If you went to business school, you probably learned to start a marketing strategy by analyzing your target market and competitors, then decided either to build on what’s been successful for others or try something completely different to stand out.
Sounds reasonable, no? And as dry as toast. Stop making toast.
Related: 5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand
What they don’t teach you in business school is how to create truly authentic marketing campaigns -- which always start with your core values. Your core values are what give meaning and purpose to what you do. Infused in your marketing, they are what attract your ideal clients - the people you’re meant to work with, who make you excited to get up each morning and who joyfully become your ambassadors.
Remember when Honey Maid featured same sex couples in its now iconic tv commercial? We saw, clear as day, the values of the company. We saw its purpose. It sparked controversy and, sadly, lost them a few customers. But it also sparked loyalty, support and devotion from a customer base that connected with their values.
For truly authentic marketing, don’t start with an external analysis. Start with an internal one. Start with you.
Determine your core values.
What principles matter most to you? Make sure they are clear and resonate with your inner truth. Think of people you admire. Why do you admire them? Choose three things to take on a year-long backpacking tour aside from survival basics. What are they? What frustrates you most and why?
Questions like these help you uncover your core values. If you’re struggling, here are 6 steps to determine your core values.
Align your marketing with your core values.
Your core values are your starting point for your marketing. They are the guiding principles for everything you put out there, from your website to your business cards. Consider your look and feel. What images, colors or words pop into your head when you think about your values?
My core values are real, brave and fun. When I think about fun, a bright fuschia comes to mind. So I chose that color for my website. I had professional photos taken and chose a smiling one that I felt reflected realness. I put it right on my fuschia homepage.
On to my tagline. “Orgasmically joyful” is a phrase that resonates with me. That took some bravery to put out there, but when I did, the most amazing clients who I love working with starting reaching out.
So instead of scouring the research on what attracts customers, consider what attracts you. Select colors and images that reflect who you are and what you have to offer the world. The words you write, the podcasts you record and the videos you post must all radiate with your voice -- your authenticity. Share your story, your lived experience and the wisdom you’ve gained -- your purpose.
Honey Maid didn’t tell a story to appeal to everyone. It told an authentic story that reflected their inner truth, and it resonated. By aligning your marketing to your values, people who resonate with your message will be attracted to you and will come to you and your business with ease. It’s only by being consistent with your values throughout your marketing that you will attract customers you love working with, and will create a meaningful business that you love.
As Apple’s Tim Cook said in his 2015 George Washington University graduation speech, “It’s about finding your values and committing to them. It’s about finding your North Star. It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.”
Question everything. Question yourself. Stop making toast. Make something great. Make something… you.