I didn’t read this first (obviously!) – and it cost me heaps of time and headspace. Don’t be like me 🙂
One of the most powerful exercises you can do before committing to run a business off the back of your personal brand (or any other outcome you’re hoping to achieve) is this:
GET YOUR PERSONAL VALUES IN ORDER.
It sounds flaky. It sounds airy-fairy. I hear your battle cry!
I just wanna sell stuff, why should I waste time thinking about my values?
Whoah pardner … slow down a sec …
Seriously, you might think that now, but ultimately, not having your values in place will cost you dearly down the track.
WHY? Because getting your ‘values’ house in order first will cure a lot of ills down the track when it comes to marketing and branding especially, but also other things such as – which clients should I work for (if you’re a consultant)?
Why do values work?
Because they provide you with parameters to work within – think: a 10-pin bowling alley for kids. Your values are your ‘bumpers’ – they keep pushing you back into your ‘lane’ so you can stay focused and, more importantly, true to yourself.
Communicating your brand and marketing your products is a tricky business at the best of time; if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be time-consuming and expensive, and worse, confusing for your audience.
Any inconsistency in communicating with your audience is going to show up like a pimple on your forehead. Sure, in some instances, it might just be a blackhead, but there will be times when it becomes this ravenous pus-ridden pimple that sticks out like … well, you get the picture 🙂
Guess what? You’re going to confuse people. Worse, inconsistent messaging can cause distrust. And trust, as we know, is the social currency of today.
It’s hard enough to cut through with your communications without muddying the waters!
Now, I’m speaking from experience here: I’ve gone through the process, thanks to my sessions with business coach extraordinaire, Suzy Jacobs.
What do ‘values’ look like?
I’m not sure there’s a particular ‘look’, to be honest. No doubt they will differ from individual to individual. We are, after all, unique beings, with our own quirks, personalities, skills, experiences, resources and goals.
And that’s the key: when you’re crafting your values, they need to be unique – to you!
Don’t copy anyone else’s. Take the time to work through them yourself. It’s not an easy task, as I found out, as it requires you to look deep inside of yourself to reiterate and confirm what’s important to you. Not just important, but really, really important.
Values are your principles. They’re what you stand by as an individual. As a professional. If an issue comes up, some potential conflict for example, by reverting to your values you have guidelines to help you make a decision.
Dig into your values
Say a new business opportunity comes your way, but there’s something about it that doesn’t feel right. Dig into your values – is there alignment with your potential new client? You’ll pretty much know straight away, and then the answer whether you should take on said client becomes clearer and therefore straightforward.
But of course, your values also extend to marketing and communications, and how you present yourself to the world.
If you detest how some internet marketers go about their business, pummeling people with a barrage of “buy now’ emails – if your ‘value’ is to treat people with respect, then you know what to do.
If you believe in being open and generous with your ideas, insights and expertise, then don’t hold back! Publishing content that helps others will feel right because it’s aligned with your values.
Suzy Jacobs says “choose the values that are most meaningful to you”.
Values are fundamental because they are your fallback in a crisis and when making decisions. They are also a powerful way to attract new clients. When they share your values, that’s the basis of a long-term relationship.”CHRISTOPHE STOURTON
Christophe published a video that shows how your values can make you different. And isn’t this what we all want to do in the marketplace? Differentiate our business and personal brands?
So what do values look like in action?
For the purpose of illustration, here are are the values I developed with Suzy and that guide me today:
AUTHENTICITY – What you see is what you get: I embrace open and straightforward communication no matter what the channel or format: face-to-face, from the stage, via the media or social channels. Likewise, I choose to associate with people of similar ilk: real people doing real work, who lead with their heart and demonstrate genuine intent in their chosen endeavours.
COMMUNITY – Together we’re stronger: I foster a sense of connection and belonging among my peers, friends, clients and partners, with a view to transforming the core of my professional network into a friendly and respectful ‘neighbourhood’ made up of like-minded folks who are passionate, empathetic, positive, and forward-looking. I believe in consistency, in showing up for people ongoing, not just when I need something from them.
SUBSTANCE – Cut the platitudes please: I strive to deliver optimum value through my content, my talks, and my mentoring and consulting efforts. Likewise, I choose to work with people who take a similar value-add approach: professionals who communicate insights, ideas and philosophies that have not only been well thought through but also road tested through practical experience.
What does this mean for me?
If you know me, I would hope that I live up to these values. Maybe I “fall off the wagon” occasionally, but having these values written down, staring me in the face most days, ensures I’ve always got something to guide me in my decision-making, whether it’s the content I create, the clients I work with, or the collaborations I undertake. Generally, how I show up in the world.
During COVID-19, like many others, I spent a fair bit of time working out my direction moving forward. I was reassessing everything, and my values helped me immensely during this ‘think time’.
What about your good self?
Have you gone down the ‘values’ path, and if so, how helpful has it been for you professionally?