As a entrepreneur, I’m always looking for ways to articulate the mission of my business to people. There are a ton of articles about how to write a good mission statement, ranging from useful (see “Answer 4 Questions to Get a Great Mission Statement” in Forbes) to completely worthless (too many to mention).
Unfortunately, most business schools and advice columns neglect to mention the most important part of mission statements: storytelling.
To help you write a mission statement that articulates the value of your company while inspiring people to get involved, here are “3 Storytelling Tips for Great Mission Statements.” You mission will never be the same.
1. Open With Your Value Proposition. Mission statements are the beginning of a company story, so it’s important to open with a strong hook. The first, and perhaps most important, part of a mission statement is the value proposition. In the simplest terms, a value proposition is the answer to the question: What’s in it for your customers? The trick here is to focus on what the organization does and the results these actions, not the features of the product or service. In story terms, this is the theme, or big idea, behind a company’s narrative. The theme should consolidate the emotions the customers will feel (i.e. comfort or relaxation) and experiences the customers will have (i.e. cost or time savings) with the company into a single sentence or phrase. This process can take time, but one tip is to eliminate comparative statements such as better, more, cleaner, faster, etc. For example, instead of saying: “Our company makes it easier to connect people with their families,” it’s “Our company brings families together.”
2. Build Interest With A Problem. Like all good stories, mission statements should address the problem the organization is trying to solve. Instead of telling your potential customers “why” they should buy a product or service, show them how the existing market is ignoring an opportunity or failing to serve a particular population. Once you’ve identified how the company is going to do this, spell it out for your audience. In the example above, if the value proposition is “Our company brings families together,” the follow up sentence should demonstrate how this is done (i.e. “We simplify user interface, improve communication speed and lower the cost of transmission.”). Be specific!
3. Articulate a Vision. The final step in writing a great mission statement is to offer a solution to the problem you’ve set up. The solution should address how the values of the organization specifically inform your answer to the problem, and how your product or service is an extension of those values. The way to do this is with a short description of the products or services followed by a quick restatement of the value proposition. Once you’ve done this, articulate what will be possible for customers and the general public because of the product. Remember: you’re selling an experience, not just a product.
Your mission just got a little less impossible.