Unlocking the Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Organization’s Flavorful ‘Why’

Growing up, I was a very picky eater. I don’t think I discovered that I liked ice cream until I was about 10 years old. (I know – I was a strange kid…)

My Dad loves to recount how when I was this age and still exploring my new world of ice cream, I would ask whatever scoop professional was waiting on us if I could have a taste of … the vanilla. I’m not sure if it was because I wanted to make sure it tasted like the other vanillas or if it was because I had a hard time making decisions. (OK, truth – I still do.)

I’ve since expanded my palette (though vanilla is still a favorite), but making decisions can still cause me angst.

This is why I can relate when clients come to me with the need to create a video for their organization but aren’t sure of the best direction to take.

Recently, I had one such client who wanted videos to promote their foundation that focuses on a rare disease. We met several times, brainstorming different angles and approaches, but they were still not able to decide on the best idea.

I realized that there was a bigger issue at hand. They did not have a well-defined mission and strategy to achieve their organization’s goals. Did they exist to provide support to those suffering from the disease? Was their main goal to raise awareness of the disease? Or were they most focused on research and finding a cure? What was most important?

Rather than convince them to do one type of video over another, I suggested that they work with a strategy professional first to get clear on their organization’s mission.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, take these steps first, as recommended by my colleague and experienced strategist Ann Quinn:

Revisit Your Organization’s Mission
Your organization’s mission should clearly describe who it serves, its products or services, and the difference it makes. If your current mission statement doesn’t achieve this, spend time bringing it up to date. Once your mission is on point, you’ll have defined your audience, offering, and impact – the necessary facts for making sure your organization’s story is on point. 

Figure Out Your Organization’s Why
Defining your organization’s “why” in tandem with its mission will provide additional inspiration for storytelling. Start by asking: Why does my organization exist? This simple question will help you focus on the purpose that drives your organization forward and the passion that fuels the work you and your team do. Refine your why until it sounds as special as your organization. After all, this is the entire reason your organization exists and it shouldn’t feel like it could apply to just any organization.

Talk With Key Stakeholders Facilitating a robust discussion about your organization’s mission and “why” with key stakeholders will help you in two ways. First, if this group doesn’t agree on the most foundational elements of storytelling, it will be much harder to communicate to a broader audience. Second, without the consensus of this group, it can be difficult to move forward with major communication initiatives.

With the video above for my client at Sibley Hospital, there were many ways we could have told the stories of their patients with sarcoma, a rare cancer that begins in the bones and often results in the loss of a limb. They could have talked about how hard it is to receive this diagnosis or the difficulties of having an amputation. But they were clear from the start – their hospital had expertise in a very unique and novel surgery specifically for sarcoma patients called osseointegration and they wanted other patients to understand how survivors were thriving after having it.

As you can see, the key to creating an effective video is to be clear on your organization’s mission and strategy before you begin. As you think about your next video project, make sure you have a clear strategy in place before you begin. If you need help getting started with strategy, read Quinn Strategy Group’s Why Revisit Your Why Right Now.

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