Surefire Success: Leveraging Values to Systematize Processes & Avoid Roadblocks

By: Maddie Russo from our partner, 31 Marketplace podcast team

Karley Cunningham is a big thinker and founder, creative strategist, and growth accelerator at Big Bold Brand, which develops strategies for innovators and architects of change that position their businesses to stand out in a sea of sameness, become brand leaders in their space, and accelerate growth and success.


Karley joined us to share one powerful strategy business owners can implement to actively prevent or resolve tension and roadblocks that get in the way of growth and success – a method she’s christened Surefire Success.

What is the Surefire Success method?

Surefire Success is a systemic “mindset approach” that focuses on the reputation part of a brand, building it on the big-picture foundation of who the business actually is. Mission and purpose, who the business serves, what the business does, and the ultimate vision of where the business is going are key factors in determining how the business operates and presents itself to the world.


When clearly defined, these values will naturally “float above the surface” to communicate who the company is through external tools. It also informs “core content” – or the general (not product-specific) differentiators and benefits that serve as the company’s unique value propositions.

“In those early days, knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe is really helpful to making some of the core decisions at the pivot points in your business.”

Benefits of a Mindset Approach

When who we are, what we believe, and our purpose in the business is strong, our values become powerful tools that organically guide and take the guesswork out of important business decisions:


  • Ideal partners & clients. Partners and clients who share similar visions, values, and purposes are a natural fit and will be much easier to work with. The same is true when seeking to acquire or be acquired by another business.
  • Employee alignment. When values are well defined, they will be baked into every process. Employees will always know what’s expected of them, executing with more confidence and independence and making more aligned decisions across the company. When employees are aligned, “acceleration is phenomenal”; Karley has seen many of her clients achieve their 5-year goals in half the time.
  • Projects. Taking a mindset-based approach can also help the team determine which projects are truly worthwhile. Will a certain project contribute to the company’s ultimate purpose?
  • Less pressure on owners. Not only will business owners be able to outsource clear, systematized processes to employees to take some of the work off their plates, but there’s also relief in recognizing that the company brand and owners are not one in the same. Instead, the brand has a distinct persona of its own that mirrors the founders’ values.

“You can use these tools every day in so many applications. What I love is that our clients are always coming up with new ways to use the tools.”

Tiny Marketing Actions (TMAs)

One surprisingly effective tool for getting your brand out there into the world are Tiny Marketing Actions (TMAs). TMAs are small activities to build brand awareness that accumulate into major impact – for example, reaching out to existing contacts to connect or pitching guest appearances on webinars or podcasts.


Leveraging TMAs can take some of the pressure off of small business owners who may feel like they have to have large-scale marketing strategies at work all the time, despite limited resources. According to Karley, TMAs can also make marketing more fun, as small business owners are quickly able to see the results of their actions.


“They’re so accessible, anybody can do them, you can test and measure which ones work for your business, hone that system, and keep doing it,” said Karley.

Codifying Systems

Surefire Success was always how Karley approached branding products in her head. With the help of her coaches, she realized there was a larger system at play here that could help others be more successful in their branding and general operations.


Said Karley: “Even if it’s not on paper, you likely have a system for what you do.”


Not everyone will want to (or should) codify a system for larger consumption, but it’s a great option to consider for those wanting to train others in a certain method, create a consistent customer experience across teams, license the method, or offer certifications.

In fact, there can be many benefits to publishing a strategy you use in your day-to-day business:


  • Helping others. A codified method is another way to help clients solve business issues they’re facing.
  • Replication. There is no way others will be able to replicate how you do things if your process remains in your head. Putting systems down on paper allows you to outsource pieces with confidence so you can stay in your “zone of genius.”
  • Evergreen offering. A method is a product you can monetize with minimal work, simply making updates and expanding as you learn new things and receive feedback instead of having to create new content time and time again.



Connect with Karley Cunningham on LinkedIn or at

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