How to Create a Narrative That Builds Relationships

[Editor’s Note: This is part I of a two-part series.]

Ayaz Malik, Manager, Enterprise Marketing Excellence, Roche Diagnostics Corp. (left) and Bob Pearson, Strategic Advisor, W2O Group/Co-Author, ‘Crafting Persuasion’

If a tree falls in the forest, do we hear it? When a story is created, but our customer doesn’t see it or appreciate it, does it matter? We can agree the forest of digital media is crowded. This condition places a premium on how we create our story. And, as important, how we ensure that the story is heard and current and future customers act on it.

This article is a continuation of a PRNEWS series that introduced and explained the ABCDE model, which focuses on how we create and tell stories. As you might recall, the model developed during years of PR pros working at the U.S. State Department. The PR executives and marketers were tasked with instructing diplomats in storytelling, augmenting their abilities to explain the country’s foreign policy narratives to diplomats abroad. ABCDE refers to Audience, Behavior, Content, Delivery, and Evaluation [see PRNEWS: July 2019 (Pearson), October 2019 (Knight) and December 2019 (Tazzia)].

An equally important part of reaching our audience and achieving business goals relates to how we bring this full model to life. We address this in a model called CEIT, or Content, Engagement, Interaction and Transaction.

If you think of ABCDE as a model to construct a great story, the CEIT model helps us CE-IT (see it) through.

Let’s explain.

Recognizing Challenges and Opportunities

We live in a world where we are dependent on our organization’s abilities to understand and leverage the connections, adjacencies and dependencies between Strategy, Content, Interaction, Transaction, Analytics, Optimization and Compliance in order to form a fully integrated marketing plan (Figure 1).

And yet, most marketers are unable to contextualize their strategies, objectives, tactics and measures across marketing and functional teams/disciplines. In addition, most organizations struggle to keep up with new marketing approaches and technology paradigm shifts. This is particularly so at large, matrixed organizations.

Figure 1. A Framework for Contextualizing Marketing Activities: This simple framework allows marketing teams to visualize roles, activities, adjacencies and dependencies, leading to the development and execution, and optimization of an E2E integrated plan. The ABCDE model is overlaid on this graphic. DAM represents digital asset management. Source: The authors

Contextualizing our Activities

The simple contextualizing framework shown in Figure 1 allows marketers and their organizations to visualize where roles and activities fit. It also allows them to see where adjacencies and dependencies are and to integrate multiple inputs for the development, execution, and optimization of an end-to-end (E2E) integrated plan.

We can reference the framework to prepare an initiative brief and ensure we have thought through the necessary touchpoints, success metrics, and pertinent information that teams will need to prepare their inputs for the E2E plan. Here are five key learnings from our experience with the CE-IT model (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – Leveraging the ‘Framework’ for E2E Integrated Planning: A visual representation of the framework to prepare an initiative brief. This organization helps marketers think through the touchpoints, success metrics, and pertinent information that teams will need to prepare inputs for the E2E plan. The 5 key learnings in this article are overlaid on this graphic.

1. Clarify & Translate Goals: It’s critical to start with clear business needs and goals that are then translated (not repeated) into marketing goals for each supporting team and external partners. The business or creative brief clarifies what success looks like so expectations are aligned between all stakeholders from the start. If the team should consider a variable (e.g. budget, timing), it must be included in the brief. There are no short cuts.

2. Lead Inclusive Launch Meetings: A project/initiative launch meeting should be inclusive, with all stakeholders and external partners in attendance. This allows every team to hear the same message and seek clarification of anything that is unclear. This is a great opportunity to clarify roles and responsibilities and expectations. In addition, it is the time to discuss critical adjacencies and dependencies. Each supporting team, fully informed and invested in the project/initiative goals, now can collaborate to develop its strategy, tactics and measures. It’s like being the coach of a sports team. Success is based on the entire sports team being clear on the plan of action.

3. Integrate and Align Individual Team Plans: As each team determines the metrics that matter for its strategies and tactics, the analytics team is able to aggregate these inputs and develop an integrated analytics, reporting and optimization strategy aligned with tactics. Consistency also occurs related to compliance, specifically for each project/initiative. This is critical as the focus on privacy, data and security regulations continues to rise.

4. Be Agile and Adjust Plans Based on Input: With all supporting teams’ strategy and tactic inputs aggregated, the project/initiative lead can review, assess and ensure integration of all inputs. The project leaders also can question any areas of concern and adjust, if needed. All teams should be fully aligned and ready to execute the E2E integrated plan. This becomes a team-infused plan.

5. Socialize, Teach and Listen to Leaders : The project/initiative lead must now ensure the plan is socialized with the appropriate stakeholders. Moreover, the lead ensures results of the plan are reported back, so that leaders understand the plan’s progress and adjustments required. This places us on the path to continual improvement going forward.

The Watch-Out: Entrenched Beliefs

Uh oh…those darn antibodies come out of the woodwork in organizations. An example is a peer who refuse to change.

The watch-out for organizations are blind-spots due to anchoring. There is considerable research that points to anchoring, which means we hold onto the past like a person gripping a pole in a hurricane. These implied constraints, or legacy mindsets, are the result of entrenched beliefs. They can keep individuals and organizations from moving ahead and recognizing critical shifts necessary to remain relevant in the marketplace.

Next: In the February 2020 edition we will offer insight about how to effectively drive your story daily.

Note: Ayaz Malik’s concepts and views in this article are his own and are not made on behalf of Roche.

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