Inspire Employees and Engage Customers When Your Vision Statement Becomes Inspirational, and Intrinsic to your Marketing Plan
Small business vision statements run the gamut from the boringly generic to the unattainable specific – and everything in between. Get it wrong and run the risk of being pointless and producing passionless patrons; but get it right, and you can inspire your employees and engage customers as never before.
Not to be confused with mission statements (which usually speak in practical terms about who your business serves and what purpose it serves) and taglines (customer promises or short, quippy one-liners that convey unique selling propositions and which, like other seasonal or cyclical marketing copy, change fairly frequently) your small business vision statement should speak to how fulfillment of your mission and delivery of your tagline (or customer promises) will change your business, industry and world – for the better.
“Above all be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose,
and devote yourself unreservedly to it.”
— James Allen, British writer
When you set out to craft a vision statement to engage customers and inspire employees, understand that it may not be easy and you may have to hone your vision statement over several sessions until it is perfect. But it’s worth it!
Business Strategy: The Best Vision Statements Inspire and Engage
A vision statement should inspire employees by telling them what the business will be like for employees when it’s ‘all grown up.’ It must also do double duty and engage customers by making them feel as though they are part of something bigger good, as a result of doing business with you.
There is no set formula for writing an inspirational, engaging vision statement, but there are plenty of examples of organizations that got it right (and others that got it wrong):
“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.”
*If you have a body, you are an athlete.
And another Nike gem from 1960: “Crush Adidas.”
“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
“Through all of our products, services and relationships, we will add to life’s enjoyment. Enrich and entertain a global audience. And deliver superior returns to our shareholders.”
Toys ‘R’ Us:
“Our Vision is to put joy in kids’ hearts and a smile on parents’ faces.”
US President John F. Kennedy on the moon landing project, in 1961:
“To land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade.”
Can you see how the organizations that have engaging, inspirational and compelling vision statements simply hone in on the single most important benefit produced as a result of their goods and services?
“If you can articulate a vision that makes people passionate,
there are so many amazing things you can do.”
— Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, Xerox Corporation
On the other hand, here are a few less-than-inspiring vision statements that can help you know how not to write your vision statement:
An International Computer Selling Giant:
“To be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve.” (Well, DUH!)
A PR / Marketing Firm:
“We recalibrate brands to broaden awareness, reframe global positions and re-connect with core customers. Our business is to help you form relationships and effectively engage.” (Sure it is…)
A Newspaper Advertising Department Vision Statement:
“Getting it right the first time… More often.” (If that doesn’t inspire reader confidence, I don’t know what will!)
And two more uninspiring snoozers: “We maximize our customers’ ability to get their work done,” and “Develop, deploy, and manage a diverse set of scalable and strategic knowledge management tools to serve our customers, improving the possibility of overall satisfaction among our diverse customer profiles.”
Many vision statements fail to touch on unique selling propositions (also called unique value propositions) and other selling points that matter to their customers and differentiate their businesses from those of their competitors. Many fail by trying to be too eloquent, at the expense of simplicity of vision.
To inspire employees and engage customers, your vision statement must be clear and concise. It should hit on your big hairy audacious idea – your unique selling proposition or points of differentiation. It should give employees and customers compelling reasons to want to be associated with the brand of your business – and its vision for the future.
My 2015 Small Business Marketing Calendar is available on amazon.com — absolutely packed with marketing inspiration and a working calendar that you can use to attract – engage – retain and motivate your customers in the coming year.