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Welcome to another episode of 7-Minute Marketing with Pam. My name is Pam Didner, and I am all about B2B, digital and content marketing. That’s what I do. And thank you for listening.

Every week, I’ll pick one marketing question and attempt to address it with actionable takeaways in 7 minutes or less. So send me your questions. I want to help you take on your marketing challenges.

This week, I want to share something I read from the book of Verne Harnish, “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.” This is a how-to book. Verne shares templates and specific processes that you can follow when you grow your company from 1 person to 50 people to 100 and more. At each stage of the growth, you need to make significant changes in people, strategy, processes, and tools. If you are growing your company and your processes and tools are setting you back, this can be a great book to get ideas on how to put your hiring and internal processes back on track. By the way, I am not affiliated with Verne. I just like his book and I thought I would share with you.

There is one thing he mentioned in his book that caught my eyes. He talked about the importance of establishing “core values” for your company before any strategic planning or even funding pitches. Core values will guide how people behave and how the company is run. Most importantly, core values will discreetly nourish your corporate culture when you not looking.

The perception is that setting core values requires a lengthy discovery process, soul-searching, and a big budget. In his book, Verne disagrees that this process needs to be lengthy or spend a big budget to do that. He uses a fun and quick process called the “Mission to Mars.” I really like this process.

Here are the steps:

  1. Gather a group of employees or managers across the company. Or you can use your senior management team.
  2. Ask the group to pretend to be a team of Martian anthropologists studying American businesses. Each group member needs to come up with five employees – that are not in the room – and you will send them to Mars. Martian anthropologists don’t speak English and don’t know PowerPoint. They can only observe your employee ambassadors through their actions. With these parameters, which five employees would best convey the good things about your company, just through their actions?
  3. The key here is to not over-engineer or over-think the list. There is no need to find people who present themselves well professionally or to find a balanced team that represents each job function. Just choose five employees who would best give the Martians a sense of what’s good about your company.
  4. Each has five names on their list – no more, no less. Go around the room and determine the top three vote-getters. (Side note: Don’t let the employees’ names get out of the room. This is not about the performance review. The names are just a means to drive discussion to create core values).
  5. Start with the employees who received the most mentions. Initiate a conversation with these people. Who are they? How do they go about their work? What would customers and co-workers say about them? Why are they important or valuable to the company?
  6. As you jot down what’s being said, you’ll start to see themes and patterns emerge. Don’t worry about the words that pop up that are less polished. The goal is to know what the “real core values” of your organization are.
  7. As you get closer to finding the right words and ideas to describe your company’s core values, the energy level of the room will start to rise. The goosebumps on your arm will tell you when you hit the right core values. You will know them when you see the words.
  8. Then, it takes some wordsmithing to get the concepts hammered into keywords.

Voila! You have your core values.

I love his process. It’s easy, quick, powerful and cost-effective for companies who don’t have a big budget and a lot of time to do it. I can ultimately see this exercise working if it’s facilitated well.

It may seem that a core value creation exercise has nothing to do with marketing per se, but core values will indirectly affect the tone and manner of your writing and guide the content creation, especially in telling a story about your company.

So that’s the wrap for today’s podcast.

That is this week’s 7-minute Marketing with Pam.  If you have a question for me, you can reach me pamdidner.com or @pamdidner.

Thank you for listening, until next week.

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