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By Brad Addison - CoFactor Managing Partner; and communication, engagement and reputation management specialist

Strategic positioning, via a clear company narrative, regular engagement and meeting stakeholder expectations all play a key role in influencing perceptions, creating connections and generating favourable stakeholder support.

What you communicate represents your organisation’s distinctive position in the minds of stakeholders. Positioning drives perception. Perception drives reputation. And a strong reputation among your stakeholders is fundamental to achieving your objectives. Organisations can proactively develop and manage their positioning by clearly communicating, engaging and influencing their key stakeholders.

Here are some of the ways your organisation can actively position itself

A clear company narrative

Build a strong strategic narrative
Don’t leave it to others to tell your story

How do you want your organisation to be perceived? A powerful strategic narrative deliberately positions the organisation and helps stakeholders understand it, its purpose and the journey it is on. Companies should create, review or refresh their narratives and do their utmost to remain in control of them. Don’t let your narrative be shaped or derailed by others - be it competitors, media, influencers or disengaged employees.

Start with the inside first
Educate and empower your employees 

Starting with employees, internal positioning has the power to make or break your success. If employees don’t understand the business, its strategy and the values and behaviours integral to its culture, companies will struggle to achieve competitive advantage. Internal positioning helps your employees become strong brand and company ambassadors and send the right signals to the external stakeholders whom they engage with every day. 

Regular engagement 

Ensure consistent engagement
Ensure the company is understood

A clear company narrative sets the direction, but positioning your company in the minds of your stakeholders is not a set and forget. Perpetual engagement is critical to shaping the dialogue about your organisation, ensuring it is understood. This calls for consistent communication and engagement to educate, inform and reinforce the role your organisation plays in your customers and stakeholders professional and personal lives. Companies should harness social media and generate compelling and shareable content to engage directly with their broad audiences.

Get in front of emerging issues
Carefully manage external perception 

Expectations of companies and their executives are changing rapidly. What was acceptable yesterday, can turn on you today and catch you off guard. Areas of risk are intensifying and accelerating and companies can find themselves on the back foot and forced into awkward apologies. Organisations must remain vigilant and regularly communicate with stakeholders to shape the narrative of any emerging issues to manage their perception. 

Meeting stakeholder expectations

Deliver on stakeholder expectations
A stakeholder issue is now a business issue

To build and maintain the perception that the company desires to hold in the minds of stakeholders, it must understand its stakeholders’ interests and deliver against their evolving expectations. This requires a constant focus on maintaining and building the support, endorsement and goodwill of your stakeholder base. 

Shape the views of your audiences
Create positive impressions

Positioning and managing perception is as much about influence as it is engagement.  Companies should identify strategic initiatives and generate insightful, compelling positions and arguments that deepen their positioning to drive favourable perception - creating impact, enhancing understanding and motivating action in support of the organisation’s objectives. 

Living your commitment

Your positioning needs to be authentic, strategically prioritised, lived consistently and rigorously measured. Above all, it’s about shaping the organisation’s narrative and building advocacy and authentic dialogue across multiple stakeholders. 

Interested to learn more?

CoFactor builds strategic positioning and engagement programs to create a favourable, credible perception in the minds of stakeholders. We help organisations and executives strengthen relationships, enhance social license and proactively build reputation.