Why mission statements harm your message

Forget about your corporate mission statement… at least when you are trying to convince an audience about your product or service. Most mission statements are earnest expressions of good intentions. And great cures for insomnia. Here’s an example of how deadly dull they can be: 

“The mission of the National Outdoor Leadership School is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment.”

Most mission statements are bloated and self-serving. Fluffy statements of the blindingly obvious. But the biggest problem with mission statements is that they are intended for internal consumption only. So don’t think of trotting out your mission statement when you are preparing for a media interview. 

When you talk to the media you need compelling arguments that make strong soundbites. A mission statement does neither – and can muffle your message.

If you are hoping to get some traction in a media interview, or to be a hit when you speak in public or make a presentation, you need to look way beyond the mission statement.

Focus on benefits, not process.

Your message needs to be about how you help people. How you make their lives better, or safer, or more fun. How you save them money, or time, or trouble. How you make their homes or their offices run more smoothly. 

Effective messaging talks about what you do – from the client’s perspective. 

So before you start bragging about being ‘the leading teacher of wilderness skills’, pause. Ask yourself how people’s lives will change because of the skills you will teach them. 

  • What will they be able to do that they couldn’t do before?
  • How will they feel about that? 
  • How much more confident will they feel about dealing with a crisis in the woods or on the hills? 

They could have more fun.

They could have bigger adventures.

Maybe they could save lives.

When you are figuring out how to deal with the media, it helps to discover the highest expression of the benefit of your service or product? When you are defining your key message, see how high you can raise the stakes.