You can’t read the label from inside the jar


And there’s good reason for that

Ever hear something that sticks with you so much you find yourself quoting the quotable quote over and over and over again? That’s me recently with this gem, thanks to David C. Baker’s book The Business of Expertise and much to the chagrin of my colleagues who are definitely at the saturation point of hearing it too much.

Oh well, that’s what you do when something perfectly captures why organizations struggle to capture and share their own story and the work you do to help them.

I work with some of the smartest people in the world. It’s one of the best things about the work we get to do with clients in strategy, marketing and storytelling.

They do what they do best. And it’s not easy stuff.

Their businesses are the engine of change. They are the David in Goliath industries. They innovate to improve how industries tackle large environmental problems, and they use decades of expertise to transform how businesses operate.

This is the cool stuff. The world-changing-in-big-and-small-ways kinda cool stuff.

They know the business they’re in. They know it better than anybody.

That’s true.

It’s also true when you’re steeped in your business, you know too much.

  • You are as deep on the inside as you can be
  • You have your own words for things
  • You have a culture built around what you know, what you do and why it matters

This powerful shorthand strengthens your ability to specialize, solve and innovate. And it can make it impossible to see the world from the outside – from the perspective of your customers, partners and other stakeholders.

This challenge only grows with the complexity of the business – the more varied the product/service mix, the more layered the delivery model, the more industries and geographies you serve, the more you need to focus on internal priorities and the harder it gets to see the world from the outside in.

This is the critical piece of the business strategy where we need to:

  • Filter and sort
  • Organize and label
  • Relay and relate

In order to identify what matters for the people you serve.

When it comes to building your story…

  • You ARE the makers of the special ingredients
  • You ARE steeped in it day in, day out
  • You ARE the secret sauce
  • You ARE inside the jar

You need to let the outside in. There are all kinds of ways to do this.

Maybe you’ve conducted primary customer research or have a thriving feedback loop in active social media channels. Developing personas and empathy maps for your target audiences can help too.

Gathering this input is just the beginning. What you do with it matters.

This is the work we love to do. Working with smart people who know their craft, businesses that make a difference. We help them identify all the possibilities, distill what matters most and leave the rest behind. This is the strategy behind the story. Then we build your story with your customers in mind.

It’s the sweet spot where the promise on the outside perfectly captures the value on the inside.

What does this work look like in the real world? Some of our most satisfying work includes helping:

  • A 20-year-old food company reconnect with their innovation roots to articulate what makes their promise different in an increasingly competitive segment; mobilizing those guiding principles as a filter for decision making, new product development AND their approach to engaging customers
  • The founders of a specialized technology investment firm find their voice to stand out starkly from the rest of the industry by capturing, bottling and amplifying their unique capabilities and warm, funny and approachable personality
  • One of the leading manufacturers of materials handling equipment build a value proposition for their high-value, high-margin aftermarket parts and service business
  • One of the fastest growing benefits consulting organizations identify the common thread of value that connects each of their independent partner firms, galvanize their strengths and catalyze a one-team approach to client service.

And countless other examples in the 20 years we’ve been doing this…

You have all the ingredients. Let us help you describe the flavour.

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