Thinking about the recent B Corp retreat—always an inspirational gathering that gets people fired up to push the movement forward—got me thinking anew about the importance to our own enterprise of selling the dream.
If you want to generate long-term support for your enterprise—and get people truly excited—you need to talk about your grand vision. As some of the most successful money raisers we’ve encountered point out, people invest more when they think they’ll make a big difference. Why? Big ideas are inspiring. They help people in your organization stay motivated. And they communicate that you’re ambitious.
Communicating about a grand vision goes beyond repeating your mission statement like a mantra. It’s a given that you will succinctly state your highest purpose. You also need to paint a picture of how you will make the world better: How will people’s lives, work or environment improve? What will that look like? RSF Social Finance, for example, seeks to transform the way the world works with money—and we’re helping them tell stories that illustrate how they’re doing that.
I’m not saying this is easy—you have to think carefully about how to sell a dream. Nonprofits tend to be practiced at planting their flag on a high peak, but sometimes fail to plot the route to the mountaintop. It’s fine to have a vision that would take decades to achieve, but it should be clear to everyone how the work you’re doing today contributes to that vision. Businesses, on the other hand, are generally more willing to make grandiose product claims than to state their grand vision. That’s unfortunate—while claims can be contested, aspirations are unassailable.
Don’t worry about seeming too ambitious. Some people probably will roll their eyes, but so what? No one ever gathered a big following with little dreams.
Get tips on the best ways to sell your dream—and on other proven communications strategies—in our Strategy>Shift report, 9 Ways to Make a Powerful Impression.