What Is The Value Of Your Mission Statement?

A couple years ago I attended a “Chicago Tech on the Horizon” panel event at MATTER, in the Merchandise Mart. One question asked was, “what’s the difference between Millennials and Gen Z employees?” The panel all agreed in saying that Gen Z is very mission driven.

In fact, Gen Z looks for mission statements when researching new employers. For them, the mission is something to be embraced and becomes their goal to help realize. Once achieved, they are ready for the new purpose. They will also seek out brands to engage with that have a larger purpose that aligns with their values.

For them, a mission statement must be authentic. If these Gen Z consumers find other sections of a website talking about something that contradicts the mission or undermines it, they close that door. This behavior highlights how important a mission statement is and how important it is to be authentic.  Empty words have no value for Gen Z or anyone.

A Brand Pillar

Your mission statement is one of your most essential brand elements. It speaks to who you are and what you value. It’s not just something you throw up on a webpage so that you can check that box.

It should also be a litmus test for all your messaging.

If your mission speaks to social awareness, but you support events that feature industries known for undermining those values, you need to think hard about who you are.

If the opposite is true, you need to think about what your core values are. For example, your company gives back and supports its employees doing the same, but your mission speaks only of creating the best widget. You are out of messaging alignment.

Messaging Through-Thread

A messaging through-thread begins at the vision/mission and extends to sales interaction with prospects and end-users. If this thread is knotted or cut or broken, your market will know. Equally important, if you don’t think about how your mission drives your business, you may never see the disconnect yourself.

You don’t need to reference your mission statement in every headline, media posting, or spec sheet, but it does need to align with all those things. They should all support the larger brand story that has the mission at its heart.

The benefit may not be something you realize every day. Building a relationship takes time, and brands building a relationship with their audience requires time and patience. It may be because it’s natural to humanize things like a brand to give them personal characteristics. When we do, we start to seek the qualities in a brand, that we want in a person we have a relationship with – honesty, integrity, intelligence, humor, or authenticity.

The feeling of a separation of business and consumers that mirrored a class system is gone. The famous Henry Ford quote, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” It would only be acceptable if it were ironic. Even then, this takes it or leave it attitude doesn’t speak to a mission today’s generation would want to get behind.

 

Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s smart approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

Is Your Website The Perfect Dinner Party?

Would your guests look forward to coming back? Or did you open a bag of chips, provide red plastic cups for drinks, and trusted that visitors would figure things out for themselves?

Bringing together like-minded people who share common interests can make for a great event.

A great host works to make sure everyone has a good experience. First, they prepare a menu that offers a mix of foods and drinks to satisfy their guests. Next, they let guests know what to expect (relaxed or glitzy), which helps set the mood in advance. Also, if the host has assigned you seating, the goal is to match people with common interests to encourage the liveliest of conversations. Finally, they will also book entertainment with the audience in mind.

The guests will remember and discuss an enjoyable party experience. Moreover, future invitees will enthusiastically accept their invitations.  After all, a good host covers the basics then fine-tunes the details to create an atmosphere that works for everyone. In short, the efforts made by the host make the experience memorable.

Proactive Or Reactive?

Change food, drinks, and entertainment to content like blogs, videos, white papers, and you’ll find it’s the same thought process. For example, how much thought did you put into each part of your site? Was your audience the main driver for each decision, or was everything there because you heard you needed something like a video, blog, or whitepaper?

Videos are great but are they the kind your audience likes? There is value in humor and education. And in telling stories about things that impact people’s lives.  However, does the comedy match your audience? Are you teaching them something they can use today? Further, is the story relatable? Is the video’s purpose for you to say you have a video, or was it made to bring your audience value?

Saying all websites are just the same elements mixed in different ways is like saying chicken nuggets and chicken cordon bleu are both just breaded chicken.  Basically, you can’t analyze the pieces without context. If you don’t consider the context and the audience, your conclusions will be misleading and, ultimately, useless.

Learn About Your Audience

Even within one target group, there will be diversity, but there are more commonalities. It is the shared commonalities visitors or guest share that is the heart of what you want to understand. Take the opportunity to learn what your clients like and don’t like, what they think and want. Use your access to your client to interview them, ask them questions. Find out where they go to get industry content.

Also, learn about your competitor’s websites. What do you, as part of their audience, like about their websites? Pay attention to what sites you return to and what pulls you back?

Also, explore what’s popular, both for your industry and in general. It is common for cultural and consumer popular trends to show up in B2B marketing.  Ask yourself, are there things you can apply to your marketing, such as shorter videos, adding animation, or making an employee a star?

Don’t be afraid to experiment with content like humor. For instance, try parody if you think it suits your audience. If satire doesn’t work, try wordplay. It’s important to understand that even things that work will eventually run out of steam. And then it will be time to try something different. The odds are that if you create content, as a viewer, you think it is excellent, the audience will like it.

Something Worth Celebrating

In the end, much like an event you organize, your website should reflect your personality and sensibilities.  At the same time, it’s like meeting someone new at the party that you want to know better. In this case you show your best side, charm, humor, intelligence, accomplishments, or just listen and have a great time together. Because having a great experience, you would like to repeat, is what a great dinner party is all about, as is a great website.

 

 

Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s smart approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

What’s Your Professional Reputation Worth?

Your reputation is essential. You have two choices. One, you can cultivate a reputation.  Or two have one given to you by others. Indeed, you can work to build a reputation that puts your strengths and experiences top of mind, or you can let your clients and everyone in your industry draw their conclusions and hope that they say nice things about you.

The problem is “hope” has never been a viable marketing strategy… and your reputation is simply another term for your brand.

Nice Logo

Some think of a logo or color palette when they think of the word brand. It’s true, a brand does include those things, but it’s much more than that. Overall, a brand includes everything that reflects you. It includes your employees and all the material you develop to communicate who and what your company is. Further, it’s your website, social media posts, email signature, your business card, tradeshow booths, invoices, every presentation, brochure, video, voicemail, etc. In sum, they are all part of your brand.

Building a brand is critical to stand out in the marketplace. And It takes considerable time, thought, and effort to do it right.

What Are They Saying About You Behind Your Back?

How do you know what your real reputation/brand is? One exercise you can do to get a simple snapshot is to think of words that best describe what you want your company to represent.

Chiefly, keep it simple and try to keep it to a few words, one word if possible. For example, if you’re a service company, you might think of words like “Reliable” and “Friendly.” And if you’re in finance, you may think of words like “Conservative” and “Responsible.” For this purpose, depending on what you do and your industry, you may find words like “Progressive” or “Playful” appropriate.

It might help to ask others in your company to participate but understand that you may not agree on words. What’s more, if you find you can’t keep it to a few words, then your brand may not be well defined internally.

Now, review your company vision, mission, and values.  Do the words you thought about align with them? Did you think about expertise, but your vision is about service? However, if they don’t match up, that is a red flag, and you may have some work to do on your brand right now.

Next, with your chosen words in mind, a look at your website and your logo. Unquestionably, you need to be honest. Does your website and logo reflect the words you chose? If you chose words like “progressive,” but your website looks like a government site from 2014, that is a red flag. Or if you chose “friendly,” but the layout is complicated and challenging to navigate, this demonstrates a lack of friendliness.  These examples of red flags indicate your brand is not understood internally. As a result, this misinterpretation of your brand is that is what the world sees.

Your Reputation Precedes You

Companies often struggle with the disconnect from how they see themselves and how they present themselves. Another area to look at is messaging. How good is the copy? Does it tell your story well? Again, if you’re trying to be “Friendly,” but it’s written very formally, it creates a disconnect for clients and potential clients.

There is no one solution to building a strong brand. But there are a few rules. Including having a simple, clear message of who and what you are and why it matters. Don’t be scattershot. Be consistent with this message.  You need to get everyone internally on board before you can expect the outside world to believe it. And it needs to be authentic. We live in a sophisticated cyber world. Everyone is on the lookout and weary of those that “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk.”

A strong brand begins with your values and filters down to the footer on your emails. Together they tell the story of you that others remember.

What is your professional reputation worth to you? Your brand is one of your most valuable assets. Do you respect it like one?

 

 

 

Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s pragmatic approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

It looks great but can you sell with it?

A great looking brochure, app, or presentation can be impactful. But can your sales reps sell with it? That is the question. Will they be successful using your messaging and your tool?

Marketing without a well-informed strategy is scattershot. It’s like you grabbing a hand full of darts and throwing them at a board and hoping something sticks. Some might hit the corkboard. However, when you do it again, you get a different set of random hits. We define this approach as Scattershot Marketing™.

In the development of marketing plans and materials, sales reps should be included. It’s because they can offer insight that marketing may not have. In fact, marketing people without sales experience face pitfalls. Simply put, they don’t understand how sales will use it.

 

Sales Versus Marketing

Being asked to do more with less is commonplace. However, it’s essential to cut the right things. Many companies think it’s too costly to bring sales into marketing discussions when they should be out selling. Spending time in the early stages of strategic development allowing sales and marketing to share knowledge is essential for success. In the end, it will save money as well as time.

Marketing may have no firsthand knowledge of selling. They have never been on a sales call and have no idea how a salesperson uses aids during a customer presentation. And the counterpoint is the sales rep may have difficulty explaining how the piece isn’t what they need. It may take a brainstorming session to explore all the needs.

A knowledge gap can produce a divide between sales and marketing. And it’s not unusual for that gap to create tension. In this situation, marketing creates a brochure that lacks the key points sales want to highlight. For that reason, sales won’t use it, and marketing can only wonder why.

 

Repeating the Cycle

Consider the following scenario. It’s one I’ve seen play out more than once. Marketing is ready to deliver a new product. All their boxes are checked. It’s great-looking, well written and on time. At this point, a key stakeholder sees it for the first time. They have concerns after reviewing it. But marketing tells them it’s too late to make any changes.

Frustrated, the sales rep goes to a higher up. What’s more, the higher-up agrees with the salesperson’s perspective. It’s not the tool sales needs or wants. In brief, due to deadlines and budget, it is not only a problem; it’s a crisis. Soon, the finger-pointing begins, and blame is assigned. However, the cause of the issue is not a person or a department. It’s the process.

 

Solving The Problem

Overcoming communication challenges is what marketing does best. First, they start by identifying the factors that make up the issue. After that, they gather information to learn about those factors in-depth. And to support this discovery process, sales reps should be part of it. What’s more, they can educate marketing on what it means to walk in their shoes and what it’s like on the front line working to win customers.

Also, marketing needs to communicate what they can develop to that address the needs of sales. Ultimately, each side’s goal is to do what it does best—all while supporting each other.

For marketing work to stand out, the tools they develop need to be more than good looking; they need to be the tools that can build your business. In truth, great marketing doesn’t happen accidentally. It’s informed, strategic, and relevant.

The result gives both sales and marketing what they need.

Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s pragmatic approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

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