The much-maligned company mission statement can be a powerful and lasting sales tool. Here's how to start.
Ask why, not what
Before you pen a mission statement, consider why your company exists, not just what it does. One company's execs told Brad Federman, COO of consulting firm F&H Solutions Group, "We make electrical parts. It isn't sexy." But its components are in the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. That led to a new perspective and a clear mission: "We help build and sustain American icons through quality American manufacturing."
Keep it short
Three sentences are about the most you should ever have," says Federman. "If there are a lot of paragraphs, people won't remember them. One of the best was Pepsi's one-time mission statement 'Beat Coke.' People would come to work thinking, 'How do I beat Coke today?' "
If you can't do it right, don't do it
"If a consultant or marketing firm wrote it for you with nice, flowery language, it's meaningless," Federman says. A bad mission statement can hurt you, he adds. "If it says one thing and people see the company doing something different, it creates doubt in employees' and customers' minds. You're better off without one."