Guest post by Lexie Lu.
A mission statement tells customers why your business exists and what you care most about. It sets you apart from competitors, ties into your story, and gives purpose to your day-to-day operations.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are approximately 31.7 million small businesses in the United States. While only a few are your competitors, you still have to grab the attention of a limited pool of prospective customers. Conveying your objective as a brand is one way of setting yourself apart.
Here are six key steps you can take to create and utilize your small business’s mission statement.
1. Know Your Target Audience
The advice to “know your audience” applies to many aspects of running a company, but especially to your mission statement. Take the time to look at the data you have on your customers. Survey them, ask them questions, and look at what they complain about (in general, not necessarily in relation to your brand).
The better you know your clients, the more effectively you can create a buyer persona. Once you understand what the people you’d like to reach care about, it’s much easier to write a statement they’ll notice.
Legendary Foods shares their mission right at the top of their landing page. The company includes a tagline reading, “Impossibly delicious foods without the sugar.” The six-word tagline simplifies their mission statement a bit for site visitors but still clarifies what they believe in.
2. Recognize What You Care About
Your mission statement should reflect what you care about as a brand. If you choose a focus simply because you think it will be popular with your customers, you won’t have the passion to drive it forward.
Consider companies such as TOMs or Bombas as a gauge of how much you should care. Both brands have a one-to-one model. If you buy a pair of shoes or socks, another pair gets donated to someone in need.
What the companies do in their spare time, where they give their money, and how they volunteer all point back to the primary mission. There is an underlying passion driving the business model forward.
3. Tie Into Your Story
Since the first family sat around the first campfire and swapped tales, storytelling has driven human relationships. How your company came to be and what you care about makes you who you are. Your unique background ties inextricably into your mission statement. No one else has the exact same tale as you do.
Make sure your background and mission statement don’t contradict one another. If you started your business because you were a single mom and needed a way to make income, your mission might be helping single moms get back on their feet.
Don’t turn your back on who you are because you have some customers who don’t fit the same model. Most people can respect that you have a passion for what you do and why you do it, whether they’ve been in your shoes or not.
Thompson Lift Truck shares their mission statement on their About page, allowing more room to share the story and tie everything together.
Laying out their mission statement in this format enables them to show they’ve remained true to their values since 1968. Their number one goal is to create value for their customers, and they have a “whatever it takes” attitude.
4. Highlight Uniqueness
Develop your unique value proposition (UVP). What sets you apart from your competitors?
Your UVP must be something your customers cares about. But it also needs to be a promise you can deliver on.
For example, if you promise the best customer service, you’ll need to extensively train and empower employees to deliver on the statement; and invest in customer service and engagement tools.
5. Deepen Your Mission
Mission statements may not change from the initial reason you started your business, but they do evolve.
As a business grows and the world changes, consider it an opportunity to add to what you already offer your customers and community. Rather than completely change your objective, strengthen it.
Invisible Children utilizes a blog post to show how their mission statement changed. They started in 2004 with a vision of helping to end Africa’s longest-running conflict and protecting children in the midst of it.
As one conflict resolved, they had to morph. Their mission is still to help the African community and end violence, but they also are trying to help vulnerable communities that have suffered wildlife exploitation.
6. Drive Your Point Home
Your mission statement should drive everything you do as a brand. If you are developing a new product, make sure it aligns with your core values. If you take on a charity, does it make sense for your company?
Your marketing department should keep your mission statement in mind as they craft advertising campaigns. Put it at the core of everything you do.
Edit and Refine
Once you’ve written your mission statement, your work is just beginning. You’ll need to refine it, make it more concise, and develop new ways of presenting the same idea. Pay careful attention to word syntax and change any terms that don’t fully convey your meaning.
Craft a short sentence summing up who you are and why you do what you do. You can always expand on those ideas on an About page or in a blog post.
Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and blogger from Williamsport, PA. Her ideal morning includes some HTML code and a cup of coffee. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.