A mission statement is like the objective block on a person's resume'. It's philosophical. It's short. If it is done well, it's a great part of the marketing plan. If done poorly, you might be better off not including it. As a result, like the objective on a resume, some people think it is crucial to the final product (the marketing plan) and some people think it is not a big deal.

Where do I stand on the value of a mission statement? If you have a good one, there are many positive things you can do with it, like use it in your marketing campaigns, motivate employees, keep everyone on the same page, and more. If it is bad, well, your company could be better off without it.

It's philosophical, and as such, you need to decide how much importance to place on your mission. If you can write a good statement, your effort will probably be reimbursed in your attitude and perhaps even in an improved elevator speech (that 30-second or less spiel that you use to describe your company to people you meet).

If this is a roadblock for you, come back to it later and decide how much importance you want to place on it then.

A mission statement does these four things.

1. It comforts your clients by describing how you'll fulfill their needs.

2. It describes what, why, and how your company does things.

3. It is unique to your company.

4. It affects your behavior and the behavior of your employees.

A mission statement is just that, a statement of what your company does, how your company does this, and why your company does this. A mission statement describes why your company exists. It indicates what the company's values are and how it will fulfill customer needs.

Mission statements are short, generally a paragraph in length at most. Often, they are one sentence long.

Mission statements aren't hidden away. Many companies post them in fancy frames or paint them on the wall for customers to see, or give them their own page on their websites.

Mission statements talk about what the company is doing right now. (A vision statement talks about the future direction you want to take the company.)

A good mission statement has four important parts to it. Firstly, the statement is meaningful and not just fluff. Secondly, the statement is unique to you and your company, and it describes your company's purpose. Thirdly, the statement has enough power in it that it will impact you and affect your behavior. Lastly, the statement tells how you will fulfill your customer's needs.

A bad one just contains fluff. A bad mission statement would be akin to patting a child's back and saying "it's going to be okay," or a statement that is garbled and obfuscated and you can't make sense of it.

That's all fine and good, but what does it mean? Review some statements and decide if they are good or not. Remember to test the statement with the questions below. You can find mission statements by going to a web site and search for "mission statement." Whether or not you can find the statement that way is one indication about the company.

1. Is the statement unique to the company and does it indicate your company's purpose?

2. Will the statement affect employee behavior?

3. Does the statement invoke any emotion?

4. Will it comfort your clients by explaining how you'll meet their needs?