STRATEGIC NARRATIVE INSIGHTS
Is It Actionable?
Throughout a series of previous articles, I’ve proposed five questions you could use as a framework to do a rapid diagnostic about your strategic narrative:
- How Well Did You Articulate It? Look at your messaging, marketing, what you say, write, and show inside and outside your organization.
- Does It Inspire People? Ask people if they feel invited as participants of your narrative and inspired to take action.
- Did You Integrate It? From your business decisions to your behaviors, observe if your narrative is consistent, dissonant, or absent.
- Is It Recognized? Get a sense of the public’s affection for your narrative to know if enough people know about it.
- Is It Different? Test how your perspective helps you disagree with your competitors and helps your customers to choose you over them.
Is it actionable?
Great strategic narratives are always inspired by people who see new possibilities and challenge the common wisdom that everybody else accepts as truth.
These five questions will definitely help you assess if your company operates on this basis.
But here is the thing: great products, services, and solutions also enable a strategic narrative by making it actionable.
After you’ve reframed why your company exists from the beginning, why the world will be better off due to its existence, and how you’re planning on making this happen, your customer is legitimately wondering, “Ok, I’m excited! Now, what do you want me to do?”
If there is no clear action, no clear role for your customer, there will be no momentum. Despite all your efforts, the movement you will try to build around your company will die.
Evaluate how you call people to take action. For example, is it clear that you believe in your product? Do you express what they should do next with clarity, confidence, and certainty?
As Zig Ziglar put it, “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.”
A historical example
During the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s, 100,000 converged to Seattle with the hope to seize the opportunity to travel to Alaska, find gold and get rich.
To prevent mass starvation in the remote and inaccessible Yukon Territory (where people had found gold), the Canadian government required every gold prospector to bring a year's supply of goods before crossing the border.
Seattle merchants quickly exploited their port status. Advertisements far and wide declared Seattle as the "Gateway to the Gold Fields" - the place where all one's Klondike needs, from food and warm clothing to tents and transportation-could easily be fulfilled. As a result, some 30,000 to 40,000 of the gold prospectors, who outfitted to go to the Klondike, bought their "ton of provisions" in Seattle. The city prospered.
The merchants made sure they told their market that they had a solution to make the gold rush narrative actionable.