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Lead to, Not with, Differentiation and Capabilities

by Hank Barnes  |  October 23, 2018  |  1 Comment

As those that read this blog know, I’m constantly talking about improving messaging through storytelling.   But you also know I’ve been talking about it for almost 6 years and see no end it sight.   It’s an area that seems like there will always be room for improvement.  As I think about all the ways that I’ve shared to be more customer centric in your communications, including:

  • Storytelling Structure (Situation-Impact-Resolution)
  • Having a Point of View (acknowledging Ken Rutsky’s work in this area)
  • The idea of giving customer’s the Context to Care and Compare
  • The problem with pulling threads
  • Commercial insights (following the Challenger Model)
  • and many more (just search my blog for storytelling if you are new to it–or for a reminder of posts from the past)

I realize that there may be an incredibly simple way to think about how to engage with customers with a compelling story.

The idea: Lead your audience to what makes you special rather than leading with what makes you special.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Get it?   All of the storytelling ideas start with the customer and their world, acknowledging the things they are dealing with.   From there, you share how you can help.  You lead them to it.

The converse, leading with, puts all the burden on the customer to figure out why they should care.   Even if they are already looking for products in a category, you should still lead them to what makes you special.  You may do that through Situation-Impact-Resolution models, or Commercial Insights, or by demonstrating a point of view, etc. etc. etc.

But in all cases, you are leading to your value, your differentiation, and your key capabilities, not with them.  Take a close look at your content and communications–do you lead with most of the time?  If so, try flipping the model.

Lead to.

Not With.

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: commercial-insight  differentiation  messaging  point-of-view  storytelling  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
5+ years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Lead to, Not with, Differentiation and Capabilities


  1. Ken R says:

    Indeed. On top of my storytelling, I’m now adding thinking “Conversationally”. And think about it, if we meet at a party and all I do is show you 100 pics of my “slightly above average” amazing 4 kids, you’ll be ready to run after the 3rd one. Sadly, that’s what vendors do, they love their kids and can’t stop talking about them, no wonder they get tuned out :)!!!



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