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CW 107: Chris Watson

Cut through the noise & engage your most valuable audiences!

Chris Watson breaks down the 4 most common audiences that every organization is trying to keep engaged & motivated. Your People, Prospects, Customers & Leaders have the ability to grow your organization or sink it. If you are not telling the right stories to these audiences then they will listen to a better one from your competition.

Chris explains that each of these audiences are making decisions based on what they are tuned into, & if your organization is not providing them with a community to engage in then they will find somewhere else to get clarity, knowledge, & solutions.

Lastly, Chris explains that each of these audiences are working simultaneously to achieve success & that they might do their job in a different way according to their strengths & motivation. The one thing that must remain aligned is the story they tell themselves & the story they are telling others. The story that they are telling others is the core narrative of the organization & without a common core narrative being told then your valuable audiences are confused.

Welcome to Bridge the Gap Contributor Wednesday. I’m Chris Watson. This is the final episode of Contributor Wednesday for me. It has been a pleasure! I hope that this has been insightful, has been inspirational. I hope that this has helped you in your strategic communication, strategic storytelling. Today, I want to give you really just some free training or coaching that I do with every one of my prospects and then clients. And what we know is that in every organization, that at minimum, every organization has four high-value audiences. Those audiences are their people, their prospects, their customers, and their leaders. Now those four audiences have so much impact and influence on the organization, whether the organization is going to succeed or whether that organization is going to fail. But, as you know, as I know, every single person is dealing with a, you know, unsurpassable amount of noise in our lives.

And that is social media. That is friends. That is email. That is slack. That is podcasts. That is internal conflict. That is our family. That’s just life. And so we have all this noise, but for some reason in that noise, there are always things that captivate us, that engage us. You know, I always think of a sports fan and how life can be so stressful and crazy and feel so stressful to a point where they need an outlet. They need something to engage in. They need something to pour into. They need a community to dive into. And so a lot of people, myself included, as a big St. Louis Cardinals fan, and Dallas Cowboys fan. I like to dive into those communities, because I’m finding people that have context that know me, that know my world, that know being a fan.

We talk about the team, we talk about sports. We talked about the latest results. And so when you think about an organization, we have to do the same for these high value audiences. We have to create a community for them. We have to create a place for them, that they feel comfortable in saying, that person, that organization gets me, they know what I’m going through. And so that’s what I wanna talk about today, is how do we cut through the noise to captivate these high-value audiences?

The first audience is your people, your internal people. And I don’t wanna be too cliche here, but we are talking about our culture, but I would say it goes even deeper than the culture that we’re trying to create for our organization. I would say that each individual gets to create the culture for themselves within the organization.
Now, I know for some of you, you might have remote workers or hybrid workers. For a lot of us, we have people that are still coming into an office space or to a place of business. And so there is a culture that’s being created there. Now that culture is being created by the words that we say, the way that we communicate. Are we aligned? Are we in conflict? It is being created through relationships. A tool that we use here at Craft and Compel, that my good friend, Michael Brown Insight Leadership Group, introduced me to, was the core strengths platform. And what this tool does is it offers an opportunity to get results through relationship intelligence. So this idea of relationship intelligence really is when we’re talking about our internal people. Now, another way of saying this is that every single person that comes in our door whether they are C-suite or whether they are, you know, in janitorial services and they’re kind of behind the scenes, but working hard, all of them, when they show up to work, they tell themselves a story.

I like working here. I like the people I work with. Oh, not another day. They tell themselves a story when they have success, they tell themselves a story when they have failure, but they are ongoing telling themselves these stories and these micro-moments. And those micro-moments is what makes up the macro outcomes. Those outcomes can be higher performance. They can be better culture. They can be higher retention. They can be, they’re just doing their job effectively. But it’s these micro-moments where they’re telling themselves the most stories, and I think that is where culture is created, is in the micro. In the micro-moments, in these tiny conversations, in this meeting, in this outing, in this day off, in this stressful situation, that is where people are now experiencing what culture really is.
Now we do that, as leaders, we do that with what are the stories that we’re telling our people? What are the stories that are aligned throughout? Are we allowing our people to create a personal brand within our organization? That might be on social media. That just may just be, you know, Hey, Chris is our go-to storyteller. Or Sarah is incredible at handling, you know, client issues. Or we love this person over here, Trisha, she plans all of our events. Whatever it might be, people kind of need to have a personal brand to know their role.

Now I’ve said this before, but I’m gonna say it again. There are only three real questions that every person in your organization is trying to answer for themselves about whether they like where they work and wanna stay there.
Number one, are they safe? Do they feel safe? Are there any threats in the organization, in their department, with their team. If there are no threats and they feel safe, check mark.
Number two is, do they see that they have a purpose here? That means can they be here for a long time? Is there growth here? Do they have a purpose in the organization? Do they feel like what the organization stands for, what I would call a core narrative or a strategic narrative, is there a narrative that they say, yes, I buy into that we are creating better lives for people? Whatever the tagline, whatever the narrative might be, but they’ve gotta believe in that narrative to say, there is a purpose here for me.
And then number three, are they able to be honest and vulnerable? Which I believe is a trickle-down. I believe that leaders have to be honest and vulnerable to do that. So, first high-value audience are people. Is there alignment? Do they feel appreciated? Do they have a voice? Are we creating a culture? And are we helping them stay true to that culture and that narrative in the micro so that overall the organization can achieve the macro outcomes that it has people

Number two, and these aren’t in any particular priority order. Although, I would say our people is probably near the top. Number two is our customers. So, I love the adage. I’ll live by it until the day I die. My dad used to say it all the time, and you’ve heard it before. The customer we have is more valuable than the one that we do not. And why is that so valuable? Well, because I believe it’s valuable because of context. Context. I always give the metaphor that if you were to show up to some show that I’m watching on apple TV or on Netflix, and you show up episode seven and there’s 12 episodes, you’re gonna be lost. Now I could probably catch you up, but without context you don’t feel involved, aligned, engaged, captivated, cuz you’re always just playing catch up in your brain.

Who’s that? And what are they doing and why did they say that? And why did this happen? And you know, there’s a lot of distortion going on, while you’re trying to watch this show. And so I think the same thing happens with people that aren’t our customers. They’re trying to pick up on the context. They’re trying to build a relationship, but with our customers, they already have context. They’ve already been sold into. They’re already investing in the organization. Now with that being said, we have to, with our customers, we have to think about customer service in a brand new way. I recently heard, I believe it was Donald Miller who was talking about customer service. And what he said was that, if you were in any type of service organization, that if you’ll just go 50% better customer service, you’ll beat out 80% of the competition because people aren’t focused on customer service as much as they used to.

And I think about my own experiences and I’m like, that’s so true. I would almost say the 80 20 rule applies. That 20% of the restaurants, 20% of the car dealership, 20% of the experiences that I go to, 20% of them, I really feel like they care about their customers and that they are motivated to serve. They’re motivated to make sure that I have a great experience. Whereas the other 80%, eh, paying the money that, you know, we’re glad you’re here, but I’m just doing a job and you’re just coming here to eat. And so imagine if you took a new mindset on the way that you’re gonna handle your customers, the way you’re going to make sure that you are keeping them up to date, making sure that you are giving them context, making sure that you’re making them feel valued. I think you can do that through newsletters through contests. I think you can do that through video.
If you’re not using video, you are failing right now in the way you’re communicating with your customers or your prospects because over 85% of all of the information consumed on the internet is in video form. Over 85%. I think the stats 87. So if you’re not using video, then you may be lacking for people who want to consume the information that you are putting out. With our customers, what do we want from our customers? Well, we want referrals. We want retention. We want referrals. So in order to get referrals from our customer, what do they have to know? Well, they have to be able to easily communicate our brand, our value, our, our service. They’ve gotta communicate that for us. And we have to educate them and coach them and guide on how to do that.

That’s where storytelling comes in. That’s where narrative comes in. Am I giving them the right tools, the right stories to tell for me. So if you think about Craft and Compel, what we tell people, is that we help organizations cut through the noise to captivate their most valuable audiences. So when I’m dealing with the customer and they say, Hey, who would I refer you to? I would say, if you ever run a conversation and someone says, yeah, we’re just trying to really understand, how do we connect better with fill-in-the-blank audience, our prospects, our people, our leaders, our partners, our customers. You can say, Hey, I know a guy. He runs Craft and Compel, and what they do is they literally help people cut through the noise to engage the most valuable audiences.

I love the word cut through the noise, because I think it makes so much sense. We help organizations cut through the noise. So do your customers know what you do? Can they communicate the value you provide? If they can’t, competitor is probably gonna steal them away. If they can’t, it only takes a competitor to give them a better story than the one you’re giving them for them to look to jump ship. So customers second of your valuable audiences that you need to captivate.

Third is your prospects. We know that in order to get another R word revenue, our prospects have to be captivated, have to be engaged. Well, how do we do that? Well, number one is we have to make sure that both our marketing and sales teams are aligned. What I mean by that is, is that at Craft and Compel. We run these workshops that essentially we talk about, how do we create green space for our sales teams and our marketing teams to come together and say, what is a qualified lead?
How are we bringing those leads in? How do we make sure that after they’ve read the website and they’ve received some of the inbound marketing tools, how do we make sure that sales carries on that narrative that carries on that story so they’re not confused? Oh, I thought you guys did this. Oh, I thought you guys offered this. We don’t want those types of conversations because they’re losing faith in who we are. So we have to make sure that there’s alignment between sales and marketing. Now let’s talk about them, individually.

Marketing needs to invite your prospects into a community. Typically it’s gonna be an online community, but sometimes it’ll be an in person community. If marketing isn’t inviting them to come and join the community. You remember what I said at the very beginning with being a sports fan, you automatically get a community of other Dallas Cowboys fans. I automatically get a community of other St. Louis Cardinals fans. I would even say broadly, there’s a community of baseball fans, and there’s a community of football fans. Now here’s the wild one. I’ve been a soccer fan, my entire life. Talk about a tight-knit community. Talk about language about offsides, penalty kicks, corner kicks, handballs, world cup, a very tight-knit language, that for a long time, people just didn’t know a lot of it.

So when you think about that type of community, your organization needs to roll out a community that your customers or that your prospects can say, I deal with that, oh, they know what we’re going through. They understand my story, and I wanna be involved in their community. That’s what your marketing should do.
Then sales can reach into that community and offer results through products and services that you have. So your sales team, your sales deck, your marketing, all have to be in alignment on the story that you’re telling, as well as you need to invite them into a community, Events in a community, online community, social community whatever, all the different things that you want to offer, but they have to be invited into a community and not feel pressured when they show up to that community to buy something. The idea is that some people need more context, so that they can receive your content in a way to say, I trust these people. They know my story. Now I want to hear their story, so then the organization yourself can communicate, what’s gonna be our future story together.
The last group, the last high-value audience. And this may seem strange because if you’re listening to this, this may be your role, is leadership. Our internal leaders. Now, I don’t like to say this is only C-suite, but I do like to think of it as leaders that have decision-making power. So whoever that might be in your organization, it could be a manager, or it could only be a CEO, only a VP or president of a company.

Your leaders must be engaged, must be captivated, must be communicating the narrative of the organization. And I wanna give you a quick story to illustrate this, very powerful story.

So I worked at a Chick-fil-A in college and Dan Cathy, who’s Truett Cathy’s son. He won it, or he stayed at a Ritz Carlton. And when he stayed at the Ritz Carlton, he went downstairs to get a cup of coffee. And there was a stand inside, the Ritz Carlton. And I don’t remember if this employee was part of the Ritz Carlton or part of another company, but he gets us coffee and he tells them, oh, thank you so much.

And what does this person, this gentleman say, this young kid said to him, oh, it’s my pleasure. And he said, what’d you say? Well, it’s my pleasure. And he, Dan, was so taken back by that, that he thought we need to say that, we need our customers to know that it’s our pleasure to serve them. Now as a leader, this is how the story goes. Dan takes it back to Truett. They say, Hey, I wanted to talk about all of our Chick-fil-A operators. Wanna be at the next kickoff meeting national sales meeting. And I wanna tell them all, Hey, this is the language we’re gonna start to use. Well, he does it year one. Guess what? No change, no change at all. They’re not saying it. He said, why aren’t people saying it? We told ’em. We want them to say my pleasure every time someone says, thank you.

We wanna say, Hey, this is my pleasure. My pleasure to serve you today. If you’re ever eaten at a Chick-fil-A, you always get a my pleasure.
Well, year two, Dan goes to the meeting. He says, Hey, I thought we talked about this last year, but we want to say my pleasure. We want our customers to know they’re more than just a customer. That it’s our pleasure to serve them, because we want them to get customer service at Chick-fil-A better than all the other competing fast food restaurants. Well, he doesn’t hear it. So he gets this idea. Well, I, as the leader am going to have to show up every time I go into a Chick-fil-A and I’m gonna have to be the one to communicate that narrative, to tell that story. That it’s my pleasure. So what happened? Well, as you can imagine you know, as an heir to the throne of Chick-fil-A, Dan would go and people would know Dan, Cathy, and they would say, thank you.

And every time they would say, thank you about anything, he would always say, oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. And he began to say it over and over and over and over. And he began to tell the leadership. I’ve been saying this in every Chick-fil-A that I go into.
Year three, goes to the meeting and says, you’ve been hearing me say this. You know how it’s made you feel, we are going to say this. And it finally takes shape and form. And now Chick-fil-A says it all the time.

Now, why do I tell you that? Because the leaders need to be so engaged that when they’re at a Ritz Carlton or they’re at a hotel, and they hear someone say something or do something that sparks interest, that shocks them, that says, oh, I love that. They then need to show that, take action in that, if they wanna see change in the organization. I feel like today that we have too many leaders that think as long as they tell a really good story, that people will just buy into the story and start doing it.
But really every audience, our people, our sales people, our employees, every audience needs to know that the storyteller believes in the story that they’re telling. So that means that that leader has to live that out. Well, I want a lineman in all my leaders. I want them all living out our core narrative. I want them all living out this story that we are trying to communicate to our customers, the story we’re trying to communicate to our people, the story that we’re trying to communicate to our prospects, and those organizations that, you know, off the top of your head are like, oh, they’ve got great culture. Or, I mean, they’re not having any problem hiring people. It’s because there’s an alignment from the leadership down of a core narrative of a strategic story being told everywhere. And those leaders make sure to live that out. They believe it. And they’re passionate about it. And if they’re not, then like John Gordon says, they’re probably not, they shouldn’t be on your bus if they don’t buy into it.
And we want leaders that are buying into a narrative that they’re communicating, that they’re living out, that they’re excited to tell a customer, that they redirect and they guide the people in the organization to come back to. It literally is the north star, the compass to say, okay, our organization is supposed to be making sure that we create better lives for people. Are we doing that? Is this product doing that? Did we do that in that service call? Did we do that for that customer? Did we create a better life in the way that we communicated in that really tough conflict that we had with them? Did we make sure they had a better life? You know, when we retained them as a client. And so you, you begin to use that. And that is where our leaders come in. Now, once again, I believe in the core strengths product, something we use, and that is relationship intelligence, because there is a proper way, an alignment way to make sure that we’re communicating to our audience the way that they need to hear the story, the messaging, the narrative. They need to hear it in their way of what they value and what they’re motivated by.

So as leaders, we need to make sure that our leaders are engaged and we do that by making sure that they are passionately living out the core narrative and the story that the organization is about. And they do that everywhere. And that it’s not fake, that it is genuine, that these are leaders that people can believe in. They are not the hero, but they are the guide. We don’t need leaders who are heroes. We need leaders that are guiding other people, so that they could be heroes. We don’t need salespeople as heroes. We need them to be a guide to help customers, to help prospects feel like they are a hero. And so in your organization, we do that through strategic storytelling.
Remember that every one of these audiences is dealing with noise, very personalized noise. There’s a reason why there’s an algorithm at TikTok. There’s an algorithm and Instagram. There’s an algorithm on Facebook. There’s an algorithm on Amazon, because now not only are we offering noise, we’re offering specific, personalized, individualized noise based on your habits. And so when that happens, we linger longer. When that happens, we find ourselves down some rabbit holes. When that happens we get hooked on some specific ads, messaging, words, followers, influencers, fill in the blank.

Why? Because they’re creating community for us. So every organization needs to make sure that they are creating a community for our people, creating a community for the customers, creating a community for the prospect, and giving the leaders the ability to create community internally. One that they believe in, because remember all of these audiences, you are losing their attention in the micro moments. If you want a macro outcome of them taking action, whether that’s buying, whether that’s a referral, whether that’s retention, whether that’s leading, whatever that action is that I need them to do, we have to make sure that our narrative and that our story and that our communication is very clear and that our relationship is aligned, because you can tell the greatest story in the entire world, but if your audience doesn’t believe in the story teller, you’ll fail. And remember the best story is the one that will win the attention of the audiences.

Lastly, as we have been talking about strategic messaging, strategic storytelling for sales and for marketing and for your leadership, you may be in a situation right now where you’re saying Chris, I have an audience, my people that feel like they’re disengaged, pandemic staffing issues, the great resignation, whatever that might be. How do I get them re-engaged? Or you’re like, I’m losing customers. I’m not retaining them. I’m not getting referrals outta my customers. Or my prospects, our revenues are down. My salespeople aren’t communicating clearly. My sales and marketing teams aren’t working aligned, and they don’t have a clear picture of what is a qualified lead. What is a lead? How are we defining that? Or, you know what, Chris, my leaders, aren’t inspiring people. My leaders aren’t communicating in a way where we have cohesiveness. In fact, I have leaders that are in conflict that are quarreling, that have different ideas. They have different future, different plans. We’re going through change management. I can’t get my leaders to get the people to buy-in.

Whatever those things are, remember that the first thing that is always going through every one of these people’s heads is they are telling themselves a story. And you have to understand this simple formula. What is their story? How do we build alignment by telling them our story? And then lastly, how do we communicate a better future story than the one that they are telling themselves right now?

Thanks for listening to this. Week’s BTG Contributor Wednesday, and please connect with me at or on LinkedIn or any of these social channels. It has been a pleasure being a contributor with BTG, and we look forward to the future and your continued listening to this podcast, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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CW 107: Chris Watson