STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM

Why it is important

Involving stakeholders in the process is critical for a successful project and market implementation.

At the end of the day, your strategy (in whatever guise) is transferred to the hands of employees, partners and suppliers, media and influencers, customers and communities, and lives or dies by them. 

There will be new things to know and do, and old things to stop doing. 

Develop your strategy in a bubble and it will die in the bubble. The sooner you bring people in across the business, the better, for development and ownership of the research and strategy, for changes in knowledge, experience and behaviour, and for alignment with the new and improved.

There are many different reasons to involve stakeholders at different levels of involvement: during research, strategy development, ideation and activation. 

Why involve employees

If you’re developing an employer brand, you need to understand what motivates employees, why they joined, stay and thrive in your organisation. You’ll need to ensure the employer brand strategy resonates with them. You’ll need their input into developing an employee experience that works for them and you’ll need them to understand how the strategy translates to their behaviours and everyday jobs. Ask us about SUMO Salad and NSW Department of FACS. 

If you’re developing a service brand, “how we go about it” is key to developing the brand strategy and you’ll understand that from your employees. They’ll also be the ones delivering the experience consistently (or not) against the brand promise. As us about Norton Rose Fulbright and Transport Cyber Security Advisory. 

For a product brand, you’ll need to involve production, logistics, legal, sales and finance teams to order the parts/ingredients in time, produce the products, develop a healthy P&L at a suitable price point, identify permissible and credible claims and proof and sell them into customers. Ask us about Glenfiddich and Unilever. 

For uncovering truths about the brand and innovation ideas for the brand, employees are also a great source. Think of the rich insights and ideas you’d find after talking to a Scottish Whisky Master Distiller or Tour Guide; the questions and feedback the customer service representatives receive; or simply asking employees to stand in their customers shoes. Ask us about Glenfiddich, Mars Sugar Team Innovation and Skittles packaging. 

For any project that involves change, new knowledge and behaviours need to be disseminated to employees through a comprehensive engagement program, with tools, training and support to cease the old and smoothly migrate to the new. Ask us about Glenfiddich, Westpac and TAFE NSW Riverina. 

Why involve customers

To some it may sound obvious but there are plenty of provocateurs who quote Steve Jobs that “customers don’t know what they want”. Whilst this exact point is true of most customers, Apple et al have always done research with customers to understand their segments, values and motivations, needs, unmet needs and pain points, as well as perceptions and experiences of your brand. They have also brought in prosumers or influencers to co-create new products and packaging designs. Ask us about Colonial First State, Larktale Prams and Metro trains. 

We engage customers to ensure the strategy works for them, and that the execution works for them – whether that’s a piece of advertising, a product or pricing. Ask us about SUMO Well NPD and Milo packaging. 

We ultimately want customers to engage with our brand, our communities, so involving representatives from our customer base throughout the process, gives the project its best chance for success.

Why involve partners and suppliers

Distribution partners can provide valuable insights into what customers actually do and questions they ask. Whilst they expect a level of expertise within the company about customer and category trends, they are also handy to interview in this process. If your company or the distribution company sells a portfolio of products, your distribution partners can help understand how you can obtain a priority position in the portfolio. Ask us about Glenfiddich. 

Similar for recruitment partners who can provide insights into what employees want and do, questions they ask, employment trends and help your organisation become higher on their priorities. Ask us about WSP Engineering. 

In both cases, simply involving them in the process will give them a sense of ownership of the brand.

For suppliers, you’ll want their input into supply chain improvements, innovation ideas, providing quality goods at viable price points. By bringing them on early in the process, you’re less likely to get to the end of the process and realise you can’t consistently deliver to your customers. Ask us about Unilever. 

Why involve communities, media and influencers

Involve communities when your strategy has an impact on them and you want them to be engaged in the execution. For an NFP, communities are the organisations’ lifeblood for donations as well as being recipients of services. For an organisation, communities may form part of the sustainability strategy. Either way, bringing communities into the process up front, testing the strategy and ensuring the experience delivered meets needs and expectations, will be critical to the success of your project. Ask us about CareFlight. 

Media and influencers who spread your message to customers and communities can also provide valuable input through the research stage to inform your strategy and involving them in ideation to ensure your message is sticky and spreads.  Engaging them up front, as with all stakeholders, gives them a sense of ownership and they’re more likely to spread the messages you want. Ask us about Wella Hair Care. 

How we go about it

Stakeholder engagement needs to be relevant and timely for that stakeholder.

With anything new – whether its a new product, business strategy or organisation transformation – engagement gives the stakeholder certainty, connection and a sense of ownership. 

Within the context of the brief, we will look at the audiences impacted by your project and look to involve them in the most effective way throughout the process: during research, strategy and planning for implementation. 

Please contact us to discuss further what we can do for you.