Monday, April 23, 2012

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: What does YOUR business do?

I recently saw a post on the Facebook group for garden centers asking, "How do I write a mission statement?" WOW! This is a tough question and a hard task.

It seems like a simple questions. What does my business do? This is the stuff of which mission statements are made. So why is this simple question so insurmountable? Why do so many people get tongue tied when asked this question?

I think because we aren't really clear on what it is supposed to say. We get it confused with our vision - which is what we want our business "to be". We get hung up on using just the right words or words that are way too fancy. And we think it is supposed to sound like something someone who has an MBA has written.

So just how do you get this illusive mission statement written?

First of all, you will – and should - struggle with this. Getting your mission statement right is important and that doesn’t happen overnight. While you are in the struggle, make a “mission statement” folder and write down your thoughts, examples of other mission statements you like and other resource materials to help you "think." Just Google “mission statement” and you will get lots of ideas.

And involve your staff. Ask them what they think your business does. What it does better than anyone else? What it does differently that makes it stand out and differentiates it from the competition?

But don't struggle to find the proper words. Just jot down a few ideas and put it in the file.

Put this list in (order of) priority. Then cross off those ideas that don't seem important. Then rewrite the list.

Remember, all mission statements include:

• What you do. The type of business you are in.
• The needs your company fills.
• Clients you serve now or want to serve.
• How you serve these clients?

You want your statement to be broad, not specific, and positive and forceful. It should be free of jargon. Everyone must be able to understand it, especially your customers. And, most importantly, it is easy for you and your staff to live with. That's a pretty big billing.

Our mission at Garden Media Group used to be some marketing gobbly goop like "we help mid-sized companies achieve their goals through focused, responsible public relations evaluations and efforts" that, when I "recited" it to people, I could just see the shades of their eyes close. They didn't get it.

Now we say, "Garden Media Group helps make lawn and garden companies popular with their customers through focused public relations and social media efforts." People get it immediately. Everyone understands popular.

It is clean, easily understood and general. It's positive and forceful, and not at all vague.

Here are a few other examples of some lawn and garden companies:

America Beauties mission is to bring life to the garden and protect the balance of nature by offering great performing native plants that attract wildlife and solve a variety of gardening challenges.

Bloomstatics! Plants mission is to help gardeners be successful by offering both new and redeeming under-utilized plants and shrubs that provide fantastic color, are easy to grow and low maintenance.

BrazelBerries wants to bring beauty, purpose and joy to the berry lifestyle by offering superior ornamental berry shrubs perfect for the landscape, simple to grow and bursting with great tasting berries.

Now, in my opinion, you should try to make this as personal as possible, because it is YOUR statement of business. So it better be YOUR mission statement in 30 words or less. Then get it down to seven clear words.

Just for fun, very quickly, write down what it is you do. Now turn that paper over and write three or four sentences that explain the purpose of your business. Now narrow this down to 25 words.

Pause.

Look away.

Read your sentence aloud. You didn't do it! Okay. Start again from the very beginning in 30 words or less.

You need to know what you do - or no one else will either.

Suzi
Garden Media Group

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