How CPG Organizations Use Storytelling to Deliver Critical Insights Across (and Outside) the Business

For consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, earning a spot on retailers’ shelves or digital storefront is extremely challenging, particularly with the high levels of innovation and renovation in the industry.

Retailers have a major task in front of them to understand and satisfy their core shoppers, hoping to gain their loyalty. The time and economic pressures on shoppers make retailers’ jobs even harder as they need to make the best choices for their shoppers quickly. To support their retailer partners, CPG companies are now even more accountable to support their recommendations with critical insights that inform and accelerate decision-making.

When cross-functional teams are moving fast and working from different approaches, it makes communicating with clarity and impact that much more challenging. The result? Time wasted on rework of presentations, meetings that don’t land, a constant need to ‘circle back,’ and data dumping that overwhelms the audience.

Let’s explore the complex matrix we see in CPG organizations. There are several important roles and functions that impact the customer, and everyone has a role to play in how they deliver insights that drive business forward.

The Sales team “owns” the customer relationship and overall P&L and results. They are held accountable by their company to deliver strong results for their customer and company. The Sales team partners with several adjacent organizations to deliver against their goals. Sales Planning/Strategy is a critical partner that provides a bridge between the Marketing and Sales teams, communicating key objectives and selling materials to the Sales team. The Marketing team supports the growth of existing brands while also commercializing innovation that meets the ever-evolving needs of the consumer. The Category Leadership team is focused on helping the retailer grow their entire category.

To work efficiently, these teams need to communicate critical materials, information, learnings, and trends seamlessly between each other and to the retailer—from macro trends, to shopper insights, to tactical recommendations. With the recent advent of multiple data sources and the complexity that brings, being focused on the story is even more important. Using the data properly allows the story to be even more customized and specific to the retailer.

Strong internal partnerships and seamless ways of working are critical to moving with speed and building a strong retailer partnership. When multiple teams contribute to the messages delivered to customers, there’s enormous value in having everyone aligned on a shared communications approach.

We believe that by uniting everyone across the organization with a common storytelling language and framework to communicate, CPG companies can bring clarity and meaning to their ideas, updates, and recommendations to influence key business decisions and help the whole organization stand out.

Why storytelling?

Within CPG manufacturers, having a common framework centered around the story to be told can provide a “true north,” simplify ways of working, and define points of ownership. It can truly bring clarity across the CPG matrix while eliminating churn. From a retailer perspective, retail partners are busier than ever and they meet with people all day, every day. It’s critical to stand out and become that one meeting they remember at the end of the day. While the goal is to be memorable and get action on your idea, many CPG folks are challenged with how to be compelling. How can they stand out from the competition to deliver messages that resonate with their audience and lead to action? The right tools and skills (spoiler alert – storytelling!) that can streamline, simplify, and elevate every business interaction (from emails, to presentations, to 1-pagers and even elevator pitches!) are essential to today’s CPG leaders.

Storytelling provides a framework for you to clearly communicate your ideas and provide calls to action – and it offers a clear path for incorporating your data. We know data is necessary to inform business decisions, big and small, but challenges arise for CPG teams when trying to determine how much, or what data to share. The key is ensure whatever data you include advances your overall narrative, and appears in the right part of the story – in support of setting, characters, conflict, or the resolution. This approach to data storytelling will breathe life into your numbers and give your audience something to remember.

Great storytellers leave a lasting impression

Whether you’re aiming to showcase your consultative skills as a great partner, sending a high-stakes email, or preparing a pitch, crafting your story around a BIG Idea will help you tell a compelling and influential narrative that help you stand out and – more importantly – get your audience to say “Yes!”

Every story needs a BIG Idea – this is the one thing you want your audience to remember. Your BIG Idea should be a simple, conversational statement that captures the so what? of your story with high-level benefits. In short, it’s a one-line “a-ha” to your audience that will get them to lean in and want to hear more. Think about how many pitches retailers must listen to. Don’t you want to be the one remembered among your competitors?

Here are just a few examples of BIG Ideas in the CPG world:

  • Skyrocket your category sales by investing more in convenient and healthy family meal options.
  • To get more loyalty from health and eco-conscious shoppers, we must provide transparency into our manufacturing process and how we source our ingredients.
  • To attract the next generation of shoppers, we must create an interactive and informative app for consumers to engage with us.

Once you’ve shared your BIG Idea, you can move into the resolution of your story. This is the “HOW” you recommend bringing your BIG Idea to life and should be the easy part – after all, no one knows your product or solution better than you do. Now that you’ve given your audience a reason to care, the rest of the story should come naturally. You’re just resolving the tension you’ve built up in your narrative – and who doesn’t love a satisfying story ending, after all?

Level up with storytelling

CPG organizations are challenged with communicating to a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis. Telling a story will humanize your content, create a productive two-way dialogue, and meet your audience’s needs in the moment. The best part? You’ll look like an expert and master presenter to your audience, which will give them more confidence to buy into what you’re selling.

Whether you’re pitching to retailers, delivering a price increase, communicating supply chain issues, or sharing a product update internally, our storytelling framework will help you communicate better through the eyes of your audience.

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