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For many business owners, talking about company culture can feel a bit hippy-dippy. Successful business people are often focused on things they can measure, like revenue, return on investment, and sales numbers.

And you just can’t do that when you talk about culture.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, if employee retention is something you value (and it should be), company culture is vital.

Burst’s Core Service Philosophy

One step we recently took towards defining our culture was to lay out our core service philosophy. This ties very closely with our core values, a series of 5 statements that we have posted in our office, reminding us all that beyond delivering great, goal-oriented creative, we have responsibilities to our clients and to each other.

Our service philosophy lays this out in a little more detail, giving everyone on our team a sense of how they are expected to behave.

(Thanks to Moz for the inspiration on this)

The 5 Tenets of Service at Burst Marketing

Be Kind

It is expected that everyone who works at Burst Marketing will bring kindness to their interactions with others. Every person’s point of view is unique, and none of us is likely to have the exact opinion as another. That’s what makes kindness so critical to our own happiness at work. Differing opinions are only problematic if they’re not handled with kindness. Handling them kindly and with understanding is the foundation of collaboration.

What This Means ———-
When you have a disagreement, disagree on the facts, not the person.
When clients have ideas that you don’t believe are in their best interests, take time to listen to their explanations and ask them how they came to that decision. Once you’ve listened, then speak, addressing them respectfully and focusing on the topic at hand

What this Doesn’t Mean ———-
This doesn’t mean disagreements don’t happen. It just means they don’t get emotional.
This doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to express difficult emotions, like frustration and disappointment. It just means we express them professionally.

What This Sounds Like ———-
“Hey Juan - could you tell me a bit more about your idea? I have some thoughts, but I want to make sure I understand the full picture.”

“That’s an interesting thought, Susan, and I think there’s some good parts to it. However, I’m concerned that it’s not in line with the plan we’ve agreed upon. Can we talk this through?”

“Hey Bob, do you have a moment? To be honest, I was a little frustrated with our last conversation, and while I’m sure you didn’t mean anything personal, I’m feeling a bit miffed. Can we talk about it for 5 minutes?”

Be Confident

Think about the biggest thing you’ve ever purchased. Perhaps it was a car, or a home.
Did the person who sold it to you seem confident?

If not, how did you feel about buying it?

Like it or not, everyone in the world must be a salesperson. Creatives must be able to sell their ideas to clients and account people. Account people must be able to sell the agency to their clients. Owners must be able to sell ideas for improving the company to employees.
We’re all in the jobs we have currently because we have real talent. It’s our job to use that talent to better ourselves, our clients, and our organization. Without confidence, ideas die on the vine, and we can’t improve.

What This Means ———-
When you have an idea, do a few things. First, look for examples of how it could work. Second, look at the big picture, and think about how your idea would affect other people. And third, if you’ve taken a moment to think it out, go present it confidently. Talk to your peers, your supervisors, and company leadership to get some feedback. Remember - if people are asking you tough questions about your idea, you’re probably onto something good.

What this Doesn’t Mean ———-
This doesn’t mean every idea is good. It also doesn’t mean that you should stick to every idea no matter the feedback you get. Confidence and overconfidence are different, and only one is productive.

What this Sounds Like ———-
“Hey Mr. Supervisor - I had an idea that might help us deliver product quicker. Can we talk it out?”

“Hey Sue - I’ve been pretty frustrated with our deadlines recently, and I think I have an idea to solve it. Do you have 5 minutes to chat?”

“Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk to me. I’ve spent some time thinking this idea through, and I think it’s going to make us smarter, faster, and better looking. Here’s how…”

Be Calm

Marketing is a fast paced business. And we’ve all gotten caught up the whirlwind from time to time. And sure, there are moments where product needs to get out the door and we’re all a little worried about a deadline.

Being calm isn’t about how you feel inside. It’s about what you project to the outside world.

Look at how a guy like Tim Cook, Apple’s recently appointed CEO, has handled the widespread criticism of the new iPhone Maps. Everyone is saying the new maps suck, but he doesn’t look worried at all. He just calmly admits that improvements are needed, then he goes about getting the improvements done.

And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t sold my iPhone yet.

Being calm in the midst of a frenzied world is powerful.

What this Means ———-
Clients are going to lose their cool from time to time. Often, they’re taking big risks. Many of them don’t have the marketing experience that you might have, and won’t be able to tone down their anxiety without help.

Help them. Listen to their concerns, ask questions to understand them better, and allow them the space to be afraid. Simply encouraging them to talk about it will help lessen their anxiety. Once you’ve got all the details, calmly and patiently ask if they’d like to talk about some solution ideas, then present. If it goes well, they’ll be thanking you by the end of the conversation.

What this doesn’t mean ———-
This doesn’t mean be cold or detached. What people need in stressful situations is an ally, someone on their side who can understand their struggle and help them solve it. What they don’t need is someone who can’t relate, and jumps to “solution mode” too quickly.

Remember - our clients take their work just as seriously as you take yours. For the clients who actually own their businesses, it’s even more personal. Understand more than the problem - understand the person.

What This Sounds Like ———-
“Wow - shoot, sounds like there’s a lot on your mind. Thanks for telling me all that. Would you mind if I asked a few questions so I fully understand what’s happening?”

“Yeah, I can understand how frustrating that must be. I’d be worried too if that were the case. I’m got a couple ideas that might help. Do you want to talk them through?”

Be a Consultant

Our clients hire us for our expertise. Without it, they’d just do our jobs themselves, or work with someone of lower quality. The real value we bring to our clients is the value of our talents and experience.

When clients come to us with challenges, it’s our job to bring the power of our expertise to bear on them, helping to solve them efficiently and effectively.

What this Means ———-
The skills you have developed are the key reasons our clients hire us. Use them to help however you can.

What this Doesn’t Mean ———-
That you’re the only person with great ideas. Collaboration with a particular clients’ team is the best way to test, improve, and build upon your ideas.

What this Sounds Like ———-
“Hey client, that sounds like a sticky situation. One thing I’ve seen work in the past is something like X. Would you like me to give you the overview of how this works?”

“Wow, Joe, that sounds like a tricky problem. I’ve got a couple thoughts in my head that might be helpful, but I’d like to talk them through with the team first. Could I get back to you with our collected thoughts later this afternoon?”

Be Complete

“Build me 1/2 of a great marketing plan.” Said no client ever.

Burst isn’t in the business of slapdash marketing. Burst delivers and executes marketing plans that drive results. And we don’t get there by guessing.

What this means ———-
To deliver great results through marketing, we have to do our homework. That means understanding the client, understanding the competition, and understanding the context within which both of those things exist.

What this means is take the time to investigate a solution, and think about the alternatives. The best ideas survive scrutiny.

What this doesn’t mean ———-
Sometimes the right solution is obvious. If a client is posting aggressive, mean comments to their facebook page, we should recommend that they rethink their strategy. If they’re taking out billboards with offensive photos on them, we should recommend they rethink their strategy.

You don’t have to take time to find 10 reasons why someone shouldn’t design their website upside down, and you don’t need to supplement common sense with hours of research.

What this Sounds like ———-
“Hmm…sounds like a solution that focuses on social media and search engine optimization would make sense for you. Could you give me a couple days to look into this and get back to you with a firm recommendation?”

“At first glance, I think the ideas we talked about make a lot of sense, but if you don’t mind I’d like to run it by our strategy team to get their thoughts. Could I call you back this afternoon?”