Mission statements are great as tools to guide your organization, but they don’t work as marketing messages. Here’s why:
1. They’re too long.
We can count on one hand the short and memorable mission statements we’ve seen. Mission statements need to say a lot about why your organization exists and the change you hope to create. That amount of detail makes it hard for them to appear with logos or in other areas where a marketing message is required.
2. They not audience-directed.
Mission statements are internal statements written to guide the direction of an organization. They don’t speak to external audiences to let them know why someone should care about an organization. A good marketing message is written specifically for your external audience to help them understand what you do and why it matters to them.
3. The language is too formal.
Advocate. Revitalize. Build capacity. These words may mean something to those of us in the biz, but to our audiences, these words may have little meaning. Marketing messages need to use language that relates to those outside the nonprofit world.
4. They are not memorable.
Try to recite your mission statement. You can’t? That’s okay. Most can’t. Mission statements are not crafted to be memorable. Just another reason to have a marketing message that audiences can remember.
5. They don’t say what makes your organization different.
Your mission statement doesn’t always explain how you’re different from other organizations. Marketing messages position you in the marketplace so that your audiences understand what makes your organization unique.
Check out these three organizations’ mission statements and marketing messages. Can you see the difference?
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Mission statement: To build trusting and enduring relationships that encourage and support young people.
Marketing message: Be there.
In this case, the mission statement is one of the more concise ones we’ve seen. But the marketing message takes the idea of “building enduring relationships” and turns it into a call-to-action that challenges their audience and tells them what the organization does. It’s easy to incorporate into marketing materials, and it’s memorable.
Voices for Children
Mission statement: Voices for Children advocates for abused and neglected children and youth in St. Louis by representing their best interests in court and in the community.
Marketing message: Speaking up for kids in foster care.
Words like “advocates” and “represents” can be mouthfuls in a marketing message. “Speaking up” says the same thing in more simple language. It also explains and expands what “Voice” means in the organization’s name.
Bridgeway Behavioral Health
Mission statement: Bridgeway Behavioral Health guarantees that every client we serve will leave our programs with the tools needed to make better choices and increase their opportunity for a happier, healthier and more productive life.
Marketing message: When life takes a turn for the worst, turn to the best.
The goal of recovery is to make your life better, and this mission statement communicates that. However, it is long and is not audience-directed. The marketing message covers the same ground, but in a more concise way while speaking directly to its intended audiences.
Take the pressure off your mission statement.
Let it define your goals and give you focus BUT don’t expect it to be your marketing message. Instead, develop a message that is clear, concise, memorable and most importantly answers the question, “Why should I care?” If you could use help with this, let us know!