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You’ve finished your business or competitive landscape analysis, but you’re not quite done yet. You’ve learned how to determine key takeaways and carve your landscape analysis into something very relevant and meaningful to your audience. But there’s one more finishing step to tell the story that you want.
How to Turn a Landscape Analysis Into a Story
I suggest that we back up to the beginning first. Before you write the final draft of the landscape, let’s do a strategic exercise—much like an exercise you might do when you’re writing a creative brief for advertising.
Future Desired Action
Starting with the end in mind, look at your desired action. Consider the action that you want the audience to take, and the belief that needs to be created in their mind in order to garner that action. What is it that you want them to do next once they’ve read it?
Future Single Takeaway
Now, if the audience is going to take that desired action, what’s the one single takeaway you need them to think once they leave the room? This needs to be a simple, single takeaway.
Current State Action
Next, look at the current state of your target audience or key stakeholders that are going to be in the room. What is it that they’re doing now instead of your desired action?
Current State Mindset
Then, corresponding with that, what does your audience believe now? What is it that results in them doing the action they’re doing now, or possibly having inaction versus doing what you would like them to do?
Once you have where you want to take them and their starting point, you have to fill in the in-between. This is what your landscape analysis does through its headlines. The headlines create a story that moves the audience from their current state to your desired action. Start by writing your most important key conclusions. If you want someone to leave with your single takeaway, you may need them to believe these few things first.
Now you’ve laid out the high-level strategy for your landscape analysis. You have their starting point, where you want to take them, and some of the most important things you need them to believe by the end of the presentation.
The next step is to write your headlines and create your flow. You can use this process to edit a flow or a draft you’ve already started. Or, you could create something like this at the very beginning before you draft any headlines at all. Either is fine.
What most people do is start creating slides of information and then come back later to write headlines, or sometimes the headlines will just be descriptive of what’s on the slide. If you really want to tell a story and you have this strategy in mind, you’ll want to write your headlines without content.
You can open up a document in Word or Pages and write headlines in a row like an outline. A more physical way to do it could involve getting out blank sheets of paper in a stack and writing a headline on each one, then organizing them how you want. Or you can go straight into outline mode in your favorite presentation software and write them that way. The point is to write the headlines first to drive your conclusions and story. This helps you edit everything else out and bring the most important things to the surface.
The last thing to do is fill in supporting information on your slides. When you’re adding support for your slides, only include a point or two, just enough so that the audience believes the headline. Keep things simple and memorable. Once you have someone nodding in agreement to what you’re saying, you can move to the next slide. A chart-heavy, data-heavy slide that has tons of information will be far less effective than an approach that really simplifies, emphasizes a key stat and makes it more prominent.
Work the strategy, write your headline flow first, and then add minimal information to support the headlines. If you do, chances are you’ll have a well-crafted landscape analysis that tells the story you want. Not just a collection of information.
TEACH YOUR BRAND TEAM HOW TO WRITE A STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE ANALYSIS
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You might also like:
- Fill Gaps in Your Strategic Landscape Analysis
- Strategic Questions to Organize a Landscape Analysis
- How to Gather Key Takeaways for a Landscape Analysis
- Writing Great Landscape Assessments
- Brand Team Training
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow Kevin on LinkedIn.