Our strategy service lays those crucial foundations on which all else can successfully be built. It is here that we delve deep into the problem that you are trying to solve, the environment that you are operating in, and the DNA of the organisation itself. Our Discovery Process is a proven methodology for achieving this.
Our Discovery Process: finding your hidden story
Our Discovery Process has been developed over a number of years, and, as its name suggests, allows us to discover the key issues about, and fundamental character of, an organisation.
It is often most useful when an organisation has been grappling with an issue for a long time, or has become unsure of its purpose. What we often find is that the answer has been there all the time. It just has to be unearthed.
At one level, it is very simple: we talk to people and ask them what they think. But what happens, if you spend enough time with enough people, is that a very comprehensive, nuanced picture emerges.
We dig deep into the organisation’s DNA, by talking to people within the organisation, people who are in its orbit, and people who have little or no knowledge of it. We find that interviews provide the best format to achieve the deepest investigation and stakeholder engagement. These are supplemented with group workshops where appropriate.
Those conversations inform our understanding, but they aren’t the limits of our insights. We look around at what other organisations – peers and those in completely different sectors – can teach us. We also review the existing communications across all the channels. Typically, the Discovery Process will also reveal additional strategic insights that can help the client to achieve their goals.
All the findings and recommendations are then provided in a written report and summarised in a screen presentation. Importantly, the report also includes an outline creative brief on how all the findings should be implemented across the range of communication channels used by the client.
This latter part is a vital stepping-stone to the practical implementation of telling your story. We are always intent on avoiding the bane of all reports – that they stay just that, gathering metaphorical dust. We avoid that through the thoroughness of the process, which means the recommendations are correctly founded, and by always operating within the context of real-world practicalities.
The result is that the recommendations have been implemented very successfully.
The benefits of diverse thinking
When we tackle a problem, we do so drawing on the experience of more than 2 decades in the field from each of our principals. We also have a fantastic range of additional ‘heads’ who comprise our very talented Collective. Because we have this flexible set-up, that means we can choose from the whole mix of solutions, not restrict ourselves to the ones that make use of our in-house (and expensive) resources. It also means we can add resources whenever the scale of the task requires it, without having to constantly feed work to make use of the in-house resources we’re paying for.
At the heart of our strategic approach is our belief that you have to a coherent strategic spine around which all your communications are built. That spine, that central thought, must mean something important to your audience, not be just a bland mishmash of buzzwords. In other words, you must stand for something.
It is that approach which provided the ‘Change the World’ positioning for UCL Engineering, providing the foundation for the regeneration of the faculty to the point where it has become UCL’s largest net revenue contributor. It was also fundamental to the relaunch of Nerve Tumours UK, the repositioning of Tavistock and Portman Health Trust’s courses offering, and the re-focus of Imperial Health Care Partners’ Discover project.
We believe that you have to be distinctive to get any attention or cut-through in a world where everybody is bombarded by communications. But distinctiveness for its own sake is pointless – it has to be part of building a cumulative, compelling story in each member of the audience’s mind.
We show on this site numerous examples of how we make this objective come true in practice – for clients like Crisis, Natural History Museum, RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), UCL Engineering, Paperweight, Stop Bombing Hospitals, and many others.
We are always looking for new and innovative ways to engage and excite the audience. Examples include a video invitation for an annual fundraising dinner for Langdon (a learning disabilities charity), and 3-D video holograms which were sent to prospective students for UCL Engineering.
We work across all the various online and offline channels, including the physical environment. Examples of the latter are massive shoes which we placed in the streets of Vienna for the visiting European Cancer Organisation, and an exhibition which we built for Langdon. Our work is designed to have a strong central idea, and a design coherence, which works in every channel – from print to social media and all points between.
We have worked on capital projects raising tens of millions of pounds, multi-year campaigns raising tens of millions of pounds, to individual campaigns raising just tens of thousands. But whatever the scale and the cause, they have certain facets in common.
Foremost of these is understanding – really understanding what drives the donor, and how what you are pitching can press their buttons. If you don’t know the answer to either of those questions, you are very unlikely to be successful. One way we can get that information is through our Discovery Process described above. With this, we get under the skin of the donors, as well as other stakeholders, and get a refined, nuanced sense of how the charity needs to present itself.
This provides the platform for the next crucial part of the giving infrastructure: telling the story. The communications need to come from a very coherent story about what the cause is, why you should care, and how you personally can make a difference. If any one of those three facets is unclear, or unconvincing, then no sale will be made.
It is also vital that this isn’t seen as one piece of communications in a vacuum, but part of a narrative that is consistent in its central theme, but always changing in its execution.
So, we home in on the heart of the appeal. We then keep refreshing that story in new and creative ways. And it pays off, for example by raising the revenue achieved by a charity at its main fundraising event by 62% over 2 years. And with a legacy campaign that achieved a return on investment of more than 30:1. We have also worked on capital campaigns that have raised millions of pounds, including one that raised more than £50m.
Businesses and social purpose
Increasingly, almost to the point of it becoming a truism, businesses today need to understand that their role in the world cannot be defined by the bottom line alone, that their obligations are not just to their shareholders but also to their customers, their suppliers, their employees and the wider community. Businesses that do understand that are also overwhelmingly the most successful in terms of the bottom line.
So this isn’t a trade-off. And part of that mission is telling that story to each of the stakeholders, not in a boring, ‘virtuous’ way but, like all communications, in a way that engages the audience and is authentic.
Whether we are working for multi-national corporations like the Pentland Group, or companies working for community benefit like Luton Rising, the challenge is the same: find the essence of the organisation’s social purpose story, and tell that story with verve.
We help charities talk to businesses in a language that makes sense to them, and help businesses form meaningful relationships with charities. We are particularly focused on how businesses can engage their employees with social purpose.