Strategic Narrative Development: Elements of Success |Part 7

In our previous Strategic Narrative Marketing Series post, we discussed the value of conducting a discovery workshop to uncover raw, honest insights into your company’s view and vision for the industry. Without having any experience, these discovery sessions can be difficult to conduct and it’s easy to fall off course. We highly recommend looking into an expert third party to conduct the workshop for you. But, if you are determined to go at it alone, here are a few critical elements to a successful workshop and category:

  1. Gather the right group of people. A discovery session should include the input of senior management, including the CEO. It should also include some non-senior members, including people involved in sales, product development and customer engagement. Having a wide-range of insight makes the workshop a richer experience and supports a well-rounded narrative. Additionally, a Strategic Narrative is something under which the entire company can align – so you want to have a nice cross-section of representation.
  2. Think at the category and industry level. It is very easy to veer off course and shift the focus from the industry to the company. This is normal, because we are all used to talking about OUR products, OUR solutions, OUR differentiators. You have to remember that this is an entirely different approach, and your industry narrative will not relate to the industry as a whole if you are only focused on yourself. This is where a third party can play a critical role. Part of their job is to drive the conversation and make sure it doesn’t steer off course.
  3. Do not focus on the answer during the workshop. The workshop itself is for discovery purposes only. It is not the time to try and “find the answer” or “identify the category or approach.” Stay focused on an open, productive conversation, and spend time on the category after the session is complete. Give yourself and your team some time to digest the conversation.
  4. Consider all of your options when building a category. After your workshop has ended, if you believe your Strategic Narrative needs a category, you can start by exploring what is already out there. Perhaps you might benefit from revamping or modifying an existing category. Or, maybe the best answer is a mash-up of two existing categories. There’s no right way to build a category, but looking at existing categories is a good launch point.

If you are conducting your own workshop you need to be highly aware during the session. The conversation can (and most likely will) head down the “we, me, us” path. It is your job (or your third party’s job) to steer the conversation back up to the industry level. Strategic Narrative Marketing requires deep thinking and high-level content. You also need to be fully committed to elevating and evangelizing your category. If it becomes a simple tagline, it will eventually fall into the void along with all of your other tired campaigns. But if you commit and plan, you’ll be talking like a leader and having meaningful conversations with the influencers who can position you as a market driver. Approach your workshop and category with this in mind, and you will have a solid foundation to build upon.