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The CEO’s new glasses (Lens of the Market)

The CEO’s new glasses (Lens of the Market)

One of the most difficult tasks in leadership is pointing the ship and keeping it focused every day, week, month and year, upon reaching a critical destination. To review: Having a clear understanding the values and vision of the organization (V of VALCORT) is essential for creating trust and getting others to join in the quest. Without clarity of this, people can’t understand your direction, buy-in, and invest their own passion, time and energy in accomplishing the vision. Without clarity...

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Assets (Marketing Assets)

Assets (Marketing Assets)

The core of growth is the ability to build and nurture trust.   The Four Stages of Trust is the blueprint to guide anyone into a high-trust relationship that creates change and fuels growth.  The Four Stages of Trust are: Shared Values Shared Vision Assumed Responsibility Always delivering on your promise In an organization, we will assume for the moment that we have established shared values with a customer, and following that  we have moved on to discuss and define a shared vision (the V...

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Are values an acquired taste?

Are values an acquired taste?

While I enjoy a cup of coffee every day, I know that I need to drink water. Water sustains life, coffee is a substitute, albeit a fine one. Growing up in my father’s house, tea was always the beverage of choice. Now I have to say, my first impression of a swig of coffee was bitter, harsh, strong. It wasn’t my “cup of tea.” But I soon learned that wooing my wife required daily conversation over coffee, bread and cheese. And I acquired a taste for it that continues with a daily morning cup w...

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The scent of a brand.

So you’re talking with a stranger and as you begin to talk, you realize the parallels in your life.  You were here, doing this.  He was in a different place doing something similar.  You attended this concert, and he attended the same event in a different city.  You share some of the same likes and preferences.  It’s amazing!

This values to values connection is deeply rooted as an intuitive part of our psyche.  It is a “scent” we give to others in conversation, appearance, mannerisms that allows people to quickly learn about us, connect and build friendships. And if these values go deep and wide, the connection can last a lifetime.  Of course, when we’re out of sync with another, you can’t leave the room fast enough.

We learn to trust another when the fundamental values we hold sync with another.  When they break down, we question, judge and limit the relationship.

Similarly, as a brand or organization, the values we project are revealed in our programs, products, our sales people, channel partners, our service reps, our communications, advertising, websites and social media—all hints to our customers and the broader world of who we REALLY are.

Managing these perceptions is ultimately the job of the CEO.  Trust in the company, its leaders, its vision of the future, and its investments in people, products, programs and innovation provide a “scent” and reveal the true heart of the company.  Prospects and customers may lock up and become a friend for life, or may not like what they observe and just purchase and move on.

The power to build lifelong customer advocates is based on the CEO’s values and his or her ability to articulate them and expected associated behaviors, drive them through the organization, out the door and engage customers with similar values on their front porch.

This is the power of connection -- the fundamental cornerstone of shared values that create trust and reliance between people, and create glue and advocacy between people and the brands they love.

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

Providing strategic marketing for measurable business growth.



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