How to sell big ideas to internal stakeholders

Posted by admin on November 24, 2015

It’s the age old problem of Marketing and Comms Directors. You have a goal with a great idea, but how do you get buy in from the board? This week we ask guest blogger and marketing and communications specialist Phil Woodford his thoughts on getting senior stakeholder buy in.
“We often have numerous campaigns live at the same time and our internal stakeholders always have patient care at the centre of what we do. When I sell in campaign ideas, time and measurable results are of the essence. Here are my five ways to influence stakeholders:

  1. Do try to meet with key influencers to discuss your proposal before any board meetings. This gives you opportunity to discuss stumbling blocks with people before they bring them up in the boardroom where they can potentially block the big ideas before they even get off the ground.
  2. Always demonstrate Return on Investment. What’s in it for them? Usually if it means good things for your organisation they will buy into it, but if you can be specific about how their area of work will be affected even better. Remember, you need to understand the difference between a feature and a benefit and be able to clearly articulate them, people BUY benefits, not features.
  3. Do use research to test your concepts before you try to sell them. There’s nothing like proof that your customers / stakeholders / industry opinion formers already like a concept before your launch it to help make the decision to use it.  It is important to ‘let go’ and let others shape the final proposition to secure greater buy-in.  Seek these people out, groups like unions, staff side, volunteers etc are invaluable in this respect, ignore them at your peril!
  4. Show how your campaign will make a difference to your organisation and its stakeholders. How are you measuring the campaign, how effective has it been, what statistics can you use to demonstrate who has been reached / touched by your marketing activity? Use Google Analytics, web hits, sales figures, visitor numbers, staff engagement levels, media reach, social engagement. There are no excuses not to measure! And in my opinion, nothing beats grabbing a brew and sitting down with the customer and ask them how the campaign has performed for them – DON’T over complicate things!
  5. Do use strong design concepts, visuals and video when presenting your work. You might be convincing your Financial Director alongside the Chief Exec and HR, so ideas that are quick and easy to understand, with a well-researched strategy of course, will have the most impact.  These people are bombarded all day long with messages from people ‘pitching’ for their attention, they can often sniff out a good or bad concept quite quickly – don’t use whistle and bells for the sake of it, keep it relevant, innovative – but above all, remember KISS."

Phil Woodford is Associate Director of Corporate Affairs at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which has over 5000 staff across five hospitals.  His portfolio includes corporate communications, Freedom of Information, membership recruitment, board support and advice, as well as charity and fundraising activities.  Twitter: @Phil_Woodford

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