Are you familiar with the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly StrengthsFinder)? No, it isn’t one of those Facebook quizzes meant to lure you into surrendering all of your data. It’s actually a pretty neat tool from the folks at Gallup. It is meant to identify your talents and what you are naturally good at.
It is still available as an actual hard-cover book that explains what each of the 34 possible strengths are and ideas for action, as well as tips on working with other people who excel in each area. The book is still called StrengthsFinder 2.0, but newer versions also include the CliftonStrengths branding. You will find all of the same information if you take the assessment online and use the e-book, and the price is about the same either way.
No, I’m not paid to sell any of these products, but I recommend them just the same. I have not gone in for the premium CliftonStrengths 34 results, which apparently shows you how you rank in all 34 categories and gives tips for improving in the areas where you are “weaker.” I am personally only interested in the original, and coincidentally more affordable, Top 5 CliftonStrengths. (Here are resources on similar exercises that are actually free!)
No business or nonprofit is too small to benefit from investing in this activity.Amanda Evrard, JTE Communications
CliftonStrengths is one of several strengths assessments or personality tests executives assign to their employees as a team-building exercise. Some companies even require one of these tools as part of the application or onboarding process. I believe these assessments in general and the CliftonStrengths Assessment specifically are useful tools for teams of all sizes, including solopreneurs. No business or nonprofit is too small to benefit from investing in this activity.
Why should I care?
Why? Because when asked point-blank what our greatest strengths are most of us don’t really know. We can probably say which Harry Potter house we would belong to, whether we are more of a Carrie or a Charlotte, and maybe come up with a few things we think we are good at. Knowing what we are naturally good at and understanding these things at a deeper level is not only personally fulfilling, but it can also help you to successfully lead and market your organization.
To date I have used the knowledge from the original book as well as the book Strengths Based Leadership to better understand my coworkers as well as to write cover letters and resumes and to prepare for job interviews. I continue to use this information to build my business.
Two of my Top 5 fall under themes that are arguably innate ways of being that cannot be taught or gotten rid of. I understand that I am driven by core values that I believe give purpose to my life. I accept that I think strategically, I am mindful of patterns and evaluating potential obstacles, and I most often make decisions based on what I believe the most likely outcome will be. I find that these strengths are the driving force for my approach to marketing for myself as well as for my clients.
Marketing and PR are fields that are not widely known for their ethics, altruism or integrity, but I know it doesn’t have to be that way. As a consultant I choose to work with people and organizations that are mission-driven and have big dreams of improving our world (I lovingly call them do-gooders). I love consulting because I know that I am good at helping others see the big picture and proposing solutions that they can put into action.
My other three Top 5 all fall under the Relationship Building theme. While I am at my core an introvert, I am still drawn to people because I enjoy seeing the potential in others and nurturing growth – both personal and professional. I am empathetic and flexible. These are traits that make it easier for me to facilitate clear communication between organizations and their target audiences. Marketing truly boils down to relationship building between an organization and its clients/customers, and I am grateful to be working in a field that values my strengths.
The next time you are wondering how to best market your organization, take a moment to reflect on your own strengths. Are you using your talents to develop your marketing plan?