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Powerful Mission Statements – What? Why? How? – Part II

By Andrew Ardron on Wed 04 August 2010 in Marketing

In  Part I,  we discussed the What, Why, How of powerful mission statements. In this second part, we are going to focus on how to construct a succinct, yet powerful mission statement.

I have personally tried lots of different ways of structuring a mission statement, and here is the most useful and easiest format – it actually requires 3 statements:

– What?
– Why?
– How?

What do you stand for? Why is that important? How do you deliver upon it?

Good Examples

Examples are always useful, so lets take an example hotel – Hotel A What? Ours, is the friendliest place to stay in the world

Why?  Because too many hotels simply don’t care enough

How? We treat every single customer, as a friend, come to stay for the night – we will go out of our way to make you welcome as well as comfortable.

Or in another hotel – Hotel B

What? A hassle-free stopover for those in a hurry

Why?  Because you don’t want a long check-in and you certainly don’t want a slow check-out when it’s time to leave

How? You won’t have to queue when you arrive and we guarantee no queuing to checkout in the morning – whatever time you need to leave. We even offer our unique breakfast-to-go package.

I don’t want to repeat the underpinning principles of What? or Why? from Part I, but let’s just pause to compare these examples before trying to write our own. The point of these examples is that they are both good examples but both very different. As a customer, you would know which hotel suits you (or your current trip) and which one doesn’t. Equally importantly, if you worked for either hotel, you would know how to act – whether to chit-chat at the check-in desk or to be quick and efficient. And ultimately, that’s the main point – if you ran Hotel B – you wouldn’t hire a receptionist who could talk the hind leg off a donkey!

Writing your own

In reality, there isn’t much more to say, these examples pretty much say it all. But here is your action plan:

  1. Write down in one short sentence what your business delivers – not the product but the benefit (note – there is no mention of hotel in either example).
  2. Test your sentence. Do you believe this? Would this attract you? Would this attract your best customers? Does it set you aside from your competitors? If the answer to any of these is no, go back to step 1.
  3. Why do you believe this first sentence sets you apart? What made you create a business like this? If you are struggling, try to define what is missing in your customer’s life – why they need you to be different to everyone else.
  4. How do you intend to make this difference – typically not talking too much about the product – more about how you deliver it.
  5. Review it again and again over several days, but importantly keep each iteration. It is easy to simply start making it too long, or putting too many different things in, or just becoming too bland.
  6. Forget it for a day or two and then pick the best of the many iterations. If in doubt, pick the most extreme one!
  7. Then Love it and Live it. And make sure all your staff do too.

One Last Example

For one final example, here is mine from ProspectSoft – a CRM and Web Solutions company:

What? – We will genuinely help you to grow your business

Why? – Because we know that far too many companies spend good money implementing unfocussed software projects that simply don’t deliver any significant business benefit

How? – By making the effort to understand how you intend to grow your business and how our software could help implement this change, and then focussing 100% on making sure we jointly achieve that growth.

Do we live and love this mission statement? Yes we do – we aren’t perfect and we could always do better, but we put real effort into focussing on how we can help customers grow their business – not in just trying to sell more software – because ultimately we know that if we help customers to grow their business (and our software is right for them) then they will buy more and more from us – it works this way round – the reverse would be doomed from the start.

Follow-up work

My final tip on mission statements – to kick start the Living and Loving – is to work it into your recruitment process (will this person help or hinder the delivery of our mission) and write your mission into the job description of each and every member of staff. For more on this, see my article on organisation charts and job descriptions.