Companies with the best story don’t often win markets. Those with a sound strategic message behind their story tend to execute and perform better.
Why? Because a story is a narrative…about you. It doesn’t usually speak to your most important stakeholders – your customers.
On the other hand, a well-crafted strategic message tells all your stakeholders how you’ll drive growth and value for them over time. It compels action and inspires execution.
I’ve been briefed by hundreds of companies over the past 20 years, including 17 years as a tech analyst on Wall Street. A clear pattern emerged from all those meetings. The companies with a “hot” story to tell were not the most successful over the long term.
Those that articulated a clear, concise, consistent and compelling strategic message about how they help customers achieve business objectives were. The latter group usually sustained superior operating performance. Investors accorded them higher market valuations. And their stocks outperformed their peer groups over long time periods. On Wall Street, these are called “10 baggers”, although some go on to reward stakeholders with much greater returns.
Story, Message, What’s the Difference?
Source: Tech-Tonics Advisors
When customers perceive that you put their best interests first – solving a problem for them, improving their business outcomes, or making them look good – they’ll see the benefits of your solution from their perspective. They’ll be compelled to learn more. They might download a trial of your solution, ask for a proof of concept, or buy it outright.
And when your sales and support teams understand the strategic message, they are more motivated and engaged. This drives performance and productivity.
In the strongest performing companies, the strategic message permeates the entire organization. The results speak for themselves: companies with more satisfied employees see customer satisfaction increase and loyalty strengthen.
Strategic message must come from the top. It reflects the founder’s or CEO’s vision, mission and strategy.
- Vision is where s/he believes the company’s market is headed, why, and how this company will shape the market’s future. In the investment community, the key factors that drive a market are called “the fundamentals”.
- Mission is the company’s raison d’etre. It’s a goal-oriented statement that summarizes how the company will fulfill the leader’s vision. For example, in its annual 10K filing with the SEC, com states that “Our mission is to help our customers transform themselves into ‘customer companies’ by empowering them to connect with their customers in entirely new ways.”
- Strategy is the blueprint for how the mission will be accomplished. Again using salesforce.com as an example, the company states “Our objective is deliver solutions that help companies transform the way they sell, service, market, engage and innovate”. Strategy defines the specific people, processes and technologies needed for successful implementation.
If company leadership cannot effectively communicate vision, mission and strategy to all relevant stakeholders – both externally (customers, investors, partners) and internally (executive team down to individual employee), the business will not deliver value over time. They may have a story, but no strategic message.
Ask any leader what their top 3-4 priorities are to get the company to the intermediate-term goals one year out and to set the foundation for longer-term growth. The reply should be immediate and clear. If it’s not, performance will be sub-optimal.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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