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Don’t Turn Your Mission Statement Into a Word Salad

When I joined Searchspring, I set out to understand the employees and the company. One of the first things I did was run a survey, it was a simple 12 question survey and one of the questions was, “Do you understand the purpose and mission of the company?”. The resounding answer was “No”. There was no mission statement so I was not entirely surprised, not only do you need a mission statement, but you need to make sure the boat is pointed and everyone is onboard and knows the direction.

Writing a mission statement is tough, very tough. I have done it a few times and it seems that the more people you gather the more you steer off the actual mission. When we first started my CTO sent me this video on what goes wrong with mission statement creation. This video gave me a bit of PTSD as back when I was leading Austin Kayak we had a mission, but it was not fully formalized and my VP of Marketing said we can’t curse in our mission and we should rethink it to be more broad. The problem is that we did exactly what was in that video my CTO sent me, we made a word salad.

Original: “To provide the most kick ass customer experience so customers come back again and again.”

New: “Inspire our customers to get outdoors by providing high quality products at fair prices with literally the best customer service from passionate employees.”

We even made a terrible video you can watch if you’d like.

So when Searchspring set out to determine what our mission was, we discussed who we were targeting and whose problems we were trying to solve and it quickly became apparent that no matter your job title, the role we were helping was the online merchandisers. You may be the CEO, CDO, VP of Ecommerce, or Digital Merchandiser, your title is sort of irrelevant as our tools are designed to help you merchandise your site. We spent an hour or two brainstorming and kept going down the word salad path when our CTO uttered the words that stuck, “We give merchandisers superpowers” and born was our mission statement: “Give Merchandisers Superpowers”.

I loved it as it checked off a bunch of boxes. The employees would have absolutely zero problem remembering it, it would be easy to tell a customer that we are the solution to help them get superpowers, and most importantly we could easily link it to each department and how they contribute. There is often a disconnect between departments and someone in Engineering may say, “I can’t influence that we missed sales” but if the mission is clear it is easy to talk to Engineering and show them that what they build gives merchandisers superpowers and sales then can sell that to the prospective clients.

Everytime I get on the phone with a current or prospective customer I get very excited talking about our product but I get most excited talking about our mission. I want nothing more than our tools to give merchandisers superpowers to drive higher conversion and AOV.