Our client needed to sell their book.
Like someone with a dull knife cutting furiously – they didn’t care who they sold to; they didn’t care why their customers purchased from them, and they hadn’t (as you can imagine) sold many units. Why? Because they didn’t know their why.
They didn’t have statements outlining their mission, vision, or values. So they gave Prodigy & Co. a call.
During our brainstorming session, we identified the reason why the product was created. This helped us identify the product’s ideal client which then helped us write a mission and vision statement that spoke directly to that audience.
After all, you created a small business with the intention of providing an important product/service, or you created a nonprofit to remedy a specific problem – either way, your organization is fulfilling a person’s need. When articulating what you do, it’s important to think deeper than the wham, bam, thank you ma’am of a single transaction. You had an emotional motive to implement this idea. So tell us why.
Why are you so adamant about the idea that bubbles up from the pit of your stomach? Why are you staying up all night? Why are your feet hitting the pavement early in the morning? Crafting a unique vision and mission will help you share that feeling you have.
Your Mission Statement
An effective mission statement is a clear, concise declaration about your strategy that helps your audience understand three things:
- Your purpose for existing
- The product or service you provide
- The value you provide to them specifically
Whether you are providing job training to underserved youth, teaching kids to be introspective through poetry, expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables through gardens, or spurring the local economy through the sale of plus-sized wedding dresses for brides, your mission statement will provide you, your employees, and your customers with a framework and purpose.
When developing your mission, here are four key questions to ask your team:
- What do we do?
- How do we do it?
- For whom do we do it?
- What value do we offer?
By aligning your brand’s mission to your audience’s personal missions, you can skate past their rational brain and speak to their emotional mind. This helps you stop selling and start conversating.
Your Vision Statement
If a mission statement is the framework, the vision statement is the blueprint.
An effective vision statement stays at 30,000 feet – it doesn’t get into the weeds. The vision statement provides guidance and inspiration for your organization. It is forward thinking – focusing on what will be achieved in 5, 10, 20 years. It is your “north star,” so to speak.
For example, Microsoft’s vision does not include the word ‘computer;’ it is to “empower people through great software anytime, anyplace, and on any device.” Avon’s vision statement doesn’t even use the word ‘makeup;’ it is “to be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service, and self-fulfillment needs of women globally.” Facebook claims they were not originally created to be a company, “We were built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.” (Mark Zuckerberg)
When developing your vision, here are four key questions to ask your team:
- What is your mental picture for the future? (Today, 5, 10, 20 years from now?)
- How will you provide inspiration and guidance to your audience/customers?
- How will your employees/volunteers/board members contribute to the organization?
- Regarding the impact you are making in the world: What’s new? What’s next? What’s better? How are you maximizing your work and reach?
As counterintuitive as it might seem, the best way to lead your team into the future is to deeply connect with them in the present. The only visions that take hold are shared visions—and you will create them only when you listen very, very closely to others, appreciate their hopes, and attend to their needs.
The price of your mission and vision
You can use a garden to teach job skills.
You can use a garden to teach STEM education.
Or you use a garden to teach healthy eating and provide fresh fruits and vegetables.
Each organizational structure uses a garden to create impact. But if you aren’t clear about why you’re using a garden to create impact, you’re losing the opportunity to connect to the funder or investor who already supports STEM programming or is passionate about food scarcity in the inner city. A “garden” might not interest them, but providing job skills might light them up.
Being crystal clear about your mission and vision helps you determine your place among the landscape of other organizations in your area who, from the outside, might appear to be very similar.
Your time and resources are finite; using them effectively is key. In addition to attracting your ideal buyer or supporter, having a clearly defined mission and vision statement help your organization say no.
Here’s an example.
In what seemed like a great opportunity, an organization we work with was recently asked to speak at the UN Conference in New York City. The organization’s leader was excited about possibly expanding her database and network with potential funders. However, upon further investigation, it became clear that the organization (which operates solely in Oklahoma) had no business trying to expand to a market where they had no voice and provided no impact. The organization should have said No.
Instead, this leader spent months planning, fundraising, and marketing the event. Eventually, the organization decided it was not a good investment and had to return all the funds that were raised. Aligning opportunities side-by-side with your mission and vision will save you the embarrassment of mismanaging your time, money, energy, and reputation.
Standing out is outstanding
If you haven’t specifically and formally written a mission and vision statement for your organization, we invite you to do so today. Download our free guide on writing your mission and vision statement. It includes some of our favorite examples so you can shop the language of the pros, questions that help you dig deep into your why, and easy-to-follow writing prompts.
You can also always give us a call or slip us a message. We would love to sit down with your team, sip some tea, and help you identify, organize, and emphasize your unique value and vision. After all, Zig Ziglar reminds us that “outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”