The Narrative Imperative and the POV Manifesto

A POV Manifesto demonstrates and proves to the team that leadership has a future-facing plan grounded in market and customer realities. That there is an endorsed, thoughtful method to the madness that ideas and decisions are to be filtered through. The Point of View Manifesto eliminates internal competition around ideas and objectives and gets the team on the same page, literally,

By
DRMG
|
May 23, 2023

“We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.”
― António Damásio, neuroscientist

If this Soul to Sales series turns into a book, we’ll do a deeper dive into the neuroscience scholarship on the relationship between memory schemas and narratives, but for the sake of brevity can we all agree stories are the foundation of memory and learning?

To that end, I’m going to quote music critic and Utne Reader contributor Will Hermes to back up the thesis. Hardly the authority I realize, but if it passed muster with copy editors and fact checkers at the Utne, then good enough for now:

“Storytelling is among the oldest and most basic ways of communicating information, and we have long relied on stories to make sense of our lives and the seemingly plotless world careening around us. Stories are also building blocks of knowledge. Intelligence and education researchers increasingly place them at the foundation of memory and learning; some postulate the existence of a “narrative module” in the human brain, akin to linguist Noam Chomsky’s “grammar module,” that processes experience and data in story form.”

Thanks for the assist, Will.

In business, there is a spectrum of storytelling and selling that exists from internal strategy to external, consumer facing campaigns, from logically persuasive to emotionally inspiring. The spectrum looks something like:

From Internal to External
Strategy Story > Strategic Narrative > Point of View > Manifesto > Anthem

They each capture and champion, in their own way, a central quest shared by the company and the community, which brings meaning to the relationship beyond transaction. They promote the problem, from the prospects’ perspective, and show the way forward.

Generally, they follow  Martin Weigel’s narrative model arc of:
Reflection > Ambition > Jeopardy > Hope > Solution

At DRMG, our SaaS Brand Strategy framework is a hybrid of Category Design and consumer brand strategy, designed specifically for B2B SaaS realities. Our “narratives” are also something of a hybrid, somewhere between a Point of View and a Manifesto, so we’re never really exactly sure what to call it, but for now we’ll call it a Point of View Manifesto:

A Point of View Manifesto is part inspirational, part rational, it's an educated opinion on how to win (as Pollard says of strategy)  and includes some if not all of the following elements:
* The Big Change in the World - Cultural or technological disruption proximate or adjacent to the business.
* The Problem You Solve - Related to that big change.
* The Enemy = The Competition. The old way. Better.
* Key Customer Insight - The insight that shows us the way forward
* What is Missing - Imagine if there were…
* What we believe - Company vision
* Solution - The category idea that captures the opportunity to move forward
* Customer Superpowers - How the solution empowers the community
* Jeopardy - What happens if you don’t do this = losers
* Resolution - What lies at the end of the rainbow

These insights are gleaned and distilled from qualitative customer research to understand not just what they do but more importantly why…their motivations and related meaning upstream of the existing or desired behavior.  This is the art and soul part of the science behind SaaS Brand Strategy

We also dig into Stakeholder interviews to explore each leader’s take on opportunities and barriers, dreams and realities, as well as a deep dive into business performance and the scholarship and conventions within the larger existing category.

The list of elements seems like a lot, and it can be, but when it is weaved together by talented strategic word workers the result is a compelling and memorable narrative arc that is true, interesting, and actionable.

The key part, though, is it demonstrates and proves to the team that leadership has a future-facing plan grounded in market and customer realities. That there is an endorsed, thoughtful method to the madness that ideas and decisions are to be filtered through. The Point of View Manifesto eliminates internal competition around ideas and objectives and gets the team on the same page, literally,

Not only is your team tell and selling from the same page, but a compelling story gives your customers a clear and compelling story to tell and sell to their company and their network. It scales.

There’s an old saw in advocacy that applies to B2B; The best way to the head is through the heart. When you want to act, or to change attitudes or behaviors (or purchase decisions), beating people over the head with facts and figures is not the most effective use of attention and resources.

To wrap, let's return to Will's introduction on the power and nature of storytelling in culture and pull from folklore, the oldest form of storytelling:

“As they are told and retold, stories have the function of wrestling with the ultimately inexplicable chaos of reality around us. They give it form, and in shaping and reshaping the form, they help us gain control over it.”
- Alan Jabbour, National Folklife Center

-DRMG

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