In the target strategy work we do for brands, we identify core market segments and provide key insights for delivering communications to increase a brand’s opportunity for success with each segment. We’re pushing our clients to keep their audience in mind for every decision they make.
When we’re developing strategic report stories, we follow our own advice and put stakeholder audiences at the center of our work. Stakeholder audiences can include representation from across the organization and range from the C-Suite or executive management to innovation, marketing and communication, and other integral teams.
It’s critical to identify your ultimate stakeholder audience crafting the story because different decisions and actions need to be taken by different teams. Here are some strategies we use to create stakeholder-specific reports when partnering with our insights colleagues on the client side:
Schedule stakeholder interviews.
One of the first tasks with our client insights partners is to schedule stakeholder interviews. Hearing the specific issues and topics that the stakeholders want to explore in the research will help us hone the questions in both the qualitative and/or quantitative phases. These one-on-one conversations allow us to establish a roadmap that meets the stakeholder’s and overall organization’s needs.
Determine stakeholder communication styles/presentation preferences.
Investing time with stakeholders helps us gain an understanding of their preferred communication styles. Some teams require more data to understand an issue and make a decision. Others prefer a very high level, distilled set of insights and findings that they can use to set a strategic direction. It’s essential to pay attention to communication preferences and align on the plan so the story report can match their preferred communication style and expectations.
Frame a compelling executive summary.
A strong summary narrative at the beginning of the report does two things: 1) It clearly and succinctly links the needs of the stakeholders with the findings 2) It showcases the most compelling findings to drive a call to action.
The executive summary is typically just a few pages with key insights targeted to the specific audience. Within this executive summary are “mini stories” focused on the topics that the stakeholder group needs to know to make better customer, product, or communications decisions.
Determine level of supporting data.
Once the key insights are delivered, there are stakeholders who will want to take a deeper dive into the data. We often organize detailed findings in the deck’s appendix, including demographic profiles and additional supporting information as well as key points that support the executive summary.
Review previous successes.
Look at other reports that have been successful with the stakeholders to understand what has worked in the past, and the style of storytelling that engages them. For example, some stakeholders prefer more data to support the story. Others, like the C-Suite, prefer high level narrative with minimal data charts or graphs. Knowing the right type of content will make the report more engaging to the audience and more actionable.
Knowing your stakeholder audience and delivering reports tailored to their specific issues will give them the confidence to make better strategic decisions and drive the success of new growth initiatives.
Read a recent post in our strategic storytelling series: Six Guiding Principals to Deliver More Strategic Report Stories.
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