Why Your Enterprise Needs a Content Marketing Mission Statement

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by Joe Pulizzi, CEO, Content Marketing Institute

A mission statement is a company’s reason for existence. It’s why the organization does what it does. Southwest Airlines’ mission statement has always been to democratize the travel experience. The mission statement for CVS is to be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use. So, in simple terms, the mission statement must answer the question, “Why do we exist?”

In almost every one of my keynote presentations, I cover the content marketing mission statement. It’s critical to set the tone for the idea of content marketing, or any marketing for that matter. Marketing professionals from small and large businesses get so fixated on channels such as blogs, Facebook or Pinterest that they honestly have no clue of the underlying reason for why they should use that channel in the first place. So, the why must come before the what. This seems obvious, but most marketers have no mission statement or core strategy behind the content they develop. Epic content marketing is impossible without a clear and formidable why.

Think of it this way: What if you were the leading trade magazine for your niche area? What if your goal was not to first sell products and services but to impact your readers with amazing information that changes their lives and careers?

Why Inc. Succeeds

Inc. magazine has its mission statement in the first line of its About Us page.

Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.

Let’s dissect this a bit. Inc’s mission statement includes:

  • The core audience target: entrepreneurs and business owners
  • What will be delivered to the audience: useful information, advice, insights, resources, and inspiration
  • The outcome for the audience: growing their businesses

Inc’s mission statement is incredibly simple and includes no words that can be misunderstood. Simplicity is key for how you will use your content marketing mission statement.

Content Marketing Mission Statements in Action

P&G has produced HomeMadeSimple.com for more than a decade now. Millions of consumers have signed up at HomeMadeSimple to receive regular updates and tips to help them be more efficient in the home.

The content marketing mission statement for HomeMadeSimple.com is:

Whether it’s a delicious recipe, an inspiring décor idea or a refreshing approach to organizing, we strive to help you [Moms] create a home that’s truly your own. Everything we do here is designed to empower and inspire you to make your home even better, and most importantly, a place you love to be.

HomeMadeSimple’s mission includes:

  • The core audience target: on-the-go moms (P&G doesn’t explicitly say this on its site for obvious reasons, but this is its audience).
  • What will be delivered to the audience: recipes, inspiring ideas, and new approaches to organization.
  • The outcome for the audience: Improve your home life.

So, for P&G, if the story idea doesn’t fit into these three tenets, it’s a nonstarter.

Why is the content marketing mission statement so critical for businesses and their content? Your team needs to come up with great content ideas all the time — for the blog, for your Facebook page, for your newsletter. The way that you know whether story ideas are appropriate or not is to check each one against your content marketing mission statement.

If someone from P&G has a great idea targeted to dads and wants to put it on HomeMadeSimple, it won’t get accepted. It’s the wrong target audience. What if the story is about how to fix a tire? Nope… doesn’t fit with the promise of what you’ll consistently deliver.

Other mission statements worth checking out include:

  • American Express Open Forum: OPEN Forum is an online community to exchange insights, get advice from experts, and build connections to help you power your small business success.
  • Content Marketing Institute: Deliver real-world how-to advice about content marketing in all channels (online, print and in-person) to help enterprise marketing professionals become less reliant on outside media channels.
  • Parametric Technology (PTC) Product Lifecycle Blogs: Deliver non-product-specific, general interest news stories that relate, directly or indirectly, to the topic of product development and how it relates to design engineers. The goal is for design engineers to think differently about innovation and product development.
  • Kraft Foods: Create delicious meal solutions that inspire amazing food stories which spread to drive sales and create value for Kraft Foods.
  • Williams-Sonoma: Be the leader in cooking and entertaining by delivering great products, world-class service and engaging content.

CM Mission Best Practices

Remember, content marketing is not about “what you sell” it’s about “what you stand for.” The informational needs of your customers and prospects come first. Although there must be clear marketing objectives behind the mission statement, they don’t need to be outlined here. The Inc. mission statement doesn’t say anything about selling more advertising or paid event registrations. The P&G mission statement doesn’t say anything about selling more Swiffer pads. To work, your mission statement has to be all about the pain points of your readers and followers. If it isn’t, it simply won’t work.

What Do You Do with It?

Not only does the content marketing mission statement provide the basis for your content strategy moving forward, it’s instrumental to your entire content creation process.

  • Post it: Include the mission statement where it can be found easily by your audience. The best place to put it is anywhere you develop non-product oriented content for your customers, like your blog site, Facebook page or main content site (like an AMEX Open Forum).
  • Spread it: Make sure everyone involved in your content marketing process has the mission statement. Encourage them to print it out and pin it up on the wall. This includes giving it to employees involved in the content creation process, as well as any agency partners or freelancers you may be using. So often, content creators in a company are not aware of the overall content mission. Make sure you don’t let that happen.
  • The litmus test: Use the mission statement to decide what content you will and won’t create. Often, a bad judgment in content creation can be fixed by running it by the mission statement.

So before you start creating and curating more content within your organization, get your content marketing mission statement completed and distributed. You’ll be amazed how much more your processes will be positively affected by getting everyone on the same page with what your customers’ informational needs are.

Epic-Content-Marketing_Book-202x300Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World.

Joe’s third book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less takes business owners and marketers A-to-Z toward creating a content marketing strategy that works to grow the business.

You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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5 Responses to “Why Your Enterprise Needs a Content Marketing Mission Statement”

  1. Jen September 29, 2013 at 8:46 am #

    “If the story idea doesn’t fit into these three tenets, it’s a nonstarter.”

    Wow, Joe, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this topic of how to concisely show value. Mission statements, taglines, the “elevator speech” are versions. You really got to the heart of it here. Thanks a lot for the insight!

    • Joe Pulizzi October 16, 2013 at 5:15 am #

      Thanks Jen…the mission statement is my favorite thing to talk about these days because it’s so important. Appreciate the comment.

  2. Jake Parent September 30, 2013 at 5:36 am #

    It comes down to one thing: focus.

    The kind of clear, concise, and concrete mission statement you are talking about here gives people within an organization a compass for making decisions, but it also tells customers exactly what the company is all about.

    Bringing these two aspects together is key if you want to stop thinking about customers as a static audience and, instead start treating them like successful businesses do: as a dynamic community.

    Great piece.

    -Jake

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