sure you have systems, policies, procedures, warranties, assurances and experiences that truly reflect those values.
Do you? And do you have those true reflections not just for customers, but also for your team? If you are not walking the talk to your most important customers—your team—how can you expect your team to walk the talk with customers?
Sign Your Name
Seriously. Grab a sheet of paper and sign your name. Now, switch hands and do it again. I use this exercise in webinars and workshops to show people how deeply ingrained your values already are inside you.
Much like your signature, you have been developing your values since you were a child, and your company is a reflection of your image, or the image of someone or a small group of someones.
You cannot wish the right values onto your company. You cannot hire an agency to tell you what your values should be. Your true core values can only be uncovered by the people who know you best. Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, as the old song goes.
A Company Secret
I am going to give you a tool we have refined over the past five years to help uncover your company’s true values.
Conduct a survey of your employees. The slightly more daring of you also will survey your best customers. First, ask them which three words best describe your company. Do not tell them you are going to burn all these words in a dumpster. You see, you first have to let everyone get the words they think you want to hear out of their system. Magic happens in the fourth word.
On a second page of the survey, ask: “Now, I want you to choose a fourth word (please take a little time to think about this) that describes us just as well as the first three words you chose, but make it a word no one else we are surveying will choose. Then, tell us why you think that word describes us.”
Prepare to be amazed as the curtain pulls back on the real you and on your company. I gave you that incredibly useful tool because one of our company’s core values is generosity. It comes from my parents, and it has been growing in me since long before I started helping companies professionally. A long-standing company policy is that we freely share 93% of the tools, techniques and tactics we have developed or learned in our years of service to companies.
We know that by giving generously, we will attract companies that also appreciate generosity because like values attract like values, and companies that would like to know the 7% of stuff we do not freely share.
See? That is marketing, and when you have strong marketing, it is simple—although not necessarily easy—to create powerful messaging. Messaging matters, but every media channel can work when you look first at the consistency with which all of your marketing mirrors your values.
Do not tell us you are courteous. Open our door.