Values Lenses

The Impact of Company Values on Event Success

The Impact of Company Values on Event Success

Exploring ROI through “values lenses” with author and speaker Daniel Aronson.
Editor’s Note: Opus Agency is proud to showcase our clients and partners pushing the boundaries of what's possible on our collective journeys to improve how people experience and engage with the world around them. — Paula Mettler

I recently sat down with Daniel Aronson, Founder and CEO of Valutus and author of The Value of Values: How Leaders Can Grow Their Businesses and Enhance Their Careers by Doing the Right Thing. The book (available for pre-order now) dives into how “doing good” is a savvy business strategy to increase a company's power, profit, and competitive advantage. 

This article is the latest in the Movement Maker series that spotlights people who are forming and fueling movements in business, events, and life. It explores the concept of “values lenses” and how event leaders can tap into this framework to drive success for their brands, events, and the world around them. 

Reimagining the Value of Values

“Doing good” is the right thing to do. And the strategic thing to do. 

Acting ethically builds trust, fosters positive business relationships, and contributes to tangible business value. While company values often bring to mind things like reputation and legacy, these are rarely measured in terms of ROI. 

The impact of company values on business and culture is wildly consequential. In a world where consumers have more choices than ever, they increasingly support brands and work for companies that align with their values. Still, a global “values-behavior gap” persists, with only 46% of individuals living according to their values daily. 

As consumers find it challenging to live according to their values, companies that proactively address, identify, and assist in closing this gap will thrive. Leveraging values-based strategies and marketing catalyzes success. Events, in particular, offer a platform for brands to showcase their values in action, creating meaningful connections with attendees. 

Understanding the financial implications of choices aligned with our values, like implementing sustainability initiatives at our events, is crucial. To build a compelling business case for incorporating company values into an event strategy, it’s essential to explore the reasons for quantifying values. 

Why Quantify Values?

Brands should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. But what if they could use real data to quantify values—and the ROI of acting on them?

Daniel Aronson, the author of The Values of Values and creator of InVEST, a software model that quantifies value from sustainability and responsibility, has helped clients quantify more than $2 billion in sustainability-driven business value. He shares that it's a common misconception that upholding moral principles doesn’t produce business value, but calculating the value of values proves this incorrect. 

“In an interview with three thousand CEOs, IBM and Oxford Economics found that ‘unclear ROI and economic benefits’ was the top challenge for CEOs when it came to achieving environmental sustainability objectives,” Aronson shares. “I​n a time when products, technologies, and markets are becoming less differentiated, values are a source of untapped competitive advantage. These are not theoretical or potential factors—they are concrete forces creating real effects with quantifiable financial results. Once executives and their companies understand where to look, investing in values will become an intuitive, must-have decision, as is any other core function.”

As companies invest in values and recognize where to place their focus, the natural next step is to dive into showcasing these values in our events. Let’s explore actionable ways to implement a values model, beginning with seeing things through “values lenses.”

How to Implement a Values Model in Events: Looking Through New Lenses

Aronson describes “values lenses” as a tool to see more clearly some of the biggest changes transforming business and culture. They unlock innovation and efficiency by allowing us to make decisions with a new perspective that aligns values with concrete, quantifiable financial results. Seeing things through “values lenses” helps us by:

  • Orienting us toward the future
  • Emphasizing otherwise overlooked factors
  • Dealing with areas that are becoming more important
  • Helping us connect with our core motivations and beliefs

So, how can event leaders apply this concept to their work? What benefits can we expect to see when events align with the brand's core values? 

According to Aronson, bringing values into your events starts with three key steps. 

First, it's important to clarify where there are connections between the brand's values and the values of event attendees. For example, respect for science might be a shared value that is deeply held (even though that fact might never have been used before in the design of the event — or even consciously articulated). 

Second, use those shared values to inform the event's content, operations, and marketing. 

  • Content: Select content and speakers that touch the audience on multiple levels — the values level, the intellectual level, and the business level. For example, a telecommunications company demonstrated the power and simplicity of its new technology by piloting it with students from lower-income communities. This campaign addressed audiences' business and technology needs within a values-based context. 
  • Operations: Bring values into the event, then use them to interact with the audience. For example, a technology company could demonstrate the power of its tech using an event-connected hackathon dedicated to addressing the world's biggest problems.
  • Marketing: Values help break through the clutter and make the event matter more to potential attendees, meaning you can reach new audiences and activate current ones through messages that combine traditional messages with values. For example, a technology event might already market itself as a place to see and use the technology of the future. It could also add values into that message, conveying that: the attendee can help shape the future of the world, our technology can help, and this event is where you’ll take the first step. This makes attendees the heroes, with the tech supporting their ability to do great things.

Third, make the event part of an ongoing conversation with key audiences. Add values into your communications throughout the year, and you can give people a chance to tell you about their values as well.  

Consider the case of Microsoft’s Partner Pass Initiative—a shining example of how values-driven events can elevate brand success. Through a strategic, values-first approach, they implemented the Microsoft Events D&I and Accessibility Partner Pass Initiative, a first-of-its-kind attendee pass for influential yet underrepresented local, national, and global community leaders. The initiative debuted at Microsoft Ignite, an annual event for developers and IT professionals, where Microsoft not only invited underrepresented community-leading organizations but enabled them to attend by covering all associated costs such as travel, accommodations, meals, and conference passes. This resulted in a network activation that empowered the community and grew Microsoft’s brand love with targeted demographics.

Now, let’s explore quantifying the benefits of values-oriented initiatives. 

Measuring Success: Metrics for Values-Based Event Strategies

One of the most essential factors in the success of an event is whether the audience feels like the event truly matters.

Aronson explains, “While there are many reasons an event matters (e.g., who will be in attendance), an overlooked one is its connection to the audience's values. When tied to the core theme of the meeting (e.g., technology), the chance to hear a speaker talk about values engages attendees intellectually and emotionally, creating a unique differentiator. This drives success for all kinds of events, especially those that aren't explicitly values-based. 

You can measure the effect of values on event success by tracking three things:

  • First, your existing measures of event success (e.g., you may measure NPS, word of mouth, or repeat attendance). These are your key metrics for a reason, and values-related efforts need to help you perform better on them. 
  • Second, the extent to which attendees (and potential attendees) feel the event reflects what’s important to them. This measures the success of your values-based efforts, but it also does something else. In combination with the next metric (how much the event matters), it measures how much those efforts are driving business results.
  • Third, how much audience members feel the event matters to them, to the industry, and to the world. This metric (which Aronson calls “MPS” – Mattering and Purpose Score) drives attendance, word of mouth, and engagement — all of which help with your business metrics.

When you analyze the data, you’ll very likely find that attendees who feel the event both matters and reflects their values are also the most satisfied and loyal. Aronson’s research has even found they’re more vocal, creating more word of mouth and social proof.

Big Idea

Now more than ever, consumers include values when deciding which brands to buy from, and B2B buyers build values into their procurement scorecards. Designing events that showcase the company’s values — and how it acts on them — creates more loyalty, trust, and emotional connection. This positively impacts brand reputation and event attendance and contributes to long-term competitive success.

Drop us a line to learn more about incorporating values into your events and making them truly matter to the business and the world. 

About The Value of Values

Acting on values—doing good for the benefit of all—can substantially benefit the bottom line, but many business leaders mistakenly believe that doing the right thing lowers profits. This belief is the greatest barrier holding businesses back from being more financially and competitively successful—and delivering more good for the world. Not only can it be a winning business strategy to act on values, as Aronson suggests in The Value of Values, but it is also a savvy choice, increasing a company's power, profit, and competitive advantage—in many cases, with little additional investment or risk.

It starts with seeing what others miss. Using extensive research and real-world calculations, Aronson demonstrates that the “submerged value” of initiatives such as taking bold action to combat climate change, helping people find jobs, or creating an open, inclusive work environment is normally 4 to 10 times more than initially believed. Calculating and capturing the true business benefit of acting on values provides a much-needed update to the sustainability and responsibility playbook. Even more important, it shows executives how to harness the value of values to improve profitability, acquire customers, and turbocharge their own careers.

Written by a measurement pioneer and one of the world's foremost experts on making ethical business count, The Value of Values trains leaders to respond smartly and credibly to today's challenges, transforming how business can and should be done.

The Values of Values releases in February 2024. Secure your copy by placing a pre-order today. Connect with Daniel to feature him in your speaker lineup. 

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