Noetic Consultants Training Marketing Competencies

Top Competencies Where Marketers Need Training

“What are the top competencies where marketers need training?”

The leader of a large marketing organization recently asked me this. It’s a great question. Not only did she seek to prioritize effort and dollars, she also asked the right question. Rather than focusing on the most important competencies to master, she wanted to know the right competencies to train for.

If you’re unsure about where your marketers need training, use this simple WHO-WHAT-HOW construct to help you comprehensively assess their needs:

WHO:

Do your marketers know how to mine data and insights in order to understand your audiences and how best to connect with them? To think through this, ask yourself:

  • Do they know how and where to access the data?
  • Do they regularly make a point to do so?
  • Do they know how to cut through data density to extract the important takeaways?

Although your organization may have an analytics team who provides data and insights, your marketers must accurately connect with their findings to uncover how relevant they are to your target audience.

WHAT:

Do your marketers know how to create a tight, strategic brief to meet the specific need of a given campaign? Ask yourself:

  • Do the briefs I see (or author) inspire me?
  • Does our team write focused briefs?
  • If applicable: Does our agency think our briefs are clear and inspiring?
  • Do we often suffer rounds of creative review that lead to revisiting the focus of (or lack of) the brief?

In order to unleash the creativity needed to shape the most effective message for your target audience, your team must start with a great brief to achieve campaign goals.

HOW:

Do your marketers give effective creative feedback and direction? To think about this, ask yourself:

  • Is our creative as powerful as it can be?
  • Are our marketers primarily making executional comments about the work they review?
  • Do we use the brief as a critical tool to determine if the creative is delivering on the strategy?

In addition to creating a more effective campaign, knowing how to give feedback also helps build trust and collaboration on the team.

For the most part, core competencies can—and should—be learned on the job. Due to the fast pace of change in our industry, even the most process-oriented organizations are hard pressed to have their marketers excel in certain areas. For this reason, they require overt training efforts to kick start the competency.

Once you’ve considered the WHO-WHAT-HOW issues above, let’s talk through how to develop a comprehensive training program to address them. It would be my pleasure to help.


Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic teaches engaging and effective live and live webinar-based courses on marketing topics such as:

  • Customer-centric marketing
  • Writing effective Marketing Briefs
  • How to Review Creative effectively
  • Creative problem solving for Marketers
  • And more

Our courses help marketing departments provide a strong marketing foundation for younger employees while providing new skills or refresher courses to more seasoned employees.

We would be delighted to discuss one or more of our marketing trainings with you.

goal without plan is just wish

Goals that achieve a greater sense of accomplishment in 2017

Now that you are recharged after the holiday break, consider thinking about (or re-thinking) your organization’s 2017 goals and how you will achieve them. Do you have a good plan in place for the year? Do you feel stuck or vague on what you are striving to achieve? If you feel that YOU are clear, are you sure that those who report to you feel the same way?

Goal setting is all about knowing where you want to go, and charting the steps to get there. Whether you manage a large organization or a small one, you undoubtedly have goals that you want to achieve. Here are six steps to help you set goals and create the steps needed to achieve them.

1. Create a hearty list of struggles you would like to address.
If you have a team, consider creating the list with them. Doing so will help everyone be invested from the start. Once the struggles are noted, narrow the list to 7 or 8 by having each team member vote for their top three. This narrowed list will become the basis for the goals you will set for the year.

2. Create S.M.A.R.T yearly goals to address the 7–8 struggles.

Craft goals using the S.M.A.R.T. format

Craft goals using the S.M.A.R.T. format

Each goal should be a direct response to a struggle, and written using the “S.M.A.R.T.” format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely). For example, an “un-smart” goal might read, “Create a new training program.” A S.M.A.R.T. version of this might be, “Create a social media training program that will launch by Q3 this year.” The S.M.A.R.T. format lets the team know what “done” means when the goal has been achieved.

3. Brainstorm “bite-sized” quarterly goals.

Brainstorm with team members

Brainstorm with team members

List the actions that are necessary to achieve the yearly goal in chronological order. Then determine which of those actions will be realistic to implement within the three-month periods leading up to when the yearly goal should be achieved. Apply the S.M.A.R.T. format to the actions to create quarterly “bite-sized” goals. Using our same example, the training program’s quarterly goal might be, “Complete an assessment of social media skills and needs of the team by the end of March.” Like the struggles list, consider creating the list of actions across all four quarters of the year with your team members.

4. Assign quarterly goals to your team members.
When doing this, you may want to first ask each member which goal(s) they feel best suited to lead, and let their opinion help drive the decision. Consider that it may be best to have different people lead different yearly goals each quarter. This enables you to take advantage of the breadth and depth of your team’s skill sets, and could help generate a collective sense of success across the team.

5. Hold weekly check-ins.
Spend 10–15 minutes with each team member weekly to check in on their progress against their quarterly goals. This is important to ensure accountability and to give them the opportunity to ask for help if they aren’t progressing. The entire team could—and should—be leveraged to brainstorm how to move forward. But the person leading the quarterly goal is responsible for ensuring that action happens week to week.

6. Conduct quarterly meetings.

Conduct quarterly reviews to track progress

Conduct quarterly reviews to track progress

Meet with each team member toward the end of the quarter to assess quarterly progress toward achieving the yearly goal. This is also a good time to review (or recalibrate) the next quarter’s goals. If you have crafted the yearly and quarterly goals using S.M.A.R.T., determining if the goals are “done” or “not done” should be easy. Although achieving every yearly or quarterly goal may not be completely within a team member’s control, significant progress should be visible after each three-month period.

Good planning is all about knowing where you want to go and charting out the steps to get there. It’s not too late for your organization to create and follow a plan that will guide you to greater success in 2017!


Nancie Ruder Noetic Consultants

Nancie Ruder


Noetic Consultants knows that your ability to articulate your strategic vision then translate it into action—defines your path forward and, ultimately, your success. We provide the experience, guidance and know-how to focus your team and engage them in a collaborative, forward-thinking manner. We can work with you to facilitate structuring your annual strategic plans, setting your organization’s yearly, and much more.

 

 

Stories as Sales Tools: Noetic Training Workshop

Stories as Sales Tools: Noetic Training Workshop

It’s official: our brains love a good story. In fact, compelling stories have the power to change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors… but most of us aren’t confident in our ability to craft and tell stories that will move our businesses and careers forward. This can become a serious deficit, since career development involves convincing colleagues to support our initiatives.

Luckily, storytelling can be learned. Noetic developed “Craft a Story to Sell Your Idea,” a training workshop that provides tools and step-by-step directions for crafting powerful stories that will make you more effective in your work.

Recently presented by Noetic president Nancie Ruder at the 4A’s 2016 Stratfest in New York, this training workshop can help you and your team raise your skill level at selling initiatives internally, gaining buy-in and support from peers and superiors, and launching products and services to new audiences. Contact  info@noeticconsultants.com and mention storytelling training to learn more.

Webinar-Training-Done-Right

Webinar Training Done Right: What to Look for When Hiring a Trainer

Webinar trainings can combine the best of both live and online learning. Trainees get to interact with a live trainer who makes learning fun and memorable. Corporate Learning departments save considerable money on travel, minimize meeting expenses and conserve the precious resource of employee time. Unfortunately, webinar training is difficult to do well.

Learning via webinar is inherently a passive experience. This means that your trainer and training materials need to work very hard to engage and reengage trainees sitting at their desks in front of computers. We have learned a lot about how to do this well over the past five years and would like to offer corporate learning leaders this guidance for how to hire an excellent webinar trainer.

In order to gauge how effective a trainer and her training material will be, first request a sample of her work in short video form or ask to sit in on a live webinar training. Here’s what you should look for when vetting your potential trainer’s work:

  1. A great trainer NEVER reads words on the screen that her audience can read at the same time. Why? Slides filled with text read out loud by a trainer offer a guaranteed trip to Dullsville.
    • Effective trainers are first and foremost practiced speakers who know how to keep their audience’s attention. Furthermore, a great trainer, even if she in reality is reading a script, will have rehearsed enough in advance to be able to present the material in a comfortable and conversational way. Trainers who let their personalities shine through gain an invaluable rapport with trainees.
  1. Effective training webinars are interactive.
    • To keep trainees’ attention and to make sure that they’re learning, the trainer must keep the audience “talking” and providing feedback OFTEN. Good trainers employ every interactive capability that webinar platforms offer. Engaging with polls, chats, raising hands and whiteboard input all keep trainees wide awake, reinforce important points and cement learning.
    • Look for storytelling techniques that keep trainees wondering what will happen next. If a trainer can weave one interesting narrative illustrating the material throughout the training, this can be very effective at piquing and maintaining trainee interest. Short stories woven throughout will also stimulate emotional interest along with intellectual curiosity.
  1. Onscreen visual engagement is key!
    • Static, unmoving slides are easy to tune out and ignore. Effective training webinars bring movement to each and every slide to stimulate the visual processing area of trainees’ brains. When we want to make a point more memorable, we animate it in some way. This doesn’t mean that we use every cheesy animation technique in the PowerPoint toolkit: we don’t. But we do get and keep our trainee’s attention with images and short text blocks that appear, fly in, pulse and radiate.
  1. An effective trainer will offer fresh thinking.
    • Good trainers should surprise you. Their scripts and training decks should contain material you hadn’t thought of, presented in ways you haven’t seen before. If a presentation has a “been there, done that” feel to you, your trainees will surely tune it out.

The next time you engage a trainer or training company to develop a single training or an entire curriculum, keep these guidelines in mind. We’re confident that they will help you and your company train effectively while keeping your trainees’ happy too.


Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic teaches engaging and effective live and live webinar-based courses on marketing topics such as:

  • Customer-centric marketing
  • Writing effective Marketing Briefs
  • How to Review Creative effectively
  • Creative problem solving for Marketers
  • And more

Our courses help marketing departments provide a strong marketing foundation for younger employees while providing new skills or refresher courses to more seasoned employees.

We would be delighted to discuss one or more of our marketing trainings with you.

Is Your Brand Portfolio a Mess? You’re Not Alone.

Marketers typically fall into brand portfolio management “after the fact”:  you’re tasked with overseeing several brands—developed internally or via acquisition—but they don’t form a coherent whole. Perhaps most of your products or services share your parent company’s name but those acquired over the years do not? Or, conversely, your parent company has taken a “house of brands” approach to its portfolio (similar to Procter & Gamble) and developed many brands over the years that have become unwieldy and difficult to manage?

At the end of the day, all of the brands compete for your company’s marketing dollars. Some may even compete with each other for customers. How do you bring order to this messy situation in order to maximize your marketing resources?

Consider this example: Noetic recently completed work for a non-profit healthcare provider that had a strong brand but had grown over the years by merging with and “bolting on” other organizations with similar missions. Some of these organizations were subbranded under the parent’s name (creating very long, unwieldy names), while others maintained their independent existences (thereby losing the opportunity for joint fundraising and messaging). The CMO knew that she needed to bring order to her house before she could continue to grow.

Here are some of the questions we asked the organization’s leaders:
  • Are your resources deep enough to support several brands? How many?
  • Is each brand distinct enough to warrant its own existence?
  • Will you lose target customers if you phase out subbrands (but not the products or services associated with them)?
  • Will you experience MORE pain maintaining subbrands or phasing them out?
  • What opportunities does restructuring your brand architecture create for your organization?

After conducting internal research and holding a brand workshop with key managers, we helped the organization come up with a plan: those subbrands whose target audiences overlapped most with the parent brand would be phased out over time and ultimately be branded with the parent organization. One subbrand serving teens that had built up years of equity and credibility with this audience would maintain its separate existence. Today, the organization is moving forward with clarity and purpose.

Most portfolio management dilemmas are challenges you happen upon after the fact or you inherit from those before you. If you find yourself with a messy brand portfolio, know that you are in good company. With some effort, creating a hard-working architecture that makes sense and works FOR you rather than against you is within your reach.


NNancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300oetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

The 5 Deadly Sins of Brief Writing

The brief is the cornerstone of any customer-centric B2B or B2C marketing effort. It’s where objectives, messaging, target audience, customer insights, metrics and channel approach come together in one key document that will keep everyone on track.

But let’s be honest. Writing a brief isn’t always easy! And writing a brief brief (pun intended) is even harder.

It takes some time and strategic thinking to know what is important to include…and what is not. Since the brief needs to be something your team will actually read, it should be clear, insightful and succinct. After reading it, every person should be on the same page about what the marketing effort needs to achieve.

In our experience there are several pitfalls that trip marketers up when they write briefs. We call these the “5 Deadly Sins of Brief Writing.” On your path to a powerful, succinct and motivating brief, here are the “sins” that you should steer clear of:

  • Gluttony: Are you putting too much in the brief? Are you “kitchen-sinking,” so you don’t have to decide what is important…and what isn’t? Could you be more focused and single minded in how you communicate?
  • Sloth: Are you crafting the brief as quickly as possible just to get through it and meet a deadline? Are you putting as much strategic thought into it as you need to?
  • Hubris: Are you crafting the brief single handedly, without consulting or collaborating with key partners?
  • Pride: Have you received feedback from key partners, but aren’t acting on it to improve the brief? Are you thinking that you know best?
  • Envy: Are you wishing you could work on a more exciting project? Are you focusing more on what you’d rather be doing than on what you need to do?

Spot the sin, correct it and create a brief your team will embrace. Because the stronger the brief, the stronger the marketing effort. And with that comes a stronger emotional connection your customer will make with your brand.


Noetic is a marketing consultancy specializing
in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

Build Up Your Creative Strength. No gym required!

Giving and receiving creative feedback is hard. For creatives, it can be dispiriting to hear your idea nitpicked to death. For marketers, providing relevant, actionable feedback is often a challenge. If you have ever wondered, “How do we work together to develop breakthrough creative?”, use the STRONG Creative Evaluation Tool as a step-by-step guide to help you and your partners develop better, more customer-centric work.

SSingle minded. In order to break through and have your message be remembered, it must be singular, focused, and clear. Ask “What one thing does this creative convey? Is it focused and memorable?”

 

TTarget relevant. Advertising must be relevant to your target customers for them to engage at all. Ask “Does this creative combine what we want to say as marketers with what our customers are interested in?”

 

RRiveting. Riveting advertising gets your target’s attention and engages them on an emotional level. Ask ”Will this grab them and make them feel something?”

 

OOn strategy. Creative that is “on brief” (delivers on the intended message) and “on brand” (supports the brand), is on strategy. Ask “Does this creative deliver on our strategy? Is it appropriately and consistently branded?”

 

NNew take. The product you’re marketing might not be distinct, but your message and advertising should be. Ask “Will this advertising get noticed? Is it new, fresh and distinctive?”

 

GGut reaction. Gut reaction is about the emotion that your target customer feels when they see your ad. Put on your customer hat and ask “What emotion does this creative convey? Is it the right emotion for our product and brand?”

If you would like to learn more or to schedule STRONG training for your marketing employees, please contact us at info@noeticconsultants.com. Click below to download the tool:

Noetic-STRONG-Tool


NNancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300oetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

The Difference Between Insights and Thinsights

Marketing success is simple: Brand marketers who truly understand their customers create engaging and successful new products and communications, and through those successes, reap the benefits of increased sales and engagement. Meanwhile, those who don’t understand their customers fail to connect and fall further behind.

Luckily, anyone can learn to be a better customer-centric marketer, whether you’re starting from zero or already devoted to this approach. Along with my team at Noetic Consultants, we leverage a powerful strategic framework for putting the customer at the center of your marketing initiatives. It’s known as the WHO WHAT HOW method. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Focus first on WHO your customer is in order to develop deeper insights about their unmet wants and needs
  • Understand WHAT attributes of your offering can best address your customer’s unmet needs or wants
  • Determine HOW to most effectively communicate with your target customer via strong briefs, more effective creative development, and choosing the right communication channels

At the intersection of the WHO WHAT HOW framework are consumer insights. An insight is an undiscovered or forgotten truth that reveals a deep knowledge of the consumer. When properly leveraged, it will lead to a connection between your product and the life of your target consumer. When you think you have arrived at an insight but aren’t entirely sure, ask yourself the following:

  • Does this observation articulate a revelation or discovery?
  • Does it produce a clearer understanding of a complex situation?
  • Does it explain WHY someone thinks or acts as they do?
  • Does it articulate an unmet need or want?
  • Does it feel emotional and human?
  • Is it a true INSIGHT or is it a THINsight that doesn’t go deep enough? Could you ask WHY again?

Once you go over this checklist and figure out where your true consumer insights are, you will be ready to create more effective new products and marketing campaigns.


Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

3 Tips for Finding Consumer Insight Gems

At the foundation of every successful advertising campaign is a consumer insight — an emotional expression of an unmet need or want that’s not obvious but prompts an “AHA!” when identified.

Think of Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ad campaign: this wildly successful advertising employs the insight that people feel and act differently when their bodies need food. The emotional promise at the core of the Snickers advertising is that feeling of wellbeing we experience after eating a filling and energizing snack. Many different snacks could fulfil this insight, but Snickers was the first to identify it and now owns it in the marketplace.

Finding true insights in order to develop compelling marketing messages is not easy, but it is something that all marketers can do with a bit of work: you just need the tools to know an insight when you arrive at one and to find one in the first place. Luckily, these tools can be taught.

In our 20+ years as strategic marketing researchers and trainers, we’ve learned a few basics that we would like to share with you.

Start with your WHO

At Noetic, we teach (and practice!) a strategic marketing model built on WHO you wish to communicate with, WHAT insight will convince them to purchase your product or service, and HOW your message will be delivered to your potential customer.

Starting with your WHO—your prospective customer—is essential to achieving your advertising objectives. Ground in your customer demographics, psychographics and behavior first. If you can, speak to your potential customers and watch how they act when purchasing and using the product you wish to sell. The more you know about your customer, the better chance you have of arriving at a meaningful insight about their relationship with your product, service or category.

Look for Interesting Facts

We live in a data-rich age, so chances are you will find more facts about your customer than you know what to do with. In order to arrive at insights, you have to be selective about which facts you pursue. For this we recommend identifying “interesting facts” that have a greater chance of leading you to non-obvious insights. Begin by identifying a few interesting FACTS that begin to indicate a need or want of your WHO that your product or service may be able to address.

Dig for Insight Gems

Just identifying interesting facts is not enough. To find insights, you have to go deeper by starting with an interesting fact and then asking “Why” over and over again until you arrive at an AHA “That’s so true!” moment. You will see it because you will be at a deeper emotional place of understanding your customer’s unfilled need or want. It often helps to work with a team of colleagues to reach this deeper place and to know when you’ve truly found the most meaningful and motivating insight.

These tips will help you know what insights are and provide the basic steps for finding them. If you’d like to learn more and to practice these techniques, contact us at info@noeticconsultants.com.


Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

Does Your College Have a Clear and Compelling Value Statement? Why You Need One and How to Develop It

Increasing educational attainment among underserved populations is critical to the health and vitality of our nation, yet recent news about college enrollment among lower income students has been dire. According to the American Council on Education (ACE), low income student enrollment at two and four year colleges immediately after high school graduation has declined by 10% since 2008, despite large increases in grant aid. At the same time, the cost of NOT going to college has never been higher.

Thankfully, colleges, foundations and the federal government are working to encourage high need students to enroll in college and to succeed once on campus. The Lumina Foundation, in conjunction with Education Design Lab (EDL), has recently launched an initiative to help public colleges with high need student populations reengineer their processes to better recruit these students, sustain them on campus, and assist them in their successful transition to working life, while also improving the longterm health of the institutions themselves. My company, Noetic Consultants, had the good fortune recently to assist in a Lumina Foundation “Convening” of college leaders, helping 10 public institutions create unique and compelling value statements aimed at attracting high need students.

A value statement is a short, clear expression of the value that a college or university (or business or product) provides to a specific audience. Ideally, this audience is focused enough to allow you to bring depth, specificity, and most importantly, credibility to the value that your institution promises. Unfortunately, most colleges have not succeeded at articulating their value to high need students. EDL and the Lumina Foundation Convening set about to change this, putting the development of effective value statements aimed at high need students at the heart of their efforts.

As marketing strategy experts, we took away much from the Convening that we believe will be of use to both educational and business marketing leaders, all of whom struggle with defining their best prospects and conveying their value in a competitive market. Here are some tips for creating a compelling value statement based on our learning:

1. See your offering through the eyes of who you serve

Anyone who works with Noetic will be very familiar with our oft-repeated mantra: “Start with the WHO.” This is a shorthand way of saying that to develop any customer relevant messaging, you must start by understanding that customer: who they are and what they want or need.

In our value statement work at the Convening, we started by asking each of the schools to identify and capture the highest priority high need segments for their institution. Next we asked them to articulate and capture the needs of these students, followed by the offerings that their school possessed that could directly answer these needs. Lastly they were asked to name and describe their competition to ensure that we kept a realistic idea of the landscape within which these students would be assessing them. With these elements as their raw materials, school representatives were able to better see their institutions through the eyes of those who would consider them and create value statements to speak to these students.

2. The kitchen sink is hard to resist—but resist it you must

Learning institutions are living, breathing organizations that have a treasure trove of important characteristics and aspects to offer. To narrow this down to “one thing” that your institution stands for is difficult, to say the least, and may even feel reductive. Nonetheless, it is essential to simplify and clarify your value to your audience. Too much complexity will leave your audience with no sense for who you really are and what you distinctively offer.

When you look at your institution from the perspective of your audience, you quickly realize that they are not just looking at your institution, but at many institutions. These can be public, private, for-profit and even options outside of the educational space. When you are looking through their eyes, you realize that they are seeking a place where they can see themselves, based upon who they know themselves to be and based upon their developing understanding of what they want and need in their college education.

From this viewpoint, it is easy for higher education marketers and enrollment officers to see that what students need is a single-minded, clear statement that enables them to easily and specifically understand who you are and what you offer. If instead they receive “the kitchen sink,” the volume and varied nature of your promises bounce off of them as white noise. You fail to make an impression and they fail to see who you truly are. But how do you get to that one statement? This is the challenge.

3. A Mad Lib™ formula provides a speedy and helpful structure

Of all of the smart design features that Education Design Lab brought to the Convening (and there were many), the Mad Lib or “fill-in-the-blank” formula was most inspirational. It is a simple yet profound construct that can help any institution or business succinctly and consistently draft a value statement in a brief period of time without losing rigor or focus.

For the Convening, this fill-in-the-blank formula was employed: “We offer students ______ (this core benefit) to help them ______ (address this core need) and unlike _______ (these competitors) we ______ (this unique benefit to students).” Following the first exercise asking college administrators to see their institutions through their target students’ eyes–which produced an abundance of information regarding priority segments, needs, offerings and competition–the Value Statement Mad Lib helped leaders make tough choices from among their options, creating the specificity that is essential for effective communications. The beauty of the fill-in-the-blank formula is that any organization can use it, with minor adaptations, to develop a distinctive and clear value statement aimed at a specific audience.

4. Use a rubric to guide your decision making

As helpful as a Mad Lib formula is for crafting an initial value statement, so a rubric is for assessing that statement’s strength. A rubric is a rating scale that helps a group assess how well a proposed value statement delivers on the most critical factors of a strong value statement. The rubric we use helps the working group determine if a value statement is:

  • specific and clear
  • competitively distinct
  • relevant and motivating to our audience
  • credible and believable coming from us
  • a clear guide for decision making and growth – now and in the future.

Test statements are rated Green, Yellow or Red for each factor. When utilizing a rubric, it is rare, particularly on the first pass, to get all green votes. This leads to powerful strategic discussion and decision making that ultimately leads to an optimized statement.

5. Vanilla is easiest, but not safest

When crafting a value statement, not only is determining the general direction of the statement challenging, but so also is selecting the specific words. Before starting your writing, it’s very helpful to have a good sense of what your competitors’ value statements are in order to arrive at a differentiated and compelling statement of your own. In the case of the Convening, we were able to develop and compare draft statements among the 10 attending institutions. As is very common, the first round of statements was remarkably consistent across institutions: in other words, they were bland, safe “vanilla” statements that likely wouldn’t stand out to prospective students.

Vanilla value statements are the easiest to develop—since they don’t involve any sacrifices or tough choices!—but they won’t help move your institution, brand or product forward in the marketplace. If, as at the Convening, you compare your first round statement of choice to your competitors (or similar institutions) and it sounds very similar, you will know that it is time to get back to work on developing a focused statement that truly stands out. Strive for distinctive language that feels authentic and specific to your institution and speaks to your target audience’s needs.

Value statement creation is an iterative process with a tremendous amount of hard data and soft data judgement that comes into play. Hopefully with these guidelines you may feel a bit more confident in pursuing this crucial brand strategy work.


Nancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300Noetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.