Monday, February 11, 2013

Mission Statement as Strategic Guiding Light

Marketing isn't just about money: It's also about making a real difference to stakeholders (customers and community, employees, suppliers, channel partners, and so on).

The best mission statements serve as strategic guidance for long-term and day-to-day decisions because they spell out the firm's fundamental purpose, its foundational values, and its aspirations.

Consider Ben & Jerry's mission statement, which has three parts: the social mission (improve quality of life), product mission (make fine, all-natural ice cream in a sustainable way), and economic mission (be profitable to add value for shareholders and employees).

Even though Ben & Jerry's has been owned by Unilever since 2000, the company clearly marches to a different drummer, which its marketing reflects. Over the years, the corporate parent has influenced Ben & Jerry's, and vice versa.

The Starbucks mission statement is short and to the point: "to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time." Starbucks identifies as its stakeholders: customers, employees ("partners"), coffee growers, stores, neighborhoods, and shareholders. The company explains in some detail how its mission and vision affect each group, giving marketers and other decisionmakers a goal and a responsibility for living up to the mission.

Coca-Cola's mission has three parts: (1) to refresh the world, (2) to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and (3) to create value and make a difference. This mission directs its decisions about people, product portfolio, the planet, profit, and productivity. Its marketing follows the mission, bringing a smile to customers' faces and accentuating the positive in an entertaining way.

Of course, some mission statements may seem too filled with platitudes to be helpful in guiding marketing. Check the mission statements of some firms you buy from or admire. What do you think?

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