Say "mission statement" and most people think of a social mission company. But business mission statements have been around forever and, when crafted carefully, can be a powerful sales tool for nonsocial businesses, as Tina Aldatz and Margarita Floris, co-founders of Savvy Travelers, recently found out.

Their company, based in Laguna Hills, California, makes packaged wipes for things like face washing, removing nail polish, and applying deodorant. They'd gotten into Nordstrom, but sales were lagging. In September, Aldatz and Floris decided to sharpen the company's focus. They wrote a mission statement that begins, "Our mission is to make travel and on-the-go beauty easy and accessible for women."

Guided by these words, Savvy Travelers eliminated packaging designed to appeal to men. The wipes are now carried by 200 retailers, up from five before the statement was adopted. The focus launched "a massive upswing in sales," Aldatz says. "We've had to bring in extra people to pack all the orders." Done right, a mission statement can help you and your team get motivated, stay focused, and increase revenue.

Make it personal

At New York Computer Help, the mission statement is "Treat every customer like your own mother." It creates an emotional connection among the company's staff that reminds them to deal compassionately with the original target market, non-tech-adroit seniors, says founder Joe Silverman.

Great word of mouth from this demographic and a stream of customer referrals followed. One customer wrote a glowing Yelp review after over­hearing employees patiently retrieve a Yahoo password--yet again--for someone with Alzheimer's. Though Silverman didn't track which customers came in because of that review, "it definitely didn't hurt," he says. The company now services all homes and offices.

Stick to it, even when it's hard

In mid-2014, to boost sales, executives at online job board College Recruiter wrote its first mission statement: "College Recruiter believes that every student and recent grad deserves a great career. We believe in creating a great candidate and recruiter experience." To fulfill the mission, the company stopped taking ads from ski resorts and other noncareer customers--even though these clients represented 25 percent of its revenue.

"When we really realized what business we were in, we were left with two choices: Either ignore the mission statement and keep doing what we were doing, or else abide by it," says founder Steven Rothberg. "It was uncomfortable but not a difficult decision." Fortunately, sales consistent with its new mission have more than compensated for the loss, and revenue is up 50 percent.

Use it to defuse objections

Karen Curtiss founded PartnerHealth after her father died from hospital-acquired infections. Her company provides checklists and education for patients, families, and providers to help prevent these conditions.

But hospitals can be resistant to dis­cussing the issue. So Curtiss lets her mission statement speak for her. It begins: "Patients, their families, and all care providers will be 'on the same page' for patient safety with our Safe & Sound checklists and tools."

She's used the statement to explain that her company wants to collaborate, not accuse. It's helped the company get its training materials into more than 50 hospitals across seven states and to thousands of health care providers.

'Our Social Mission Is Why I'm in Business'
FROM THE APRIL 2017 ISSUE OF INC. MAGAZINE
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