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An effective strategic initiative leader skillfully articulates clear, unique benefits to stakeholders. You will find the three templates in this article will help you build that skill.
Template 1: Direct Mail Benefits Template
I call this the direct mail template because you can identify this cause-outcome format in direct-mail letters. The direct mail template for benefits is, “Because of _____, you will _____.”
You write the feature in the first blank and the benefit in the second blank. This format helps us to see the distinctions between features and benefits. The template exploits these fundamentals taught in all basic salesmanship courses:
- People buy benefits, not features
- Features cause benefits to happen
Here are two examples of this template:
“Because of the 24/7 ability of the system, you will gain flexibility in your personal schedule.”
“Because of the strategic initiative’s governance structure, you and other top executives are assured of appropriate involvement in decision making.”
Template 2: The Brag Benefits Template
This template adds the phrase “able to claim that,” and is in this form: “Because of ___ you will be able to claim that ____ .”
Successful internal stakeholders are always making claims about their performance to justify their presence, demonstrate value add, and create opportunity for themselves. Ambitious people let others know of their accomplishments. Here are examples,
“Because of the transformative vision of this strategic initiative, you will be able to claim the addition of many new customer prospects to your business.”
“Because of the “collaboration plank” of this strategic initiative, you will be able have a more efficient cost structure.”
“Because of the portfolio management feature of this strategic initiative, you will be able to have a better view of project priorities and resource needs.”
Not everyone enjoys or practices bragging. I call it the brag template simply because that name is memorable.
Template 3: The Experience Benefits Template
This template adds the phrase “able to claim that,” and is in this form: “Because of ___ you will be able to experience ____ .”
Consider this: Benefits are not just realized, but they are experienced by stakeholders. The book, Making Meaning explains that there are five kinds of experiences. While the book focuses on marketing and branding, there is excellent correspondence to the stakeholder benefits propositions:
- The economic experience – When an individual has an experience of economic benefits, they are typically gaining revenues or avoiding cost. This is the classic stuff that can be modeled through financial analysis and reported.
“Because the strategic initiative delivers an enhanced business model, you will experience the gain of 2,000 new customers for your division.”
- The functional experience – The functional experience is the individual stakeholder’s ability to solve problems or exploit opportunities. As an example, the CFO (see the previous article) will feel satisfaction in the knowledge that that the internal controls capability has been enhanced.
“Because the project disciplines are repeatable, you will be able to identify variations and deviations from standards.”
- The emotional experience – The functional experience is the stakeholder’s feelings of rewards such as love, pride, respect, self-satisfaction. It might be as simple as the self-satisfaction of accomplishment.
“Because of the strategic initiative, you will feel an increased sense of pride in your organization.”
- The experience of identity – This experience is similar to the emotional experience, but is realized by reinforcing the individual’s identity or membership. One great example is how status motivates managers.
“Because of this strategy, you will be seen as one of the elite leaders in this industry.”
- The meaningful experience – Meaningful experience is one that is provides great personal meaning to an individual, such as the birth of a child. A meaningful experience is powerful and profound for the individual.
“Because of this solution, you will have a life-changing experience.” (This was part of a COO’s vision, as I described in a prior post on As and To Be.)
Like most things in life, we face tradeoffs. This is certainly the case with articulating benefits for stakeholders. The following graphic illustrates this tradeoff. The more valuable benefits for claims (Brag Benefits) tend to be more economic, outward, and objective. The view of benefits-as-a-personal-experience is different in that it is meaningful, inward, and subjective. A leader knows that he/she needs to win both hearts and minds, and there is not one best way to accomplish that objective.
Notice where the lines cross. Might functional experiences might be a suitable gateway to more powerful benefits propositions? Do you agree that the leader has to skillfully express the right benefits in the right way for the situation ?
- Pillars of Strategic Initiative Success (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
- Strategic Initiative Benefit Propositions (Part 1): Identifying the Duties of Internal Stakeholders (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
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