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Online Business Blog

News and information about online business, marketing and sales. Published by Chuck Vosburgh at Pro Techniques.

Mission statements are bad even if they are true.

Chuck Vosburgh - Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There, I said it. They're bad because they are b.s. They're bad because the people who come in contact with your customers most likely have never read it, and if they have, they view it as b.s. too. They're bad because they've been so badly abused, no one cares.

I searched "mission statement" on Google and here's the first one that came up. I removed the company name and industry, but it could have come from any business:
We are people who make it our business to be like a good neighbor; who built a premier company by selling and keeping promises through our marketing partnership; who bring diverse talents and experiences to our work of serving the xxxxxx customer.
Our success is built on a foundation of shared values -- quality service and relationships, mutual trust, integrity and financial strength.
Our vision for the future is to be the customer's first and best choice in the products and services we provide. We will continue to be the leader in the xxxxxxx industry and we will become a leader in the xxxxxxxx arena. Our customers' needs will determine our path. Our values will guide us.
Do you actually believe any of this? How many hours of meetings do you think were spent on this? Was it worth the effort?I have sat in dozens of marketing meetings where a decision maker will say something like "Let's tell them..." as if telling "them" is good enough. What about being? BE something good, don't just say it.

Here's my advice:

Don't waste your time on mission statements. Spend your time deciding what your business will be. Then use that as the measuring stick for everything you do. For example, the company who's statement is above wants to be a good neighbor. The measure is simple, does this make us a better neighbor or not? Terms like best and leader are too subjective to be used as a measure and keeping promises is a prerequisite to being a good neighbor. To be fair, the company is one I have some experience with and they do a good job of being consistent with their mission statement. They do indeed try to be a good neighbor. Which proves my point, no one will believe statement anyway. It's conditioning.There are those who talk and those who do. Which one do you want to be?
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