How to Use Storytelling and Data to Power Your Internal Communication Business Case
Internal communicators are no strangers to challenges. After a year that brought unprecedented changes, with layoffs, reduced budgets and smaller teams, many IC pros are preparing to fight for more funding next year. Whether you're hoping to secure resources for agency support, new headcount, or tools to enhance communication and collaboration, this blog post is your guide to crafting a business case that will resonate with stakeholders and secure the budget you need.
Below are six steps to consider as you approach budget conversations for next year:
Step 1: Begin With the End in Mind
Every successful journey begins with a clear destination. Before making a compelling case for your IC budget, it’s important to map out your 2024 goals. What are the key objectives? How do they align with the broader organizational goals? What must happen next year? What can be deprioritized? Consider both the short-term and long-term objectives, and be specific in articulating the outcomes you aim to achieve.
Step 2: Understand Your Stakeholders
To be persuasive, you need to know the ins and outs of whom you’re persuading. Learn about and understand your stakeholders – the individuals or teams who hold the purse strings. What are their priorities? Worries? What type of data sway their opinion? Do they like a long debate or numbers on the page? Tailor your message to resonate with each stakeholder’s interests and concerns.
💡Pro-Tip: Getting buy-in starts before your business case. Take time to build relationships so that when you need to make a case for budget, you have some champions in your corner and insight into how other stakeholders operate.
Step 3: Build the Business Case
Use Data Strategically
Your business case shouldn’t be a data dump. Carefully select data points that will speak to the pain points of your stakeholders. This data may be from your communication channels, employee surveys or engagement metrics, to name a few. The data you highlight can be quantitative, qualitative or a mix of both – but remember to choose carefully. A data dump is distracting and can dilute your point. (You can always stick extra data points in your Appendix!)
Highlight the Consequences of Inaction
Sometimes, the most persuasive argument is showcasing what happens if your budget request isn’t approved. Emphasize the risks and missed opportunities if your communication efforts remain underfunded. Paint a vivid picture of how your work can contribute to employee morale, retention and overall business success.
💡Pro-Tip: Check out this article from Asana to explore what else to include in your business case. We love the checklist at the bottom!
Step 4: Present the Case
Craft a Story
As internal communicators, we’re storytelling experts. Don’t forget to use those skills to craft a compelling narrative around your budget request. Frame it as an essential part of the organization’s journey and illustrate how it fits into the bigger picture. Your goal is to make stakeholders emotionally invested in your proposal and, by extension, your success.
Make it Visual and Personal
Utilize visual aids like infographics, charts and graphics to convey your message effectively. Additionally, personalize your presentation to each stakeholder, highlighting how the budget allocation would address their unique concerns and objectives.
💡Pro-Tip: Employees aren’t the only ones thinking about “What’s in it for me.” If you can share your case while also sharing how it would benefit your stakeholder in achieving their goals, you’ll be way ahead!
Step 5: Secure the Budget
Seek Support from Champions
Identify internal champions who can advocate for your cause within the organization. These advocates can be influential in securing the budget and rallying support from others.
💡Pro-Tip: Champions are great people to practice your pitch with! Sure, they’re on your side, but with a little encouragement, they can help you uncover gaps or identify questions you otherwise wouldn’t anticipate.
Engage in Open Dialogue
Don’t view your presentation as a one-way pitch. Encourage open dialogue and questions. Be prepared to address concerns and offer compromises if necessary. Be flexible in your approach and show your willingness to collaborate.
Step 6: Highlight Your Success
After securing the budget, it’s imperative to demonstrate the impact of your efforts. Use quantitative and qualitative data to illustrate how your work contributes to the organization’s success. Highlight success stories, employee testimonials, and any metrics showcasing your communication initiatives’ positive outcomes. You want to remain a good investment, and showing receipts can help you build a reputation internally, making future budget chats easier.
💡Pro-Tip: A nice data-backed and highly visual slide might be all you need to share to show you’re a good value. Set up a dedicated meeting or casually drop it into an unrelated discussion with those whose approval and support secured the budget along the way.
WE BELIEVE IN YOU!
In the world of internal communication, your work is a linchpin holding the organization together. Crafting a compelling business case for your budget is not just about securing funds; it’s about ensuring that your voice is heard, your goals are recognized and your contributions are valued. With dedication, empathy and a strategic approach, you can make a compelling case for the resources you need.
If you and your team could use a little help telling data-backed stories, we have two workshops (and toolkits) that will help. Numbers to Stories focuses on effective data visualizations, while Numbers to Narratives provides step-by-step guidance on how to build an effective business case using your data. We use and love both, and we’re damn good at it, too.
And if you just need help brainstorming your goals for next year, give us a call. We’re happy to jump on the phone and collaborate on a plan forward. Here’s to a better-funded 2024!