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EPISODE 7: Know Your Values

by Nov 10, 2020Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • Two important questions to ask yourself
  • How to stay accountable 
  • How values show up in every aspect of your business
  • Making sure you’re staying true to what you value
  • How your giving ties in to your message {and your values}
  • Looking at your business model

What are your values? Did you know that your values play an important role, not only in your content, but also in the way you run your business? 

We’re not business coaches, so we won’t get into systems and processes, but at a high level, we want to talk about how to integrate your values into every aspect of your business, from customer service to contract language. {And, obvs, in your content!}

Also, what do you do if your values change? It’s important to not just write down your values and put them on a plaque somewhere but rather to make sure you are living those out in your business. 

In this episode, we’ll look at:

  • Two important questions to ask yourself
  • How to stay accountable 
  • How values show up in every aspect of your business
  • Making sure you’re staying true to what you value
  • How your giving ties in to your message {and your values}
  • Looking at your business model {+ adjusting as needed}

If you aren’t sure what your values are, one place to start is by looking at the causes that are close to your heart. In fact, many of you already have a give-back strategy, which can be very helpful in defining those things that really matter to you most. 

Did you know we are big proponents of talking about your giving in your content? Many entrepreneurs shy away from that because they feel like they’re bragging, but when you let your audience know that they are making a difference just by doing business with you, that’s a win! 

 

If you’d like to dig deeper into identifying your values and implementing them in your content, check out our blog post, The Value in Values: Building Client Loyalty. Then tag us on Instagram and let us know your top 3! @northstarmessaging

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality driven content that connects and converts. I'm Jessie.

Marie:
And I'm Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging and Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates, from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands, and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.
Hello, and welcome to episode seven. We're going to be talking all about knowing your values today. And this is something that's near and dear to me. I started off in the nonprofit space, and so this is hugely important. It was something that we talked about all the time. We were talking about our ... Within grant proposals, which is what I was writing all the time. And it was very much top of mind, but I think for a lot of businesses, this is something that maybe gets discussed here or there, and then there's this beautiful values list, and maybe it shows up in your website or it's there in some kind of annual business review type thing. And then it just kind of goes into the proverbial drawer, and we don't necessarily think about how do we integrate it. How do we really wrap this into the fabric of the business? And so that's what today is all about.
Now, caveat is we're not business coaches here and we're not necessarily able to talk about all the systems and processes and everything, but we do want to talk on the high level about how your values are decided and how they're messaged through integration.

Jessi:
Yeah. And also how content can come into play. Because even though you may not write content directly to your values where you're saying, "I'm writing piece of content about this value," which you may do, but you may not. Those values show up through your content.
So let's talk about a couple of questions that can help you define your values. You may have done this already, you may have done values exercises, but these questions are still valuable because it's always important to reevaluate those values, make sure they're still aligned, and update them if necessary. So the two questions that we like to pose are, "What are you and your business unwilling to compromise? What won't you compromise within your business?" And the other side of that coin is, "What do you stand for?" So I'll use an example from our business. One thing that we stand for, and one thing that we believe and one thing that we have said multiple times on multiple occasions is that we believe that there is no such thing as an apolitical business. That's something that we have decided we stand for, and it is something that we'll talk a little bit more about later in the episode, but you'll see periodically, not often in our content, but periodically, and something that we have integrated into our business.

Marie:
Exactly. And so that's something that we're unwilling to compromise on, and we talking about this idea of silence sends a message, a political message as well, when there's something going on in the world or a human rights message. So if you see something like that for us, that's very actually on brand for us because it's part of our values.
So step number one is really knowing your values going through those questions. And we're going to reiterate them at the end of the episode, because sneak peek, that's going to be your homework. But we also want to talk about how you integrate it. And honestly, this is every bit as important as deciding what they are, because if you don't integrate them, they're just sitting in the drawer.
So two things. Again, number one is talk about it. Tell your team your values. If they don't know your values, they're wandering, confused with no direction. Tell your coach or accountability partner, tell your mastermind friends, tell your colleagues. Whoever it is that can help you stay accountable, tell them. Because A, the more you talk about it, the more you understand it, the more you feel convicted about it, and B, the more they can help you stay accountable and say, "Hang on. I think there's a mismatch here." They can help hold you accountable to what you've decided your values are.
And secondly, it's about looking at how those values really impact all aspects of the business. And certainly one of them that we are passionate about is the content. But there's more than that. So let's dive into the content first. Yeah, Jesse?

Jessi:
Yeah, definitely. And I want to circle quickly back to what you were talking about with the team, because for those of you who are listening who do have a team, I think that this is such an important point to emphasize, because when we're a solopreneur and running our own show, we live our values. And often we don't really think about them as much, and we can kind of get away with that a little bit more because we are touching every piece of the business. And so we're running it through a values filter often subconsciously. But once you start expanding your business and building a team, the people on your team may not have that same filter. And so making sure that everyone has the context of, these are the values of the business represents, and this is how the business represents them, is super important to make sure that everyone is on the same page and using the same filter.
So we're talking about how they impact aspects of the business, specifically pieces of communication. We want to look at how are we getting our messages out there? Whether it's our normal content that happens as the business roles. Whether it's blog posts, social, email, whatever it happens to be. Where do those values show up? If it's in a lead nurturing sequence and things that are, I want to say in air quotes, "Set it and forget it," because it's never really forget it, and this is why. Because you want to make sure it's always representing your values. That it's always being iterated upon an updated so that it really, really ties into that value statement or statements that you have as a business.
And so it's part the communication that you send out regularly, but it's also the communication that you send out when something irregular happens. When there's a crisis, when there's something that changes in your industry, when there's something that you want to take a stand for or against, that kind of goes back to the innovation story we talked about a couple of episodes again. Often that piece of innovation ties into your values. So thinking about not necessarily, I value in our case, for example, not being apolitical, having actual political views and beliefs and being human beings and not business automatons. That's a hard word to say. But our content may not be specifically about that most of the time. 90% of the time we're talking about content creation, we're talking about copywriting, we're talking about brand voice. But when something comes up where it requires a political response, and we feel compelled to have that response, we can run it through the filter of, "Does this align with our brand values? Yes, it does. So we are going to issue a response." And if we get kick back on that, we also know, "Okay well, this is our stance as a business. We've written it down, we've said it, our team is aware of it. If you are not necessarily on board with it, that's fine. You may not be a good fit for us."

Marie:
And too, when somebody raises a valid concern, that is an opportunity for us to go back in and reevaluate. Because we're not all the founts of all wisdom on this planet. And so somebody may bring up something and it's like, "Oh man, I didn't think about that." I am really proud of what I was trying to say with this, but someone else has helped me realize that I'm actually out of alignment with my values over here. So I actually need to change course a little bit. So it's not just like if somebody disagrees with it that we necessarily throw them out of our lives, or say, "Bye Felicia." We're actually considering it when it makes sense to do so.

Jessi:
Yeah, definitely. So looking at other areas where your values have a direct impact and show up in the way that things are organized, in the way that you have systems and procedures in place. This isn't necessarily directly content related, but it's important to mention, because these are areas where your values can show up. So things like the accessibility of your content. If it's important to you, and if one of your values is making sure that what you are teaching and what you are sharing is reachable, readable, accessible, then is that actually showing up in the systems that are running your business? Do you have captions on your videos? Do you have transcripts available? Have you thought about the different needs of different segments of your audience and put a system in place to support those needs?
A lot of times the things that we do to support our values are systems that once they're put in place, they're happening behind the scenes. It's not necessarily that every single time we put out a piece of content, this podcast episode for example, we're making sure that we're thinking about, "Oh, is this accessible?" because we thought about it at the beginning. And we said, "Okay, these are the standards of accessibility we want to put on the podcast," and it just happens behind the scenes, so that it's always up to our personal value code.

Marie:
Exactly. Another implementation or integration area that you may want to look at as your onboarding or off-boarding process for your clients. So for instance, if one of your values is personal touch, but you also know that you're spending way too long just developing these super personalized contracts, or onboarding paperwork, or whatever it is, you need to find a solution in the middle. So then it's a matter of taking a look at that process and seeing, "How can I automate it," and also maybe how can I prepare the client maybe on a sales call to say, "Okay, well if this feels like a good fit, here are the next steps that you can expect." And that way, even if it is an automated system, they still feel like you care and you're a human being who's walking them through the process. Same thing with your hiring process actually.

Jessi:
Yeah. And your contracts with the clients and customers. I think this is the sort of thing that really shows up in so many different areas, and it can be worked in. So you have your client on an off boarding process, the contracts that you're sending them, the hiring process if you're building a team, customer service. So if someone comes to you with an issue or with the need for clarification, how do your brand values show up in that customer service exchange? Do you value quick and timely responses? And do you have a system in place to allow that to happen? Because if you don't and all of a sudden it's taking one or two weeks to get a response, then there's something out of alignment there. And so these are the things that you can look at.
The other thing, and I'll let Marie talk about this one since she's got the nonprofit background, but the other piece is your giveback strategy if you have one.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. I could probably talked about this for 10 years, but what I want to leave you with is just a small nugget here, to say that if giving back as a part of your business model, first of all, yay. That's awesome. And second of all, there is message about your values inherent in that. And it's not just about whether you give, but it's how you give, who you give to or what organizations you give to. How does that tie in with whatever. One of those stories. It could be your origin story, it could be what it is that you do. Your why story. So take a look at how the giving back actually does affect your message about your values.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I'd add to that, it's also about why you're giving back. Because there's a difference between a business that's giving back because it feels like it has to, and a business that is giving back because there is a cause that they're really passionate about, and that they really want to support. And so really, I think why is such a powerful question. And I think you could look at this, even going back up to the questions we mentioned at the beginning, what are you unwilling to compromise and what do you stand for, you could take your answer as a question deeper and say, "Why? Why are you unwilling to compromise on that? Why do you stand for that?" Because that gives you a little bit more insight into, this is not just important to me, but this is why it's important to me. This is why it needs to show up in my business. Not just because some guru out there told me that I need to have the value statement, because any business coach that you hire, any consultant that you work with will probably tell you the values are important to have in your business. But the why behind them is really the important part. Knowing that this is not just a list to shove in the drawer, but actually something to live and breathe by in my business.

Marie:
Exactly. The final piece of where you can look at integrating your values is really pretty high level, which is your business model as a whole. So do your values actually align with your business model? If they don't, then that's an opportunity for you to look at how you can make changes to that business model, or you can evaluate, "Does this value actually really matter to me?" It is okay if you change your values over time. This is normal. This is a part of growth. It may mean that something is more important to you now, and something else is falling away a little bit. Or maybe you've found a more efficient way to make that happen. So please don't think that you're a terrible person for taking something off of your values list. That is not true. You're making that decision mean something about you as a person when it doesn't necessarily, but it really does matter how your values and your business model interact with each other.

Jessi:
Yeah. So let's dig into your homework for this week. We want to go back to those questions. What are you unwilling to compromise and what do you stand for? And we want to encourage you to do a little journaling around your answers to those questions. It doesn't need to be perfect. It's really just what comes to mind for you. And if you want to take it a step deeper, talk about the why. Why that's important to you, why that's what came to mind for you. And then once you have that list, you can use your answer to actually create it as a values list. Or if you have an older one to reevaluate and see if it has evolved at all. This is a great first step without necessarily having to dig into the integration piece just yet. Because you have to know where you're going before you start incorporating the integration.
And so your homework is to just do a check-in on your values, make sure that they're up to date, make sure that they feel like you, and make sure that you really understand the reasoning behind them.

Marie:
Exactly. Integration is probably a lifelong or business long process, and so it's never going to be fully done. There's going to be more layers to unpack and uncover and tweak and develop as you go through this process. So this is a really great starting place. And honestly, if you want bonus points, I would say put this on your calendar for every six to 12 months to do it again, because it's that valuable.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, good luck with the homework, and can't wait to hear what you come up with.

Marie:
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice podcast. Make sure to visit our website, Northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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