Yes, you really do need a mission statement. Glad we got that out of the way.
When I first started conducting target market assessments, I found that it was much easier to hone in on what made a company a good prospect for my client and even more importantly what gave my client a competitive advantage for prospective customers if they had a good mission statement.
For example, say you are a retail electricity provider with no mission statement. How do you know whether to improve your processes to better suit households or small businesses? Are your customers more likely to require cheap power or reliable power? Now you may say most need both, but that is not necessarily true. If my power goes out for a few minutes in the middle of the day, its no big deal. But what if the power goes out in an emergency room or a continuous process manufacturing facility?
You don’t necessarily have to nail down your target market in a mission statement, but you do have to know what you do best – how you differentiate yourself. For example: if you are going after lower income households or small businesses, then being the “low cost provider that makes service available to those who could not otherwise afford it” may be part of your mission. If your target is high end businesses, hospitals, and nursing homes then your mission may encompass being “the consistent and reliable source.”
Writing missions statements is not always easy, but as previously discussed it is necessary for a variety of reasons including understanding who your best potential client is. That is why I start every Clone Your Favorite™ Client Assessment with a review of my client’s mission, vision, core values and goals. And writing a mission statement doesn’t have to be mission impossible either. There are some great resources for helping write missions statements online (check out How to Write Your Mission Statement on entrepreneur.com). I usually recommend that my clients conduct a brainstorming session with their management team to at least hammer out the basics and then let their marketing firm turn their ideas into a statement that will speak to their stakeholders. I’d love to hear about your mission statement creation war stories in the comments and in the mean time, happy hunting!