Is corporate storytelling more art or science?
A little of both, actually. Today, I’m going to address the science side of the equation – and it begins with research.
If you want to tell a good corporate story and capture investors’ interest, you have to know which elements go into crafting that story. So, let me share an investigatory process, if you will, that you can use to determine what elements your story should contain.
First, start from the inside out. You must have a clear-eyed view of your business, and here are some questions you should be asking yourself to get there:
- Can the company clearly articulate its strategic vision (i.e., does it know where it’s going and how it is going to get there)?
- What is the company’s current story and how does it deliver it to investors?
- What aspects of the company’s story are unknown, unrecognized or misunderstood that could be assets to value creation if told in a compelling and meaningful way?
- How competitive is the company in the marketplace?
- What is the historic/current level of management credibility within the investment community and what are the contributing factors?
- What is the company’s historic/current performance-to-expectations ratio and what are the contributing factors?
- What does the segmentation of the investment audience look like?
Similarly, you’ll need an unvarnished view of the company as those on the outside see it. Here are some questions that can help you assess how you are viewed externally:
- How do investors view the industry and/or the end markets? How does this match up with historic views and future outlook?
- What is the current investor base composition?
- What is the current investor sentiment for the company and its current/desired peers?
- What does the gap analysis of the company’s investor engagement versus current/desired peers look like?
- What does the company’s media coverage look like on a quantitative and qualitative basis against the coverage generated by peers?
- What are the primary external factors that influence valuation and what conclusions can be drawn when they are mapped?
- How well does the company’s current story resonate with investors?
This data – which should be audited and reconciled as regularly as you would your financial and enterprise risk-management reporting – will ensure that your corporate narrative properly aligns the business and the investment brand. This alignment is critical to long-term value creation.
On a day-to-day basis, corporate storytelling can mean the difference between an investment in your company rather than a peer. Storytelling can enhance the understanding of the enterprise by simplifying its complexity and neutralizing potential value deflators. And, in times of organizational distress, including shareholder activism, effective corporate storytelling can mean the difference between a vote of support and a vote of no confidence.
Simply put, effective storytelling is the key to investor engagement.