Going Beyond Cosmetology in Strategic Narrative Work

It's not uncommon for CEOs and founders to approach me with their sales deck or marketing materials in hand, hoping to get a quick diagnosis of their firm’s narrative.

While these are somewhat relevant pieces to consider, it’s imperative that the diagnostic process digs deeper than the superficial layer of marketing. A company's strategic narrative is far more than that.

Your Strategic Narrative is the fundamental modus operandi of your business.

For instance, a typical narrative I see with marketing agencies and generalist consulting firms is the “order-taker” narrative, which consists of letting their clients dictate the terms of the sales process through RFPs, questionnaires, presentations, and an uncontrolled chain of meetings with vague agendas.

Conversely, firms operating under the “expert” narrative operate with opposite principles. They take control of the sales conversation. They refuse to “water-ski” behind their prospects, letting them know they are too assessing the fit. They are selective and command higher fees, resulting in a higher margin.

The “order-taker” and the “expert” narratives are radically different. But there is no way you will be able to see the difference if you just contemplate the marketing “wrapper” around the business.

You need to dig deeper.

Strategic Narrative work is not like cosmetology. It’s more like reconstructive surgery.

Therefore, a holistic evaluation of a company must consider not only its external communication but also the underlying structure that supports it. To continue with the medical analogy, you need an “MRI” before you “cut open” and rebuild a company’s narrative.

The identity of a professional services business is tied to its people and their behavior. The strategic narrative is visible in hiring, delivery, operations, and sales processes. The vision of the leader(s) about the market they serve and why it matters now more than ever IS the narrative.

A company's narrative is not restricted to any single aspect of its operation. Rather, it pervades every corner of the organization, from its core values to its day-to-day practices. Consequently, it is crucial to inspect and review a company's narrative in every possible context.

Dig deeper and consider the internal workings of the organization as a whole. Only then will you get a comprehensive evaluation of the foundation for meaningful change and growth.

Would it help to get a taste of the questions I use when I lead this diagnostic with my clients?

Take the MetaHelm free Narrative Power Assessment. See how you stack against the four dimensions of my model (The Strategic Narrative Canvas). You’ll get your score in 3 minutes.

Let me know about your findings.

Intentional Service Offerings: New Course
In Praise of Customer Dating