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Who cares about values?

Values are the ground-zero of decision making.  We purchase based on what we value.  We sacrifice time, money and resources to have what we value.

Values are the heart motivation that cause people to make choices and take action.  They are based on beliefs or ideals about what is good or or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values can be lasting and intrinsic, such as the inherent value of life, friendship, community.  They can also be secondary, or learned and adaptive values such as wealth, mobility, or fitness.  Values inform us in the decisions we make influencing our purchases, attitudes, behaviors.    Values can change over time and across a lifetime.  For example, the values an adolescent holds may be very different from the values the same person holds as an eighty year old.

Intrinsic values, like the preservation of life for example, can also be twisted, impacted by another’s beliefs, behavior and actions. An abusive parent, can twist a child’s perspective of the value of their life, impacting their a natural respect for another. A terrorist may be willing to trade his life and murder others based on a desirable future in an unknown afterlife, all this influenced by another teacher or mentor.

Politicians have an ability to project certain values that resonate with others in society, attracting them to their cause.  These shared values, generate a shared vision of what could be, driving people to choose and support them.

Ultimately, as business leaders we are in the business of serving our customers, helping them choose products and services that bring life and health.  Anything other than this is hedonistic, existential and hopeless.

As marketers and communicators dedicated to serve our customers, we must focus on understanding both the timeless and changing values of our target audiences.  We must focus on how our products and services actually reinforce these life-giving values inherent in everyone.

Classic selling of product or service features and benefits is shiny-object selling -- trendy and short-lived.  Great companies make a values-to-values connection creating deep engagement, trust, loyalty, and advocacy.

Can Lance Armstrong Live Strong?

Lance Armstrong came clean and admitted that he had lied, bullied and annihilated people for the cause of winning sports events.  Call it self-preservation, if you will, but it became apparent that to him that winning is not worth compromising everything.

In fact, as the stories unraveled, it became apparent that the admiration of fans, his economic stability, and his competitive opportunities were drying up as people came to realize they couldn’t trust him.  In other words, winning isn’t everything.

Celebrities, politicians, leaders believe they have earned people’s trust and then too often betray it, with personal gain eroding personal integrity.   The decisions and actions one takes reveal where anyone’s values lie.

Trust is funny that way.  People want to trust those that have risen to stature and success.   We believe that they share our work ethic, our sense of right and wrong, and our commitment to loyalty and integrity.  We found out Mr. Armstrong did not.

Mr. Armstrong found out that what he values, namely winning and dominating at any cost, is not the primary value held by people who generally admired him.  Fairness, loyalty, integrity once again has been proven to be more important to us as a society than even a disciplined work ethic, remarkable physical achievement and winning at any cost.

In the end, while being recognized world-over for his outstanding achievements and showered with millions of dollars, he’s actions revealed he was morally, relationally and ethically bankrupt.

The good news is that we are a forgiving people.  If Mr. Armstrong turns and takes action to reveal personal remorse, nurturing personal values of loyalty, humility, service, and integrity people we be willing to trust him once again.  Does he have the will to learn from this?  Is he disciplined enough to change?

Twitter me this Batman?

No doubt, Social Media is THE hot topic.

I attended a major conference last week…a top-notch event that I will attend again. What I found quite intriguing was all the real-time tweeting…

The conference had people continually tweeting during each speaker’s presentation. These tweets displayed on gigantic screens located adjacent to the speaker’s presentation screens.

Realizing I have a little ADD, but I found this to be distracting. Moreover, having tweets reiterate what the speaker said or tweets on the room temperature seemed more like entertainment than value. (maybe that was the goal?)

In business, we must find the best way to utilize this media, add value, get people to think differently and create a relationship. This is done first by building trust through shared values, shared vision, assumed responsibility and delivering on promises.

So Batman, did we utilize Twitter in the best way possible? What do you think?

Could Toyota Salvage its Image with a Logo Refresh?

Toyota has beefed up their advertising in Q1 of 2010 with the hope of off setting some of the hot press surrounding their recalls. The automotive giant is still reeling from the recall of their Avalon, Camry, Highlander Hybrid, Highlander, Prius, Truck,
Corolla, Matrix, and Venza
 product lines. The consumer outcry has represented the collective voice of frustration and worry about how the company handled the cases of deaths related to these recalls.

Other industry defining companies have under gone logo rebrands to easy the public resentment and hostility. Wal-Mart, facing public scrutiny for their poor internal HR management and harmful environmental practices, decided to give their company image a face lift. They opted to ease the logo’s rich, deep blue for a softer shade of turquoise.

The militant blue star was transformed into a friendly 6 spoked yellow orb. This repositioning may have offset some negative association with the old brand, but the true test will be if Wal-mart can make the internal changes necessary to reflect their new brand image.

Now that the economy is seeing faint rays of light indicating that the recession has begun to reside, is it time to revisit your company logo? Do your customers or clients know that your company weathered the storm?

Trust in the market place will be built by those companies that advertise the message, “We are still here and going strong!”

Now is the time to tell your story!!! Don’t wait.

QR codes can track your direct mail

The QR code technology, created in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso-Wave, is revolutionizing the advertising marketplace on a global scale. You will see this technology all over Asia but it just starting to gain traction in the US market.

QR codes are a 2 dimensional bar code that enables the creator to embed a website address, phone number, standard HTML message or SMS message for mobile devices.

Consumers with any smart phone- BlackberryiPhoneDroid…etc. – download an app to read the QR code. Then they are enabled to take a picture of these bar codes anywhere (t-shirts, billboards, faxes, car magnets, etc.) and they are redirected to the medium of choice listed above.

Think of the possibilities…

1. Consumers looking to buy you product can scan your postcard and they are directed to your website (that is being tracked) and buy your product via their phone.

2. Post flyers advertising your home for sale that directs buyers to a more detailed listing on Remax.com.

3. Distribute your weekly coupon via text message to your database of 10,000 loyal and raving fans!

4. Enable tech savvy consumers to scan your bar codes on your billboard in Times Square, London, Tokyo, Singapore or Rome with the simple snap of their mobile camera.

Why don’t you give it a try for yourself? Go to Google and search which mobile app will work for your phone. Then start snapping away!

Still have more questions? Give us a call: 630-587-6000.

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The Valcort Group

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