Mission statements and vision statements: do your customers need to know?

I have worked with many clients on web writing projects, helping them develop the content for their websites. My goal is always to think about the reader, i.e., the (potential) customer. What information are they looking for on the site, and what do they need to know?

However, there are many business owners out there who believe that their vision statement and mission statement deserve a place on their website, and some believe these deserve their very own page on the site, too.

You can probably tell by my tone of writing that I don’t agree. Thinking like a customer, I look at most websites like this: I am going to visit this site to get information on your company to make a decision on whether I will do business with you. I will look at your About page that tells me who you are, a page that tells me about the work you do (such as Services, Projects or Clients), I might check out your blog to get a sense of the “flavour” of your business, and if I like what I see, I’ll visit your Contact page.

I’m willing to bet that there is a very small (as in, miniscule) amount of traffic going to the “Mission Statement” page or the “Vision Statement” page. And here’s why: your customers don’t care about your vision or your mission.

Some business owners are a little shocked, and maybe even a little hurt to hear that. (The first time I resorted to saying it to a client who insisted on it, he looked a little offended, then was thoughtful a moment before saying, “You know, you’re probably right.”) Of course you have worked hard on developing this statement to guide your company for the short and long term, and it defines who you are as a business and where you are going. You might be, and should be, emotionally invested in it. But it’s not the information your customers are looking for.

Your customers and clients want to know if you can do the job; if you can do it on time and on budget; or if you can get them the product they need or want. Your vision about being this kind of company or that kind of company means nothing to them, because you haven’t proven it to them by just slapping a vision statement on your website. Instead, show them what your vision and mission is about by proving you measure up to your own standards. There are a couple of ways to do this:

  • Use testimonials: not on a single testimonial page, but scattered throughout your site.
  • Use video, of key personnel in your business: talking about your processes and approach (web visitors love a well-done video, and I can recommend a good videographer or two.)
  • A blog can also allow you to tell about examples and case studies of some client problems you were able to solve, and discuss trends in your industry that show you’re an expert in your field.

So what is the mission statement or vision statement for, then? I recommend to my clients that they keep them posted in their offices, for themselves and their staff to see. It’s an internal document to help remind your team of your direction and goals, and a guide for the short and long term, in both decision-making and in practice. It’s just not a marketing piece.

What’s your experience? Do you normally check out the mission or vision statement of a company you’re thinking of doing business with? Why or why not?

 

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