If you are at all interested in marketing, you may have heard of marketing expert and author of Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller. I was listening to a video Don did recently where he talked about the book, Top 101 Mission Statements from Top Companies. And he said, truthfully, most were pretty awful. Here's why:
First, a perfect illustration proving most mission statements aren't what their owners hope they are:
In consulting with another company’s leaders, he asked the CFO to tell him their mission AND... crickets... despite being a part of creating it, the CFO couldn’t remember it.
A sure sign their “mission” was a failure.
From his analysis of mission statements, Don has provided helpful lessons on creating a BETTER mission and vision for businesses. And I believe WE can use this in our agencies and IMOs to rally our producers, employees and ourselves around a shared WHY.
After reading, you’ll walk away with a plan for creating a mission and vision that can help propel YOUR business to the next level.
As Partners Advantage Chairman, Scott Tietz, says in his new book
“You need to know who you are or who you want to be and believe in it before you can sell others on your goals. I’ve seen so many agencies with no mission statement to share with employees and customers and I feel it’s a huge missed opportunity.”
Why do you need a mission?
The main purpose of a strong mission statement is to build an engaged workforce. Your mission is how you unite your team and inspire them to action. Without a mission statement, they have no direction. They are wandering aimlessly and will likely never get to the end goal you had in mind.
And they likely have no idea WHY you’re even in business. They’re just showing up for the paycheck.
On the other hand, engaged employees are an ASSET to your business — Gallup’s analysis found that engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees do -- across industries, company sizes and nationalities, and in good economic times and bad.
Need more proof?
Gallup also reports that “highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. And … the behaviors of highly engaged business units result in 21% greater profitability.”
So, how can you begin fostering greater employee engagement and attract and retain top talent?
A finely tuned mission statement, to start with.
Mission statement structure:
Part of Donald Miller’s StoryBrand framework is making sure that what you create for your business, whether it’s a website, marketing collateral, or a mission statement, follows the outline of a story. Because that’s how we, as humans, learn and digest information and it’s what inspires us. Our brains are hardwired for stories.
And in most good stories you read, or movies you watch, the character or the group WANTS something.
What is it that YOUR agency wants to achieve?
Besides “success” or “higher profits,” think in terms of the problem you solve or would like to solve. What injustice or weakness have you seen in our industry that you would like to see change in the coming years? Your mission statement will clearly tell people that you support that cause.
People get involved and people get excited when they have a problem they can solve or an injustice they’re trying to set right.
Keep in mind, if your mission statement is unclear or too long, nobody can follow it. It should be something succinct that can be memorized.
Because what you want is for your employees, your producers, whoever… to be able to share your mission statement as well. Good, concise, memorable ideas spread.
Maybe you recognize some of these mission statements:
- A world without Alzheimer’s
- A computer on every desk and in every home
- Bringing the best user experience to its customers through innovate hardware, software, and services
- To spread the power of optimism
- To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
- Spread ideas
What do you want to see in the world or in our industry?
When you think about why you went into business in the first place, what comes to mind?
I’m assuming you had an objective, something you saw lacking in our industry or something you wanted to bring more of to the world.
And maybe… just maybe… you believed you could help bring about that change.
THAT’S the first part to your mission statement.
Now, because this is a business, one that needs to make sales and generate a profit — it can’t just be something YOU want to give the world. In order to make a go of it, your business needs to offer something that other people want too.
That’s an important part of building a business, marketing that business, and creating products and services. Everything hinges on having something your target market wants.
Otherwise, it’s not going to work.
AND it can’t be five different things. Focus on ONE main objective.
The second component to the mission statement, as Don points out, is knowing what’s at stake. If there’s no consequence or downside to NOT achieving your mission… there’s no motivation there. Not for you, not for your clients, not for your producers or employees.
Everyone needs to know what we stand to lose if we don’t accomplish the goal.
That’s what makes a good story. Most people are not going to watch a movie or read or book or listen to someone talk, if there’s no “villain” you’re trying to defeat. That’s what makes it all worthwhile!
So, ask yourself: What’s going to happen if your agency or IMO doesn’t achieve what it set out to?
Who will help you achieve your mission?
This may be something you hadn’t thought about. I know I hadn’t before I listened to this video from Don’s Business Made Simple email series.
I don’t know how many companies actually consider WHO they need to hire or partner beyond just looking at hard skills. They create their core values and post those on the wall and call it a day. Never making the connection between company values and the people being hired.
Within our agencies and IMOs we need to think about what type of person we need to hire to help carry out our mission.
Which characteristics do they need to have?
Are they smart?
Are they innovative?
Are they self-motivated?
Each business must define that for themselves. Once you’ve got the right people in place, it can be much simpler to cultivate employee engagement.
Next, identify the actions that need to happen every day for you to achieve your big vision.
How to share your mission and vision
This story you’re creating of what you’re doing, why and who you need to help make it happen (mission statement/vision) — is a story you tell internally. A problem that many of us struggle with, is remembering to put the focus on our clients, rather than ourselves.
One of the major points in Building a StoryBrand is to make yourself the Guide and your client the Hero. So, if you’re always telling your story out in the world about how great you are, YOU become the Hero.
But people identify with your story MORE, when they’re the Hero. They don’t want to compete with you for that status.
That means that your story or your mission statement and vision get told to the people inside the business (or when you’re recruiting or giving a rousing keynote speech).
Tell it to the people you want to be inspired to do their jobs, inspired to hit new goals, inspired to live out your vision.
Your rallying cry
Create a mission statement for your company that will motivate people to join you. Have them unite around a common goal — one they can remember and share.
And hire, partner, and do business with the people who hold the beliefs and exhibit the characteristics that you value.
THAT is how you write a mission statement that can make your agency profitable in the long-term.
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