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Best practices for storytelling at Philips

Fenny Léautier, Head of MI&A, Personal Health at Philips is a passionate advocate for the Forrester storytelling method and the executive responsible for Philips’ market insights platform, Eureka.

At the ESOMAR storytelling webinar, Fenny shared best practices on combining the Forrester storytelling framework and Market Logic software to broadcast relevant stories to target audiences.

Digital-first at Philips

According to Fenny, Philips has an epic story to tell: improving the lives of 3 billion people by 2030. That narrative has become even more all-encompassing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as Philips accelerates the production of ventilators, steps in to support emergency services in Italy and Wuhan, and does what it can to improve life in lockdown with an arsenal of home cleaning and grooming kits. It all boils down to a huge shift in the impetus to improve lives by making home a better, safer place to be.

All of this takes place as Philips transforms to a “digital-first” culture at a speed no one could have anticipated. As an insights function, said Fenny, “we have to be adaptive and agile in bringing the relevant stories to our stakeholders at the right time to facilitate fast decision making.”

Three characteristics of a good storyteller

There’s too much data in too many different places, and decision-makers can’t pull it all together or properly leverage it. Insights experts need to synthesize data and guide key stakeholders to relevant insights – and storytelling is the way to do so in an engaging and memorable way.

Fenny highlighted three key characteristics of a good storyteller: audience understanding, empathy, and urgency. Great stories, she said, start with knowing your audience.

A good storyteller knows that a presentation to the CFO should include hard facts and figures, while a presentation to the Marcom team should include engaging visuals.

The second step is to think about creating empathy, or an emotional connection with your audience. What makes them tick? The best communications are able to answer and address that question.

The third step is the “what now?”, i.e. creating urgency around next steps. Less is more, said Fenny, when it comes to creating impact. It’s also important to know when important decisions are going to be made, and to be present for those key moments.

When it comes to the content of the story, good storytellers know how to connect the dots. They can take a bird’s eye view of a situation and understand why a piece of research is added to the corporate body of knowledge and what needs to be done to take it further.

Since most great solutions come from cross-functional collaboration, it’s also important to know how to build bridges across the organization. This has the added benefit of preventing research duplication and ensuring that information is easily accessible.

Democratize stories

Because customer-centricity is everything at Philips, the insights function needs to act as the customer’s objective voice while also making big picture connections to the greater business context. In early 2019, Fenny’s division realized that to do so, they need to be able to democratize stories and broadcast messages to the wider organization.

That’s when they piloted their market insights platform, Eureka. Eureka quickly became home to all data and insights that previously sat unopened on various SharePoint. She says the platform democratizes all of Philip’s knowledge with Market Logic technology and is one central platform for all research, syndicated sources, newsfeeds and stories, with self-service access for the business to find answers independently.

Above and beyond this grassroots access to knowledge, insights experts in Fenny’s team push curated content to targeted user groups in “narrowcast” channels.

Stories are organized and presented in visually engaging knowledge zones. For example, a Beauty Immersion Zone describes the category landscape, with chapters on key drivers including “self-care,” and “appearing effortlessly natural.” Says Fenny, “these zones are living, breathing entities – not some knowledge management deck that’s lost on a SharePoint.” They’re easy to create and update, and users are alerted when new content is added by the experts.

Initial results show that the business is hungry for new ways to ingest insights: from the initial pilot, usage rates are at 81% with tons of return visits and shares. Philips’ next step will include a global rollout to all five consumer businesses, as well as the B2B cluster with over 1,000 users and stakeholders.

The Eureka platform has helped Philips drive the democratization of insights in the marketing organization and has supported storytelling efforts to drive better decision making. And in the times of remote workforces being inundated with new, business-critical information on a daily basis, it’s even more important than ever to tell stories in succinct, engaging and meaningful formats.

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