Is Your Corporate Culture for You, or Them?

Do your customers and prospects care about your corporate culture? When you interact with customers, do your actions reflect your corporate culture? Good,  or bad.

More-than-likely, they don’t. At least not on the surface.

Why Does a Customer Care About Your Corporate Culture?

What I mean is, sending a handwritten note to a customer with your “culture sayings” makes the note about you. And to have the greatest effect, it should be about them. Shouldn’t it?

The CEO of Medtronic, Geoff Martha, created a terrific LinkedIn post about a handwritten note he received from a sales representative in St. Louis. Here is the card:


Using the card that the Medtronic Rep created and Mr. Martha will use is great for sending to other Medtronic employees. But customers, I don’t know? I’m not clear if he’s saying he’s sending Medtronic’s top performer’s this note or sending them a batch that they may send to customers. It’s must be the former…

Please don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in the power of the handwritten note. It’s so personal though, that when there’s too much “corporate speak” on them, they lose some luster. I recorded a Make Marketing Easy Podcast episode here with an Ophthalmologist who feels the same.  What do you think?

To me, the actions you take should demonstrate both that you believe in the corporate culture statements and that they are guiding principles for you and your organization. Former Medtronic CEO Bill George’s book, “True North” (Affiliate Link) shows how he thought about the importance of culture and infused it through Medtronic.

Culture = Actions

It sounds like Geoff Martha and his leadership team are carrying on Bill George’s focus on culture. And you might agree that that explains why Medtronic continues to perform so well year-after-year.

What Happens If Corporate Culture Isn’t Widely Adopted?

Have you ever worked at a company where the mission and vision statements are nice and tidy, and no one believes them? If you have, you know that can be a tough environment for success.

What happens when the corporate culture is not truly adopted? The actions people take do not reflect the statements and you lose trust internally and in the market. And once trust is lost, well, it’s hard to get back.

If building trust is the driving purpose of spending resources creating these declarations, shouldn’t they serve as guideposts to help you in your work serving customers? And not as marketing copy.

What I mean is, it’s great to use your mission and vision statements for inspiring your own team. I just don’t buy that many customers and prospects are all that fired-up about reading your stuff. Make it come through in your acts, isn’t that really why you create the statements in the first place?

If the strategic corporate culture is diffused and believed in an organization, people’s actions will be aligned with the principles. And there won’t be any need for printing anything on a handwritten note other than, “thank you.”

And if things aren’t aligning, it’s not really a corporate culture – it’s just slogan with no force behind it. 

How Might You Change Your Thinking About Corporate Culture Communication?

Understanding when and how to communicate your corporate culture might be the most important project you do all year. If you work for Medtronic, or another organization of that size, you might have lots of corporate swag that helps you remember, believe, and live your corporate vision and mission.

What about if you’re a small company? Maybe a company of one? Do you still have corporate culture? Yes, you do! And what’s great about that is if you’re small, a little change can have big impact.

Maybe you have a  couple “guiding principle”s – your True North? It works for creating your corporate culture around those, too! No matter your size.

Years ago, I wrote “Joel’s Code of Seven”:

  1. Serve others.
  2. Do the next right thing.
  3. Always believe anything is possible.
  4. Set goals and create a plan for achievement.
  5. Execute to completion.
  6. Be kind.
  7. Be faithful in all dealings.

Do you have a list like this for your work and life? I’m not perfect, and read this list each morning to help get the daily “corporate culture of Joel” started on the right foot.

In Conclusion

One of my favorite business authors is Peter Drucker. He evidently once said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That doesn’t sound very Drucker-like to me, but who knows? It’s a good saying.

If you’d like a free pdf that I put together about how to make your customers and prospects feel special, fill out the form below. Or, if you’d like to schedule a time to discuss something you’re working on, email me at

Good luck and good marketing and selling! 

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