ISSUE 54 ISSN 1712-468
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Values...More Than Words on a Piece of Paper

A scantily clad woman is lying on top of a scantily clad man.

Whose advertisement comes to mind?

A month ago, you might not have known, but chances are good that today you know it s an ad for Abercrombie & Fitch. That company has made headlines due to its CEO s comment about the type of customer Abercrombie & Fitch wants in their stores  thin and beautiful people.

Mike Jefferies now claims his statement was taken out of context. After consumers flooded Abercrombie s Facebook page, Jefferies offered the following:

While I personally take exception to the way Abercrombie & Fitch choose to market their apparel with scantily clad young adults, I do have to take off my hat to them for something that many failing companies don t take into consideration knowing their niche market.

Jefferies was bang on the money in pointing out why most companies fail;  Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don t alienate anybody, but you don t excite anybody, either.

In reality, that s what marketing is about: Use my product or my service, and you will be better than the rest.

Most companies fail because they try to be all things to all people. It s simply impossible to do that. The consultants, coaches, and other professionals who succeed have carved a market for themselves and made themselves known as the guru in that market. You don t hear of a doctor practicing medicine one day and law the next. It s the specialists in those fields who make the significant dollars.

Balance is required however, and Jefferies touches on it in his words above. That balance comes through understanding the values of your customers and the community where you do business. If you don t understand the core values of your community you end up in the same situation as Mike Jefferies with society protesting what was otherwise a good marketing plan.

Many companies focus on technical competencies but often forget the underlying competencies that make their companies run smoothly core values the company s identity . . . its principles, beliefs, and philosophy.

Core values support the vision, shape the corporate culture, and reflect the essence of a company.

Establishing strong core values provides both internal and external advantages to a company.

  • Core values help companies in the decision-making processes. For example, if one of your core values is to stand behind the quality of your products, any products not reaching  the satisfactory standard are automatically eliminated.
  • Core values educate clients and potential customers about what the company is about and clarify the identity of the company. Especially in this competitive world, having a set of specific core values that  speak positively to the public is definitely an advantage.
  • Core values are becoming primary recruiting and retention tools. It is easy for job seekers to research companies. Job seekers are doing their homework on the identities of the companies and weighing whether or not the companies hold the values the job seekers consider important.

! How do you even begin to sort out your core values as a company?

! How do you know which core values your employees deem critical in their lives?

CRG has created the Values Preference Indicator (VPI) to help individuals and companies come to grips with what they truly value.

The VPI is a simple yet powerful process to help gauge personal value preferences. This tool increases people s self-awareness and shows them how to gain a deeper understanding of the values that are most important to them.

The exercises in the VPI are designed so participants can systematically examine all the fundamental values for the purpose of learning about themselves and for possible group discussion.

The VPI can assist you to achieve the following:

  • Determine your personal and professional value preferences
  • Provide a process to help you prioritize your values
  • Confirm that what you THINK are your most important values really reflect what you actually value
  • Understand how all your interpersonal relationships are affected by your top values
  • Design a work/career life that best reflects your own values and needs
  • Outline a development plan to better align your life with the needs of your values
  • Create a specific plan to help you make values-based decisions
  • Make more intentional life choices
  • Establish where you can increase your fulfillment and purpose in life
  • Reduce conflict and increase harmony as others become aware of the needs and wants of your top values

With thousands of users over the years, the CRG VPI continues to amaze the high percentage of people who at first had no idea what their core values were, and then they realize that their values are not being represented in their life.

Through the VPI, people can see why they are living unfulfilled lives.

If you are struggling with your core values, let me suggest you take time to work through the CRG Values Preference Indicator. You can obtain a copy by going to this link

For today, here are my two positive take-aways from the Abercrombie & Fitch episode.

  • Have a clearly defined target market where you can become known as the guru.
  • Truly understand the values of the community and the people with whom you are interacting. Ensure that your message and your actions live up to those values.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, I was down in Seattle walking through some of the malls (actually, I was dutifully following my wife through the malls). They were busy with shoppers taking advantage of Memorial Day savings. What was noticeable though was the lack of customers inside the Abercrombie & Fitch stores. Unfortunately for Mike Jefferies, he forgot what people truly value.

Have you?



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