Whether you're landing on the moon or growing a manufacturing business, your mission statement must be audience focused.
Most companies think of a mission statement as the mission of the company. For example, we see a lot of mission statements that start off with “We offer high reliability and added value .” Another common phrase is “Our company mission is profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality, and commitment.” Here's another one “Our mission is to become the leading provider of blah, blah, blah.”
The one thing most of these mission statements have in common is that they are about what the company wants to be, do, or offer. They ignore the target audience. They try to match what they think their customers want to the mission statement. There may or may not be a place for this type of mission statement at your company; you will have to decide.
This discussion will be about a different type of mission statement, an audience-facing mission statement.
Success will go to the company that can build its mission around the needs of the audience instead of around what the firm wants to be or thinks it wants to be. A manufacturing business that defines a mission that is about solving a problem for the target audience will win against competitors that continue to focus on using the mission statement to describe themselves. It is a somewhat subtle difference, but a significant difference.
In delineating the pains or passions of your target audience, it is essential to understand their pain and aspirations fully. Many times, especially in more established companies, there is a collective or innate knowledge that gets passed around between the employees from generation to generation. This collective consciousness becomes a “known fact” after many years of everyone saying the same thing, but no one knows from whence this knowledge comes.
Conduct some primary research with your target audience to determine their pain or problems. In many cases, fresh primary research will refute the common knowledge shared by the employees. If your firm does not possess the competence to conduct a proper research study, outsource the project to a company that specializes in primary market research. Do not rely on a short informal survey of your customer base or prospective customer database. This type of informal survey will not give you an accurate analysis of the entire target audience.
Let me give you an example of the type of valuable information proper primary research can unearth. As the global marketing director for a company that manufactured high-end measurement instruments, my marketing responsibility was within the life science industry. The collective knowledge often touted by the sales and product teams was that our market share was above 40 percent and the brand was very well known among all life science companies. Some said that the brand was the market leader and every one of the big pharmaceutical companies knew the brand well.
I hired a firm to conduct primary market research, and the result ultimately refuted the collective knowledge. In fact, about 70 percent of the people in the life science target audience who had the responsibility of purchasing this specific type of measurement instrument had no idea of the name brand of their existing instrument. Even more telling was the fact that less than 5 percent of those polled had heard of our company brand. Wow! That revelation completely changed the way we decided to go to market.
To determine your audience-facing mission statement, you will draw on the target market information and decisions you identified in your marketing plan. Recall the sweet spot of engagement and the sweet spot diagram, reprinted below.
Follow these steps to determine your best audience-facing mission statement:
Step 1: Write down as many as five pain points. Align each pain point with expertise that your company offers to help relieve the pain. As an example of a pain point, if your manufacturing firm makes particle measurement instruments, some of the pain points might be (1) cannot rely on the measurement, (2) cannot get a repeatable measurement, (3) cannot keep the instrument within specifications.
If the firm manufactures industrial gloves to meet OSHA safety requirements, some target audience pain points might be (1) difficulty understanding OSHA regulations that apply to their plant, (2) difficulty knowing which type of glove to choose for various applications, (3) difficulty choosing a glove that fits correctly.
If your firm manufactures airplane navigation charts for general aviation pilots, some passion points might be (1) to be the best pilot in their respective community, (2) to get more enjoyment out of their hobby, (3) to create safe and secure flight plans.
Step 2 - Write down the points of expertise that exist within your company. The expertise should not be about your products. Expertise and experts abound throughout your organization. Check out your R&D team, your customer service team, and your technical support team for experts with varying degrees of knowledge who can address the pain or passion points you chose in Step 1.
When you approach the experts, be aware that they will be apprehensive about the time commitment or what will be required of them. They may be hesitant or even downright afraid you will ask them to write something or speak in front of a group. When you approach them about their expertise, be sure to reassure them that you, the marketer, will do all the work and all they will have to do is talk about their expertise. If you are lucky, you might find a few experts who want to write or speak, and that is a big bonus!
For example, if your firm manufactures particle counters, you are not looking for an expert on how to make the instruments, you are looking for an expert who understands the different types of particle measuring technology and the pros and cons of each type.
As another example, if we go back to the company that manufactures humidity measurement instruments, they will likely have scientists on staff who know everything about the science of humidity and the associated measurement technologies. These experts would be a good source of information to help people relieve the pain of making poor and unreliable measurements.
Recalling the example of the firm that manufactures industrial gloves, a relevant expert would be one with knowledge about OSHA regulations and who has relationships with OSHA personnel.
Step 3 - Describe the sweet spot of engagement, where the pain points and the expertise overlap. You should only choose one topic for the sweet spot. There are multiple lines included in the diagram so you can present numerous options for discussion. The sweet spot will be the intersection of one pain or passion point and one area of expertise. You may have identified more than one sweet spot for each, but you must select your best choice.
As an example, with the humidity instrument company, you might choose the pain point as being unable to rely on the instrument making a repeatable measurement. The expertise point might be knowledge of how the different types of technology work in various applications.
In the industrial glove company, the pain point might be a lack of understanding of OSHA regulations. The expertise point might be the knowledge held within the research and development team about relevant OSHA regulations.
In the particle measurement instrument company, the pain point might be not understanding the various ISO cleanroom standards and what must be done to comply. The expertise might be a thorough understanding of how to design and qualify a clean room for multiple applications.
Step 4 - Craft the AFMS. Just to be clear, we are talking about engagement with people in the target audience at the top of the sales funnel. When the people make it to the bottom of the funnel, you will apply your product expertise, features, spec sheets, etc. You may even break out the product videos and product webinars at the bottom of the funnel, but for early audience engagement, which is where the money lies (revenue growth), you will need a guiding AFMS to drive your marketing decisions.
It is important to only focus on one topic at the intersection of pain and expertise. Do not discard your additional work (you can always use it later), but make sure you only work on one sweet spot at a time. The reason you should choose one is that you will be developing content defined by the AFMS. It will be very important to evaluate your marketing activities to determine if your decision about the mission statement and the content was the correct choice.
Developing more than one mission statement may be too much for your team. The prevailing assumption is that your manufacturing marketing team is limited to personnel, budget, and resources. If you happen to work in a company where marketing resources are abundant, it may be possible to develop more than one AFMS for multiple segments, product lines, etc. at the same time.
The audience-facing mission statement is very similar to a textbook positioning statement. There should be three parts to your mission statement:
- Target Market. The target market should be defined based on criteria that can be segmented by such things as demographics, geography, psychographics, pains, needs, etc. “All” or “everyone” is not acceptable criteria.
- Pain or Passion. Name the pain that your firm’s expertise can relieve or name the passion that your firm’s expertise can address.
- The Payoff. This ties the pain or passion point with the needs or goals of the target audience. You need to tell the target audience how you will help them achieve what they want to make.
Construct your audience-facing mission statement something like this:
“To help the people in our target audience of quality professionals in the pharmaceutical industry within the United States and Canada to make a more reliable, repeatable, and accurate measurement of humidity so that they can improve their production yield and prevent loss of product that may be caused by environmental variations.”
“To help the people in our target audience of managers within the process industries to better understand and comply with OSHA regulations concerning protective hand wear so they can keep their employees safe and comply with government regulations, resulting in fewer workplace accidents and OSHA violations.”
1. Assemble your marketing team and go through the sweet spot exercise. The AFMS will be your guiding light. Reject any piece of content or activity that does not fit the AFMS. Align your pilot program with the AFMS. It is also a helpful tool to use in explaining your rationale to management as to why you chose a particular pilot program.