Most brands have a mission statement. They are an important cornerstone in developing and declaring the strategy for your business. But they can only be effective if they have been written to answer key questions about how your organisation operates and delivers value.
Many business leaders struggle to create compelling mission statements, as can be seen by various organisations. This article looks at the importance of a mission statement and how you can easily craft a great mission statement that will define the strategy of your business.
Why are Mission Statements Important?
There are several reasons why crafting the best mission statement is important. They aren’t just words strung together to be placed on marketing material, they are a guide to various internal and external stakeholders about the core values of the business and how you will deliver them.
With a good statement you are setting behavioural boundaries for your brand. This helps your management team make important decisions and develop strategies in delivering your products. Your employees can also improve their delivery with a mission statement because it will align their behaviours. This will enable your employees to produce a consistent customer experience and will give them direction and motivation in their daily tasks.
Mission statements are also helpful during times of change. If you know what the core values of the business are, you know what to measure when evaluating the performance of the business. This can then be used to develop a strategy for improvement.
Mission statements also lessen the resistance to change often caused by team members feeling insecure and out of control. However, with a clear mission and set of objectives, your employees will see the value of changes and be more receptive to them.
Two Generally Bad Mission Statements
When writing missions statements, it is best to avoid two common mistakes. The first is stating the obvious. For instance, declaring that you want to offer quality products and great customer service is almost pointless. There are few, if any, businesses in the world that really want to offer poor customer service and products that break as soon as they are purchased.
This statement also says little about the core business behaviours and values, or how they deliver their products. Therefore, there is no direction provided to the team, which will often result in inter-department conflict as each takes on tasks as they see fit.
This statement is also too common. If there is nothing unique between two competitors, customers will have difficulty making purchasing decisions. This could mean you have to share customers as they randomly choose a company or they abandon the purchase altogether.
Another mission statement error is to create a long text that says nothing about the business or its activities. Yahoo’s statement is a perfect example: “Yahoo powers and delights our communities of users, advertisers and publishers – all of us united in creating indispensable experiences, and fuelled by trust.”
This statement also says little about who the target audience is and offers vague deliverables. Plus it also mentions trust and indispensable experiences which are common goals and do not define the organisation, its values or product.
The Four Questions to Create a Good Mission Statement
If you want to create a mission statement to inspire your employees and support your business strategy, you need to answer four specific questions. These are:
What do we do? – Explain exactly what you produce / deliver.
How do we do it? – Your unique approach for delivering on your promises.
Who do we do it for? – Define your target audience clearly.
What value are we bringing? – Tell audiences what value you can add to their life.
Once you have answered these four questions you can begin to construct your mission statement. While you may have answered the four questions above in great detail; limit your mission statement so it is clear, memorable and concise. If it exceeds one sentence it is too long.
Don’t settle with your first version. Test your mission statement on your employees and customers and see what they think. When they read it, can they identify the answers to the four questions above? If not, try crafting another version.
Your business’ mission statement is a roadmap for your employees and management team. It helps them realise your organisations’ strategy for product delivery to a core audience. It can also be a good motivator and prevents resources from being wasted by unaligned teams competing against each other.
Creating a good statement takes time and should be done by answering the four key questions as listed above. Otherwise you run the risk of having a statement that has little value and does not differentiate your brand from competitors.