Telling the Right Story to Win Hearts and Minds

“Technology always wins.” Wind Farm 2

That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway – especially those of us whose businesses operate directly in a space like the burgeoning clean technology sector.

If an innovative young entrepreneur develops a new technology that is truly disruptive, the thinking goes, the reliable evolution of a successful company will follow. Right?

Sadly, not always.

In my own work helping technology companies move from lab to commercialization and ultimately toward their targeted exit strategy, I see it all the time: a great technology fails because the innovators don’t tell the right story. Businesses today have so many channels to communicate, but winning support still comes down to fundamentals of engagement. Facts alone won’t do the job, and superior technology does not always win out if unaccompanied by a storyline that connects with an audience on an emotional level.

Some companies hit all their gates, some don’t get out of the gate. Of course investors – or consumers, or federal program managers – will prefer those technologies that, by themselves, have compelling potential. But separating the sheep from the goats, as it were, is a highly subjective process. What has true market potential? What can actually scale?

Setting aside the technical analysis, I would submit that virtually every company that succeeds in advancing its technology has crafted an identifiable story. Sometimes this happens simply because the CEO is a dynamic personality, other times because circumstances surrounding the company’s development produced an organic narrative that resonates. Other times it happened because savvy advisors within the organization recognized the need to connect with the desired audience and took the necessary steps to craft an appropriate narrative.

It doesn’t stop with the creation of a compelling storyline. No company today can exert control over the story; rather the big stories are co-created by stakeholders who use social media to add more layers to the narrative. These digital denizens are critical to market awareness and thus need to be encouraged and embraced so that emerging clean technology can build the groundswell necessary to change the energy landscape.

So companies looking to win must rely on more than just compelling technology – they must connect their story to the minds and hearts of their audience. This audience will help shape the narrative, so companies engage them in a dialogue that will help make the case for clean technoloogy solutions we all know the world needs.

Contributed by Phil Greenough, President, Greenough Communications