Do you need/have a company mission statement?
Staying with the idea of K.I.S.S does your company have a mission statement and is it even necessary? This is another area in which business runs the risk of over complicating matters. Some companies can spend hours, days, weeks agonising over their company mission statement and the end result is one of those 300 word compromises that tries to be all things to all people. In other words– is your company mission statement a camel?
“A camel is a horse designed by a committee”
This is an expression critical of committees—or by analogy, group decision-making—by emphasizing the ineffectiveness of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project. In this figure of speech, the distinguishing features of a camel, such as its humps and poor temperament, are taken to be the deformities that resulted from its poor design. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_camel_is_a_horse_designed_by_a_committee
Some of the most successful companies in the world have the simplest of mission statements – I rather like the one from Starbucks
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
What is the purpose of company mission statements?
The idea behind company mission statements is that they clearly tell potential customers what the company believes in and is trying to deliver. Sometimes they are called vision statements, which is a bit lofty and “woo woo” for some people. They can be very important when your company brand is a bit generic or maybe just a collection of letters that don’t say what you do…XYZ Holdings Ltd…hmmm, what exactly do you hold? Some companies add a tagline to their brand name to explain their business and then expand in their mission statement.
The trouble with company mission statements is that frankly they are often boring, long winded and even confusing. If their purpose is to engage customers they often fail. The marketing mantra of “Know, Like and Trust” is a good rule for the creation of company mission statements. Customers tend to buy for a number of reasons; price; availability; innovation; desperate need and personal desire. However, when they are weighing up choices they will usually pick simple over complicated and recommendations over unknown.
A company mission statement needs to appeal and ignite passion in a potential customer and that is not achieved by long, wordy, complex sentences!
A few simple rules for your company mission statement
- Keep it to a maximum of three sentences- less is more.
- Don’t use long industry jargon words – that just confuses the customer.
- Focus on benefits not features – what do customers get from you?
- Ask existing customers what they think you do- that may surprise you
- What is your company passionate about? No passion, no engagement
- Ask your employees to contribute but be ruthless about cutting down their responses if you want to include them
- Support your company mission statement page with customer testimonials
OR – don’t bother!
Be very sure of the reasons you are creating a company mission or vision statement. Ask yourself the following questions
- Does the mission statement add value for customers?
- Is it better suited to employees to help them work together and doesn’t need publishing except internally?
- Is it still relevant? Company objectives and products/services change- so your mission statement may also need to change
How to create a company mission statement that engages potential customers
Following the rules above you may find yourself at a loss as to how to express your company mission. You have a number of objectives for your business but they evolve and change every year so you need to drill down to the WHY you are in business.
Companies are born out of either passion or need. Bill Gates has always been a man with a mission. Interestingly Microsoft have gone through a number of mission statements
“Put a computer on every desk and in every home”
…was the original – not tricky to understand at all.
In 2013 this then became
“to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.”
The 2015 version is much more succinct
To “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
Note the use of adjectives and power words – nothing soft or fluffy here. Think back to why you started your company, think about what your customer’s greatest need is- then write your company mission statement to match those two passionate aspects. Keep it simple, keep it direct and keep it real.