I will open as I have done occasionally in the past – with a disclaimer. The subject of this post is a bit of a departure from normal business topics, so I offer it with the qualification that it won’t appeal to everyone. But it resonated with me, so here goes.
Recently, our business development team has been working on several new program “pitches.” These proposals run the gamut from sales incentives to comprehensive employee recognition solutions. As such, they include different features and functions, with varying technical specifications, data, etc.
And while it has been important to correctly and clearly identify the differences among these programs, I have been struck by a principle that has been common to them all. And that is the importance of framing the proposed program design within an effective narrative about the program’s impact on the business case. In other words, we have found that the program proposal must tell a compelling story for it to be understood and seriously considered by our potential client.
Reflecting on this, I did some research on the impact of storytelling in business, and found an excellent article – The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool , by Harrison Monarth. While it is a quick and entertaining read, I’ll offer a couple of observations on it here.
First, the author refers to studies that found that strategic storytelling “has been enlisted to change attitudes and behaviors.” Clearly, there are real world examples of successful storytelling in business applications like ours. Secondly, Mr. Monarth writes that “data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
These observations are consistent with my own experience. Both our selling activities and our clients’ programs have been far more successful when presented in the context of a convincing story. Now, although it should be obvious, these narratives need to be accurate and truthful. But assuming that they are, they can be among your most powerful and useful communication tools.
In closing, I’ll admit that this post has focused in part on our internal business development experience. However, I also believe that there is a takeaway for our readers. And that is this. If you are considering a recognition or incentive program, give full attention to the way in which that program will be framed for your participants. That narrative can make all the difference in driving engagement, which will, in turn, increase program impact on your business case.
We invite you to contact us to assist with the program – and story – for your business opportunity.