And Strategic Narrative Marketing is Blooming. . .
Ahhh, Springtime. The grass is starting to turn green, the birds are chirping, and tulips and daffodils are popping up through the dirt to greet the sun. You’re probably even thinking about golf, vacations and scheduling a few outings with your friends and family.
That’s the familiar narrative we are all accustomed to when we think about Spring.
Now, apply that to what your company does each and every day. What is your company’s underlying narrative? What does it stand for? What does it represent?
For many folks, they won’t be able to answer those questions. Not because they don’t want to. It’s because they don’t have a Strategic Narrative.
Why? So many companies are so busy telling their own story versus looking outward and upward to see what lies ahead. Let’s face it. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
As an example, here’s a dialogue that may sound familiar in your organization:
<Management> — we need to increase sales!
<Sales> — we don’t know how to articulate what we do and why we’re better.
<Marketing> — we need a better, more cohesive story because sales doesn’t know how to sell our product.
<Development/Engineering> — here’s a cool new feature we should add to our product in the next release [however, it doesn’t tie to anything that distinguishes our product].
<HR> — we can’t hire the best and brightest people because they haven’t heard of us or understand what we do.
<Employees> — we’re not exciting as a company or thought of as a market leader.
All these statements really are saying something similar, but, the last statement really nails it on the head. “. . . We’re not exciting as a company or thought of as a market leader.”
That’s exactly the issue that a solid Strategic Narrative can help you with. Articulate not just your company, but, talk at a HIGHER industry level. What does your industry need? Where is it lacking? What challenges does it face – not just for your company, but, for all players in the industry? How can your organization help it overcome these things so the marketplace can grow and thrive for everyone? What are the opportunities for everyone to seize and help your industry grow?
That’s what your customers want to know. “How can we move forward and prosper as an industry?”
Well, folks, first quarter is over. What are you waiting for? One-fourth of the year is already gone. Companies are evaluating how they did after the first three months and looking at how they can revise, rejuvenate and re-adjust to ensure they are moving forward to capitalize upon opportunities for growth. Spring is a great reminder of that. New beginnings, taking stock of what we have, don’t have and what we need to do to prepare for the remainder of the year.
Here’s a simple six-point plan for your “Spring Cleaning.” Please add to or adjust as you see fit. One size does NOT fit all! We’d appreciate you sharing so we can all reap in the Springtime rewards.
Happy Spring Cleaning!
- Assess – what is working well and what is not for your company narrative (or do you have one?) and, most important, why is it working, not working or, for peets sake, why don’t you have one? If you don’t, skip to #4.
- Discuss – go to your C-level report (or if you are the CEO, ask your team and/or Board, even) and get their thoughts on what your company needs to do in order to realign itself. Ask what is happening in your industry. What challenges are customers facing and why. How can your organization help address these things?
- Plan – now, let’s put these things into an action plan. A company-wide directive that can help your organization address important items identified in Item #2 and delegate it to each part of the organization.
- Create — use the items identified in Item #3 to develop your own Strategic Narrative (you can read how to do this in “A Guide To Building A Strategic Narrative,” by my partner, Guy Murrel at Amazon). Or hire someone to help you do this. You will need all the members of your team to participate and be part of this, otherwise, it won’t work or be effective.
- Action – create an action plan that lays out the key tenets of your Strategic Narrative and then build a framework for how you can execute it throughout your entire organization. As you go, have each member of your team communicate the importance of your narrative to everything your company does and IS. They each should have their own framework for implementation.
- Assess – and we’ve just gone full circle. Just like the cycles of life (seasons), every company has its own as well. After you have fully implemented your own Strategic Narrative, in six months assess where you are and how it has impacted your organization. Where is it working well? Where does it need more attention? Devise plans for addressing areas where needed to keep your organization aligned and focused.
By de-cluttering and focusing on something much higher, you can focus your company on helping your industry continue to grow, thrive and help position your company as not only a market leader but, a market driver. Isn’t that what all CEOs want? To be the market category leader? A strong Strategic Narrative can do that and through the process, help position your company for the long-term. Believing in something bigger than a company’s own motives and jockeying for position can’t overtake or outlast a company that has something much bigger and important to say. Brands that get the love and loyalty of their patrons and customers are proof of that principle. Having a Strategic Narrative is the foundation for making that happen.
If you plant those seeds now, you will soon be reaping the rewards of positioning your own company as the market category leader with a clear distinct narrative that resonates with your customers, employees, partners and virtually every other stakeholder in your universe. How’s that for some Spring cleaning?!