How to craft a killer mission statement

by Ray Larson
  |  December 10, 2014  |  
December 10, 2014

by Ray Larson
Paul and I have podcasting and blogging the past few weeks about the importance of metrics and purpose in crafting winning internet marketing campaigns. An integral part of our philosophy is understanding who you are as a business. Communicating this to both your target audience and search engines is key to winning. Your firm’s mission statement drives this communication. The ability to craft a killer mission statement, one which puts your competitor’s to shame, sets your brand on the path to success.

At Vende Digital we are in the enviable position of being able to vet prospects just as much as they vet us. We are a “boutique” internet marketing firm and plan to stay that way. We want to insure right fit before we take on any new client. Right fit for us is a firm with senior leadership that understands the importance of digital marketing. As part of this right fit process we closely examine a prospect’s mission statement.

Why is this so important to us? Two reasons.

First a well-crafted mission statement indicates whether or not a firm “gets it.” The success of the internet marketing strategies we carefully craft hinge upon an unequivocal understanding of who they are, what they do, and why anyone (their target audience) should care.

Mission statements are more important than ever in a world of easily attainable information. Whether you realize it or not, the products and services you provide are on an increasing faster pace to commoditization. To survive your firm must not only stand for something different, it must possess the marketing competence to communicate this difference as well.

Second, in an increasingly semantic search environment, search engines connect the dots between what your customer wants and which companies own the product or service that fulfill that want.

A well-crafted mission statement creates a strong brand identity. This succinct manifesto declares to the world what makes your brand different and what makes it relevant in a world of increasing sameness.

A sea of sameness

As a principal at Vende Digital and a digital strategist as my core skill, the first thing I look for in a prospect’s website is their mission statement. Much of what I read is mind-numbing sameness. Too many words (300-500 words is way too much), and too many statements that read as if they were lifted verbatim from a 1980’s era marketing textbook:

“…the lowest prices.” Really? That’s an unsustainable business practice.

“…best customer service…” Prove it. Better than EVERYONE ELSE?

“…fastest shipping…” Faster than whom? Amazon? Sorry, you’re wrong.

“…a company that cares about you…” And your competitors don’t?

Your customers can figure out the quality of your products and services faster than ever. In a market awash in sameness how do you stand out? Your mission statement helps prospects discern what makes your offerings different and better.

A killer mission statement is your company’s raison d’etre. It’s concise, succinct and explains to the world in 3-4 sentences what makes your offering unique. It’s known and internalized by every team member. Weave your mission statement through every piece of brand and marketing collateral.

 Here’s a killer mission statement

 A killer mission statement answers 3 questions:

  1. Who we are.
  2. What we do.
  3. Why should anyone care.

The first two are easy to answer. The last question requires lots of heavy lifting. The third articulates your firm’s unique selling proposition (USP). This statement emphatically declares to the world what makes you different.

Take a look at this well crafted mission statement for a luxury vacation villa in the Caribbean. Sunset Watch Villa competes with over 300 other rental properties on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands for a limited pool of experiential travelers.

 “We are Sunset Watch Villa, a beachfront, three bedroom, vacation rental villa located on secluded Nail Bay Beach on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. We offer a luxurious Caribbean sanctuary far removed from your daily grind. Come and reconnect with your family, spouse, partner yourself, and nature in an idyllic island paradise. Create memories here.”

 Notice the answers to the three questions:

  •  Who we are: “We are Sunset Watch Villa, a beachfront, three bedroom, vacation rental villa located …”

    “Create memories here.”

  •  What we do: “We offer a luxurious Caribbean sanctuary….”
  •  Why does it matter: “Reconnect with your family, spouse, partner…
  •  And the USP: “Create memories here.”

Reading this make me want to jump on the next plane to the British Virgin Islands! Not only does this mission statement skillfully address the three fundamental questions, it also answers an existential one as well: why they are in business.

Follow this logic. Sunset Watch might be an affordable beachfront luxury villa (tagline prior to creating a mission statement), but the villa is actually the vehicle by which guests create memories that last a lifetime. This simple statement, “create memories here” guides not only the marketing decisions but for the villa management itself. All expenditures and activities are devoted to facilitating and enhancing guest memories.. Their website blog is designed as a huge “FAQ” with posts designed to answer questions, allay fears, and make the arduous travel planning simple.

Crafting your killer mission statement

So how do you create your firm’s killer mission statement?

Answering the “who you are” and what do you do” questions are easy. Here’s three questions to guide you as you answer the third question, “why should anyone care.”

  1.  What are the opportunities that exist to address? Think back to when you created your business. What was the market opportunity you first served and filled? Does it still exist? What’s changed? Compare your current offering to that of your competitors: how do they address the needs of your mutual clients? How can you do it better.
  2.  What are you doing now to address those needs? What exactly do we provide for our clients? How has this changed over time? What is uniquely inherent in the proposition you offer your clients? Why did they choose us?
  3.  What are the principles that guide our work? This question helps shape the context of how you address the first two. The need your firm addresses must fall within your company’s moral parameters.

What does your firm’s mission statement say about your company? Does it address the three basic questions? Does it communicate the company’s USP?

Take a fresh look at your firm’s mission statement with these ideas in mind. Re-craft yours so it “kills.”

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