The makings of a different type of company

whiteduckI sat in my office this morning writing down a list of what makes our company different from our competitors.  After a couple of minutes writing things like “quality, rapid response, and expertise in…” I quickly realized that I wasn’t writing down anything that truly differentiated us from our competition… or Visa, AOL, or HP for that matter.

After thinking about what really sets a company apart I started a second list focusing on what differentiates several successful individuals in our company from others in the industry.  This time I came up with a much different list that noted such things as: honesty, integrity, openness, understanding, humility, and a desire to help others. 

We often use the phrase “what goes around comes around” when we see good things happen to good people (or bad things happen to bad people); what we don’t often make note of is that this same rule applies to business and to companies. Successful companies in virtually every industry are building corporate cultures that embrace a moral centered workplace and values driven marketing. 

The Result

What goes around comes around: Businesses thrive when they provide solutions to problems with honesty and integrity rather than serving the ‘almighty’ dollar.

A Values Based Business Marketing Approach

I have seen the remergence of a refreshing way of doing business that is nothing less than exciting.  It is the idea that being simply honest with your clients is no longer enough to separate you in the crowded marketplace.  Rather companies are beginning to embrace the idea of ‘going the extra mile’ for their clients, the concept that I like to refer to as Values Based Business.  The exciting thing about a Values Based Business approach is that it generates a marketing mechanism that cannot be stopped.  I have seen companies that use a Values Based Business Marketing Approach enjoy rich profits, extremely loyal clientele, and a satisfaction that only doing a great job can give.

So, what is a Values Based Business Marketing Approach

A Values Based Business marketing approach is running your company not to make money or to grow, but specifically to help other people.  It is the idea that, by running your business with integrity and honesty, faithfully serving your customer instead of your wallet or your own interests, you will experience true success.  Let me clarify true success here: more profit, less hassle, a peaceful satisfaction every day on your way home from work, and a good nights sleep (this last one is for all the business owners that haven’t had a good night of sleep in years).

What it looks like

Values Based Businesses do several things that most profit and growth oriented businesses have a hard time swallowing.  Here are just a few examples:

  1. They always do something extra for free:  I used to go to an auto shop that would always do something unexpected for me free of charge.  They rotated my tires, replaced light bulbs, oiled squeaky doors; the list goes on and on.  In return can you guess what I did?  I never had my vehicle serviced at another shop and told everyone I knew to take his or her cars there.
  2. Take on pro-bono work: Vales Based Businesses help out non-for-profits, low-income families, and even their everyday clients.  They do it because it is right and because they really care.  Finally, when they do it, they treat the non-paying client just as good as the paying client.
  3. They treat every client like a first class client: Taking calls and returning e-mails promptly is just the tip of the iceberg. Values Based Businesses see what their clients need and help them to achieve it, even if it is out of their scope of work.   

The Result

By putting others first you are beginning the process of controlling your own destiny.  Values Based Businesses leverage their entire business as a marketing tool that uses referrals, recommendations, references, and relationships as their primary marketing vehicle. This allows a company to increase profitability and to grow far beyond that of a typical money and growth focused company.

Firms that practice this philosophy have strong client bonds based on trust and respect.  They have a client base that refuses to work with anyone else because it is a known fact that you will always go the extra mile and never compromise the customer relationship. They have employees that are excited about coming to work to do something good. They have managers that choose what work they want to do and who they want to work for.  Perhaps developing your company as a Values Based Business, focusing on others first, will allow you to achieve the success you have always hoped for.

A final note: Isn’t it amazing that when you change your focus to people instead of the bottom line, you begin to experience the success that you were looking for when you were focused on the bottom line.