Help us with our annual conference: we’ve got a complicated agenda! We’re re-launching our brand, we’re trying to persuade our dealers to accept some very aggressive growth targets, there’s a brand new vehicle to talk about and half our audience needs some serious motivation after three years of declining sales.
ŠKODA has been a fairly traditional car brand, sold by traditional car dealers. There is a sense among key stakeholders that it’s been left behind. Not that its loyal customers would agree; they love the cars and the fact that they’re buying products that represent great value.
Moving into 2017 ŠKODA had injected new energy into the brand with a new, dynamic management team, with a new brand positioning and some great new products and technologies that brought the cars bang up to date. The 2017 sales conference was therefore a great opportunity to excite dealers behind these messages.
Once we’d gotten to grips with all the positive messages, we looked for a way to establish them as part of a single-minded communication.
The Strategic Narrative was an obvious solution; crafting the story of the journey that ŠKODA is on, gave us a context for all the different messages; it gave them a place to fit. It became very quickly the story of ‘the way we do things round here’ which is easily interpreted by dealers and head office teams.
The ŠKODA story acknowledges the brand’s strengths and challenges, giving a clear imperative for change and a credible plan to drive it. We created it by gathering its ingredients through a series of interviews with ŠKODA’s leadership team and one or two other stakeholders, so we built a comprehensive picture of the brand, its products, distribution, profitability and competition.
Having written and illustrated the story with original art from our own creative team, we aligned the ŠKODA management team behind it. They all believe in it passionately. We coached them to deliver it as the context for the conference, writing their speeches and illustrating them with personal examples to bring each message to life.
The team were brilliant! The ŠKODA story gave them a framework from which they derived the confidence to weave together a compelling, motivating narrative. What’s more, the story quite literally formed the background to the conference stage so it was easy to refer to the strategic journey and place conferences messages into context.
The post-conference questionnaire scores were among the highest we’ve ever seen, with more than 90% of attendees agreeing that the strategy was the right one for their business and more than 95% expressing confidence in the management team to deliver it.
The narrative is in daily use throughout the business and the dealer network. It’s a useful tool that allows team members at every level to assess the validity of their day-to-day work. If what they’re doing contributes to the journey described in the ŠKODA story, they’ll keep doing it. If not, they have a legitimate reason to question it.
This keeps everyone strategically focused and allows them to do more with less, because now very little effort and resource is wasted. The ŠKODA story has a role at nearly every meeting as a consistent point of reference; it’s also used as a key element of the induction process for new team members.
We developed the ŠKODA story in a ridiculously short time-frame, which would not have been possible without the complete commitment of the management team. They ‘bought’ the idea of the narrative and then committed wholeheartedly to making it happen. A decisive unit not afraid to make quick decisions is essential for fast turnarounds.
We learned that our Strategic Narrative tool is extremely flexible; able to accommodate a wide variety of disparate messages and present them as part of the same strategic development process. This gave our client team confidence in the strategy and equipped them to present it with impact.
Which in turn was the reason for the high level of confidence expressed by the dealer network in the ability of ŠKODA management to deliver the strategy: it just made sense when presented as the ŠKODA story.
And of course, being a story, it is easy to remember and re-tell, meaning that the wider network - the dealer teams that meet customers and sell ŠKODAs - are engaged with the strategy and motivated to deliver it.