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Defining the Business Mission

Defining the Business Mission

A mission statement provides a fundamental building block for the marketing plan, strategy, and communication to consumers.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Recognize the relevance of a mission statement when creating a marketing plan

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • The strategies a business will use over a given time period to price, promote, produce, and distribute goods and/or services is called a marketing plan.
  • A strong marketing strategy communicates the vision and mission in a way that differentiates from the competition to achieve a core competency reflective of internal strengths.
  • As a result, a strong mission statement is a key ingredient to a strong marketing strategy. A mission statement acts as a guiding principle as to what the organization does, how it does it, and (most importantly) why.
  • While mission statements are useful in providing direction and structure, they can often be unrealistic and idealistic.
  • Marketing teams should use iterative testing to see how relevant and accurate a given mission is compared to the market needs.

Key Terms

  • mission statement: A declaration of the overall goal or purpose of an organization.

Marketing Plans

A marketing plan describes the broad strategies a business will use over a given time period to price, promote, produce, and distribute goods and/or services. This marketing plan is a key strategic document that must line up cleanly with the other guiding principles of the organization. This includes the vision, mission, competitive environment, core competency, internal culture, and core consumer groups ( target markets ).

A strong marketing plan incorporates each of these key ingredients, creating a strategy that communicates the vision and mission in a way that differentiates from the competition to achieve a core competency reflective of internal strengths. This output should provide unique value that fills key needs for the target market.

The Mission Statement

Among these many inputs is the mission statement. A mission statement is defined as a guiding principle for the organization that describes why the company exists, how it hopes to achieve its objectives, and what those objectives are. Ideally, these three questions should be answered simultaneously in a few key sentences. It should be a statement that the whole organization can agree with, while also supporting a feasible and profitable mechanism of production.

Advantages

A mission provides a few clear advantages, which explains why they are so common across larger commercial companies. A mission statement provides direction and clear purpose, which can be displayed both internally and externally to create alignment. By displaying publicly what the organization wants to accomplish, the company has a unique opportunity to manage expectations for potential employees and consumers.

Disadvantages

On the other end of the spectrum, a clear mission statement can have some drawbacks as well. Most importantly among them is a sense of unrealistic expectation. Whenever a mission is stated on paper clearly and cleanly, there is always the risk that the description of a mission is more powerful than a realistic execution of that mission. For example, a non-profit organization may state that its mission is to provide clean water. In pursuing this goal, the organization may be successful in many ways.

However, there will always be more work to do, more places where water is needed, more pollution, and more obstacles. As the mission of the organization grapples with reality, it often begins to look idealistic or unrealistic. In these situations employees can become demotivated.

Mission and Marketing

While a full assessment of mission statements is unnecessary for this context, what’s important to keep in mind here is that a mission should guide the organization towards realistic and meaningful objectives. Communicating these objectives externally to the broader market is a central goal for the marketing team, and a significant portion of the marketing strategy.

When creating a marketing plan, the first two questions that need to be asked is what the organization is trying to accomplish and why consumers will care. A strong mission should bridge these two considerations perfectly, identifying and communicating to everyone (internal and external) why the organization does what it does. Once this is understood, a marketing plan should iterate on and refine the communication of this concept.

While it is true that the mission statement will play a big role in the initial marketing plan, it’s also worth noting that this is a two way street. Marketers will take the mission statement out into the public, communicating it in various ways to identify exactly what consumers might want and who they describe what they want. This should be an iterative feedback loop, where marketing is promoting a product or service, assessing success, discussing the goods with customers, and providing feedback to other teams. If marketing notices a mismatch between the mission and the consumers, the mission should be adapted accordingly. After all, organizations are justified by being relevant to those who consumer the output of the organization.

A marketing feedback loop - sell the improved product, assess progress (is it selling), ask customers if they like the new product, fix it, improve it, and make changes.

Marketing Feedback Loop: When discussing the broader organizational mission to users through a marketing plan, it’s useful to iterate how and what is said.

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