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

By Andrew Ardron on Fri 23 July 2010 in Marketing

Find out how you can create a great mission statement for your business with these easy steps...

WHAT?

What is a powerful mission statement?

Are they worth having? What should they look like? Ask 100 people, get 100 answers. But seriously, there is plenty of myth and mayhem surrounding mission statements. So, what is a powerful mission statement?

A Powerful Mission Statement defines what a business stands for, why a customer should consider dealing with this business (as opposed to its hundreds of competitors) and how this business goes about delivering on that promise.

WHY?

Why have a mission statement?

Your mission statement is there to be loved and lived – by you, your staff and your customers.

There is no point in writing a mission statement for the MD, or director’s benefit. Nor in fact (contrary to popular opinion) is it just a clever few words to con a few customers into picking up the phone. As with most things in business, anything that shallow will be transparent and worthless.

A mission statement has to define the business, how its staff act, how it treats its customers, how its customers will remember the business and how they will talk to others about you.

And ultimately that’s the point – for a business to be successful, customers need to want to come back, time and again, ideally tell others about you…and they won’t do that for no reason…there has to be a VERY GOOD REASON INDEED for a customer to come back and bring others to your door. Think about your own personal buying habits – there are loads of purchases that you would be happy to make anywhere, but there are a few favourite restaurants, hotels, boutiques, cars, or whatever that you would go back to time and again.

Now, here’s the rub – as a customer, you don’t return to a business time after time because you have read the mission statement and thought it was snappy, you go back because the staff in that business, from the MD to the receptionist have read, understood, digested, loved and lived the mission statement, each and every time you dealt with them.

i.e. if the mission statement says “with a smile” and you are the sort of person that responds to a genuine smile – then you will become a fan of that business – not because it was written in the mission statement, but because it was written on the faces of each and every staff member you met.

Or, for another example, if the mission statement says “fast and efficient” then you might be a fan of this business if you get your deliver before 9am the next day at no extra charge – you wouldn’t be fan if the mission statement promised fast and efficient but you still got your delivery no faster than you would from anywhere else.

So that’s it – don’t write a mission statement unless you BELIEVE in it – really believe. Don’t write one unless you are prepared to stand up and make your staff believe it – hire staff on the basis of whether they fit it, and if necessary part company from those who can’t be convinced. Don’t write one to impress the customer. Do write a mission statement to bring your team together and align your whole business in one set of beliefs – that if delivered upon will make a certain set of customers into life-long fans.

HOW?

How to write a powerful mission statement.

Okay, lets NOT get hung up right now on how to write a succinct mission statement – the words are not the key – the sentiment is. The first thing to do is to determine your belief – what do you believe you should be giving your customers? What do you believe will make customers into life-long fans? What, if you gave it to them, would make your customers tell others to come to you?

Before I wrap up, here are a couple of final rules:

1. Don’t fall into the trap of coming up with something bland – good service, best price, etc. forget it unless you really, really mean it, and your customers will really, really want it.

2. Make sure YOU believe it – to make a real success of your business, go to the top and become famous, someone is going to have to drive, cajole and lead every member of your team to deliver on that mission – and they (as well as your customers) will know if you are a phoney.

3. Become a fanatic. If you aren’t prepared to be fanatical about the beliefs underlying your mission, then you can’t expect anyone else to believe in it – even a little bit.

If there is one thing I want you to remember with developing a business, it’s this: Don’t be a phoney – stand for something you believe in, then make sure you become a fanatic.

Oh yes, how to actually write and communicate a powerful mission statement? Well there is an easy way, but you will have to wait for Part II for that. You won’t have to wait long, I promise. In the meantime – search long and hard for what you believe in – you need to figure that out first anyway.