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In my article “Get the budget you need with a persuasive narrative,” I wrote about a systematic way you can make sure that the narrative you include in your budget presentation actually tells the story you want to tell and supports your case for the budget you need.
In this article, let’s look at a (hypothetical) example of a narrative.
An example of a narrative: domino’s pizza.
Let’s consider Domino’s Pizza. Whatever you think of their pizza, whether or not you were impressed by their famous ads of 2009 showing customers saying horrible things about the pizza, whether you thought the pizza was better after they redid their recipes, whether you never even noticed – one thing that’s true about Domino’s is that they have a strong position in the digital and mobile space.
Domino’s is a pizza company and a tech company.
By December 2009, Domino’s Pizza had “the biggest Web ordering portal in the pizza industry,” noting that “online customers are more loyal, they order more and more often and they order more items when they do order.”1 By September 2010, Domino’s was the #4 e-tailer in the country.2 By October 2010, they had a pizza-ordering app that ran on about 95% of smart phones, and 35% of their global digital sales per year were driven by mobile.3
And, as I write this article, they’re still going strong. In October 2014, Domino’s CEO J Patrick Doyle said, “Great people, food, service and technology have helped us deliver another strong quarter of global sales and profits [emphasis added].”4
In other words, as is probably not news to you, Domino’s has become as much a technology company as it is a pizza company. Whatever product or service your company provides, it could also become a tech company in the same way Domino’s has.
A hypothetical narrative: mark and his three football-watching buddies.
Back to our (hypothetical) example of a narrative. Suppose you were a visionary at Domino’s in, say, 2008. The housing bubble has burst, the recession has started, discretionary spending is down. Meanwhile, you have an idea for an app that would be challenging and fun to work on, using a new language and development environment you’ve been learning about. Now you need to get the budget for developing this app, which is an app for customers to order pizza.
So you ask the marketing department to tell you everything you need to know about the typical Domino’s customer (of course, if you were doing this now instead of our hypothetical 2008, you’d be running analytics on big data). Then, you do some quick googling to find out how many pizzas the average person orders in a year, and how much a mobile app tends to increase sales for competitors, or in similar markets.
Then you construct a narrative about a hypothetical customer:
“Mark, white, age 25, is watching an NFL playoff game with three buddies. The excitement of the game makes them hungry, so they decide to order pizza. Mark has seen our marketing about the ease of use of our app, so he tries it. In 55 seconds, he’s ordered three large pizzas: one pepperoni, one sausage and mushrooms, one ham and green peppers.5 In 30 minutes, the pizzas are at the door, and the four football-watching buddies devour them all before the end of the next quarter.
“Mark is so impressed with his experience using the app, that of the 21 pizzas he orders in the next year, he orders two more from Domino’s than he would have before. So do his three buddies.
“There are approximately 4,000,000 25-year-old men in the U.S. If 7% of them order two more pizzas from Domino’s per year, then same-store revenue will grow by $X” (where X is, of course, 4,000,000*.07*2*Y, where Y is profit per large pepperoni pizza).”
You include, in your presentation, some stock photos you got from marketing, showing four 25-year-old men enjoying Domino’s pizza. Then you present your budget for developing the pizza-ordering app, and show how quickly sales will grow and the expenditure will be re-couped.
The point of using a narrative.
The point of using a narrative is to make clear, simply and powerfully, the benefit of the app to your company. You do this by including a narrative, a hypothetical but truthful account of how the company’s customers will be better off. A story is easier to remember, and more impactful, then all of the facts about how challenging and fun it would be to develop the app. If you present a memorable, impactful narrative, you’re more likely to get the budget to develop the app – and enjoy the challenge and fun of developing it.
1. “Domino’s Pizza reshaping online ordering system, hiring Ann Arbor software employees,” Ann Arbor News, 27 December 2009. http://www.annarbor.com/business-review/dominos-pizza-reshaping-online-ordering-system-hiring-ann-arbor-software-employees/ Retrieved 17 November 2014. back to article
2. “Domino’s online pizza ordering system boosts profits by 23%,” Detroit Free Press, 7 September 2010. http://www.freep.com/article/20100907/BUSINESS06/9070353/1002/Business/Pizza-lovers-turning-to-the-Internet. Retrieved 17 November 2014. back to article
3. “Technology, Not Pizza, Helps Domino’s Crush Competitors And Grow Faster Than McDonald’s Overseas,” Forbes, 15 October 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2013/10/15/technology-not-pizza-helps-dominos-crush-competitors-and-grow-faster-than-mcdonalds-overseas/ Retrieved 17 November 2014 back to article
4. Piping Hot: Domino’s Surges On Pizza Growth,” Forbes, 14 October 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2014/10/14/piping-hot-dominos-surges-on-pizza-growth/ Retrieved 17 November 2014. back to article
5. Info on popular pizza types from http://dominosbiz.com/Biz-Public-EN/Site+Content/Secondary/About+Dominos/Fun+Facts/ Retrieved 17 November 2014. back to article