Your mission statement is one of the most important tools to help your team, investors, stakeholders, and customers know who you are and what you’re all about. This one statement serves as an essential way to ensure the customer remains front and center.
Your company may prefer a vision statement, which differs mostly in chronology. Your mission is to reach your vision, while your vision is a result of that mission. Either way, these statements are all about making a positive impact for the customer.
Too often, though, companies put the focus on themselves. That’s understandable.
But how does that make your customers feel?
If you haven’t thought about your customer while writing your mission statement, then you are likely headed in the wrong direction. In my experience, this is the missing ingredient that makes so many company mission statements feel like meaningless marketing speak. But it can be so much more than that.
And it’s your first step to writing a kick-ass roadmap and, ultimately, to Product Culture (don’t worry…I’ll define both of these below).
Well, let’s first back up and discuss why getting your company mission statement right is paramount.
Why Should You Spend Time Developing a Customer-Driven Mission Statement for Your Company?
As you likely know, a mission statement explains the reason for your company’s existence in the first place. It covers not only what your business does, but why your business does it, clearly illustrating what the company’s ongoing purpose is. For a mission statement to make an impact on your customers, it has to resonate with them. Your aim should be to make it so relatable to your customers that they nod their heads in agreement while reading it.
A mission statement needs to be a single sentence.
And that single sentence explains how the company serves everyone from customers to employees to owners to the community at large (maybe even the world).
With everyone on the same page, we can point our energies in the same direction. That concentration of focused energy prevents some of the issues companies face, such as time and effort wasted in the wrong areas or a muddy message that confuses the team about priorities.
It also reassures customers that your company or product is the right one for them.
What Is the Best Approach for Writing a Customer-Driven Company Mission Statement?
To begin, let’s get into the right mindset.
When we’re creating a mission statement, we want to ensure our focus is on the customer. This automatically prioritizes customer success over company success.
Wait, is this some kind of trick? If we just focus on making the customer happy, how do we stay in business? The trick is that making customers successful (in a sustainable way) is how we make our business successful.
And this is the first pillar to achieving Product Culture in your company.
So what is Product Culture?
Product Culture is scalably developing and delivering products of value to customers.
It’s really that simple. When you keep the customer front-of-mind, you’re not just creating an awesome product, rather you are developing a product that will make your customer awesome by achieving their own success.
And when you help others be successful, they’ll be coming back for more.
Successful product-led companies follow these 4 principles. They:
- Focus on making customers awesome
- Share a compelling vision of the future
- Empower teams to pursue that vision
- Leverage enablers of scale
Ok, how is this helpful to writing a mission statement?
Well, if you keep these Product Culture values in mind you can define the following qualities of your company with a focus on your customers.
Use this outline to flesh out the following three elements of your company’s mission, collectively known as a value proposition: customer, benefit, and differentiator:
We help [type of customer] [achieve a benefit] by [what we do best].
Consider the emotional impact of putting your customer first in your mission statement.
We create simple financial planning tools.
We empower women entrepreneurs to achieve financial independence by delivering CFO-level insights at bookkeeper cost.
While the intent behind the first statement may be sound, the second statement:
- Specifies the target customer as “women entrepreneurs”.
- Clearly states the offered benefit of achieving “financial independence”, which is inspiring!
- Describes just enough about their unique approach (“CFO-level insights at bookkeeper cost”) to be intriguing rather than getting bogged down in technical details.
When you create the habit of always putting the customer and their benefit first, you’ll be one step closer to achieving Product Culture.
When Should You Write Your Company Mission Statement?
No, seriously. This is an absolutely critical piece of your business puzzle. Your mission statement informs employees, stakeholders, investors, customers (everyone!) who you are and why you do what you do.
It gives employees and managers a clear destination for your roadmap. It also gives them something to strive toward. It’s a quality control, in a way, that ensures everyone works toward the same thing.
Imagine working on a project for six months only to realize you have to scrap it because it isn’t relevant to the mission and goals of your company…
No one appreciates wasted time and effort.
A mission statement helps with:
- Building your product roadmap
- Prioritizing work ahead of time and when new things arise
- Mediating internal disagreements and those among stakeholders
- Ensuring everyone’s on the same page, working toward the same goal
- Creating a company identity
Imagine a sales pitch that sounds something like, “Our software is really advanced. We’ve spent a lot of time developing and improving the features based on what we think customers need.”
How does that make you feel about the product in relation to your own business?
Compare that to: “We free up your CX team to focus on improving the customer experience by automating the sales and nurture processes that take all of their time.”
Now you can imagine the product working for you, helping you achieve success.
Who’s Involved in Creating Your Company Mission Statement?
It may sound a bit odd, but your customers should play a significant part in writing your company mission statement.
The process begins with listening and learning from your customers and prospective customers. What’s unique about their lives, their jobs, their families? Learn about who they are. Then find out what success looks like to them. With that in mind, ask what’s holding them back from this success. What challenges or problems do they face? If you discover their problems and make it, well, your mission to solve them, you’ll be headed in the right direction.
Of course, the founder, CEO, development team, and any other stakeholders will be vital contributors when workshopping, crafting, and building your company mission statement.
But I would argue that the customer’s perspective is more imperative than any other input.
In getting to know your customers, you will discover what your customers truly value and, from there, how your product might resonate with them.
If you want to make sure your company mission statement is customer-driven. Listen to the customer.
What to Avoid in Your Company’s Mission Statement
Don’t use clichés, jargon, or words that seem cool and catchy but are so general that any company could claim them.
Essentially: don’t use gimmicky, sales-y words. Let your marketing and sales teams handle customer acquisition.
Avoid words that can be taken ambiguously like “powerful” (Does that mean strong? Domineering? Corrupt?), or “#1” (#1 by whose standards?), or “100% guaranteed” (everyone makes mistakes now and then. You don’t want to break your promises).
Here’s an example of what to avoid:
LMNOTech will create the most popular mobile application that will take all cellular-device users by storm.
The phrase “most popular” is not only vague but gives consumers insight into this company’s true reason for being – their growth over your success.
Second, “all cellular-device users” is literally addressing almost every human over the age of 12 in the world.
Lastly, “take by storm” may be a memorable line, but how will the product team measure if they have, in fact, “taken the world by storm”? (Also, do you as a customer really want to be taken by storm?)
Instead, try this modified mission statement:
LMNOTech enhances busy executives’ productivity on the go by making app switching effortless.
This keeps the focus on the customer who will benefit most. It no longer tries to explicitly shoehorn in every single person on the planet as a customer and removes any intangible boasts about the company over the customer.
Examples of Product-Centric, Customer-Driven Company Mission Statements
To get a better idea of what quality, customer-focused mission statements look like from product-centric companies, take a look at these gems:
“Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything.”
This evokes the feeling that anything is possible for the customer, ensuring the customer knows their satisfaction is first and foremost to the company.
“Create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
This mission statement packs a punch in very few words. The focus is on making the benefits of travel more accessible for users, not about their business.
Do you see a trend? The focus is on what the customer can accomplish with the help of the product.
That’s the goal.
Jason Fried, the co-founder of Basecamp, may have said it best:
Now’s the time to ensure that your company’s mission statement – whether revised or brand new – puts your customer’s success above all else. This Product Culture foundation will help you to prioritize your initiatives better, tell a stronger story with your roadmap, and win over stakeholders – all because you’ve gone through this exercise.
Send us your mission statement. Our Product Culture team would love to see what you’re building for your customers and your company. If you need further support or struggle to craft a compelling mission statement, check out how Product Culture can help you pave the way to your product vision.