Selling Your Story: Bringing Internal Stakeholders On Board

Over the past few months, Emily Canan wrote in this space about the importance of creating a strong brand story in an age of cluttered and sophisticated messaging, and how to reimagine your mission for greater impact and differentiation. Once you’ve achieved this, you’ll need support from your internal stakeholders to carry your brand vision forward. Some companies have taken this to the next level. At Nike, for example, a number of senior executives hold an additional “corporate storyteller” title, tasked with communicating brand slogans such as “Just Do It” to internally reinforce their ad campaigns. Here are a few pointers to help get everyone on board:

1. Find champions



Don’t try to single-handedly boil the ocean. During your journey, make sure you connect with key influencers from all departments, and bring them into the fold. They’ll give good insight into other lines of business, providing an opportunity to address stumbling blocks and demonstrate foresight before they’re raised in the boardroom. If they feel invested and valued, your champions can help sell-in your brand story, rallying employees from all departments to carry the brand vision forward.

2. Do your research

Reassure success. Try to gather proof that your customers, industry advisors and thought leaders already like a concept. It’s important to allow the expertise of others to influence your proposition. This incites greater buy-in, as well as provides evidence of wider cultural context. People rarely use market research when their employees are the audience, but in-depth interviews, focus groups, and surveys can offer valuable insights that you can use to paint the larger cultural picture that will help shape and sell-in your story. 

3. Demonstrate potential

State the return on investment, and then go one step further. What’s in it for them? Try to add a degree of specificity around how your stakeholders’ areas of work will be affected. This involves defining and communicating clear measurable objectives that go beyond the individual performance of a campaign. Clearly show how it will make a positive difference to the overall organization, for members across all departments. 

4. Foster an emotional bond

For a moment, treat them like your consumers. Help them foster an emotional connection to the company that transcends their day to day. You should essentially be trying to create a mini-brand campaign to introduce and explain the story, and bring your brand vision to life. Incorporate strong design concepts, visuals and video in your presentation. Remember, your audience is bombarded with people constantly vying for their attention and an endless list of decisions. You might be trying to convince your CFO plus IT alongside HR. This means your ideas must be well told, easy to understand, backed by a strong strategy, with an emotional hook. By casting a more evocative light on the company, it might inspire a new (passionate, even) approach to their jobs, even if they don’t necessarily interact with customers. 

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