hen I was a kid, I used to watch TV with my grandpa. Contrary to my parents, who tended to leave the TV running in the background, Grandpa would actively mute the sound throughout commercial breaks. As a child, I found this habit annoying. Only later in life did I understand why he did it.
Advertising is relentless and it can be obnoxious.
We are bombarded daily by the sheer volume of content being pushed at us. After years of over-exposure, we’ve become accustomed to tuning most of it out. Our finely-tuned b.s. filters are constantly running on high alert, a survival instinct which generally serves us well.
We feel the need to protect ourselves because much of the messaging being shoved in our faces is hype. Hype is self-serving, smug, and exhausting. Hype often leads to disappointment. Hype causes the grumpy old man in us to shut down and stop listening.
In this environment, how can you cut through the noise and get your message past Grandpa’s overused mute button?
The answer lies in abandoning hype and delivering the truth.
The idea is simple. Most people would rather learn something about you than be subjected to hype. Instead of shouting at people about how great you are, focus on what is meaningful and undeniably valuable to them about your brand. Educate them about your products and/or services and inspire them to take action.
One key difference between these two approaches is your messaging will be focused on your clients and customers instead of being focused on yourself. Your voice becomes much more captivating when you shine the spotlight on your audience and their needs.
The other major difference is you’ll be conveying your brand’s core values through compelling and truthful statements. This is the most effective way to resonate with your audience and build lasting relationships with them. If people believe they share values with your company, they will stay loyal to you.
This is just one of many ways you’ll benefit by holding your values at the center of your business. Let’s begin by getting to know yours.
This part is relatively straightforward. Figure out what is important to you that you want to convey to your audience. What do you bring to the table that will resonate with them?
Using my brand as an example, my core values are:
While there is much more that I personally value, these four drive everything I do and guide every step I take with my business. They sum up everything I want to bring to my clients.
It works the same way for you.
Dive deep and figure out what’s most important to you. Don’t just list every positive attribute you have. You need to determine which of your values your audience can relate to in a meaningful way. Refine your list until you have three or four strong values. You’ll know when you have them because they’ll feel 100% “right” to you.
Now that you have these in mind, you can identify the simple, compelling truth about your brand that will help you forge a meaningful connection with your audience.
Your brand’s truth will come directly from your core values. Remember, your aim is to educate and inspire your audience about the specific problems you and your products and services will solve for them. No hype here, only the truth.
Ask yourself: “What can I say about my brand that isn’t self-serving? What can I tell my audience that isn’t subjective, or debatable by my competitors?”
Using my brand again as an example, my truth can be seen all over my website and social media:
These are my brand’s core values, conveyed as the truth. They’re all statements that (calmly) explain to people why they need me. I speak directly to them without yelling or making warrantless claims of being the “best”. My messaging is focused less on myself and more on the value I bring to you. Your truth will do the same for you, and your audience will respond accordingly.
This connection is the main benefit knowing your values will bring you, but there are many others.
Think of your values as the foundation your business stands upon. They come first, holding up every other aspect of your brand, including your brand pillars (your voice and your visual identity). Once you know them, everything falls into place and you gain incredible clarity.
The benefits are numerous. You’ll always be on-message, bringing a consistent voice to everything you do. You’ll embody a distinct brand identity that differentiates you from your competitors. Collaborating with partners or employees becomes much easier, as you’ll have an established operational guideline to point to.
Not only will you communicate more effectively, you’ll also have steady ground to stand on when making all of the tough decisions that come along with owning a business. You can always take a step back and ask yourself: “Does this fall in line with my core values?” If it doesn’t fit, don’t do it.
Most importantly, you’ll get your message past that b.s. filter and create meaningful connections with your audience. You’ll grow a loyal following of people who love what you do and recommend you to their friends and family.
You still probably wouldn’t reach Grandpa, but you’ll be helping to create a future where mute button-abuse is a distant memory.
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