Mission-driven organizations are unique in the very spirit of what they do. Whether it’s a shoe business that also donates footwear to children, or a coffee company that makes fair trade a core priority, mission-driven organizations never forget the heart at the core of their business. Mission-driven marketing strategy doesn’t either.
In fact, this style of marketing uses an organization’s mission as the foundation from which to build all communications strategies. Through promoting the organization’s mission, vision, and values, mission-driven marketing communicates the importance and benefits of achieving the organization’s purpose, aim, and goals to all stakeholders.
Mission-driven is no longer just for the nonprofit sector
Historically, the idea of being “mission-driven” has been associated primarily with the nonprofit sector and non-governmental organizations. That has changed: mission-driven organizations can also be for-profit or, in some cases, a hybrid nonprofit ventures.
Many for-profit corporations have initiatives regarding social philanthropy that use a mission as a foundation. Additionally, there is also a new class of corporations called certified benefit corporations (B Corps) that are held to a higher standard: they must be transparent and they must meet social and environmental performance standards. Examples of some B Corps are Method Products, King Arthur Flour Company, Patagonia, New Resources Bank, and Larry’s Beans.
In social entrepreneurship, a mission is created to sustain and promote the social value of the organization. In these social business ventures, the entrepreneurs seek a positive return for society, and don’t just measure performance in terms of profit and return for shareholders. They are looking for collective success wherein individuals and communities enjoy greater economic opportunity, society addresses its most challenging environmental problems, and employees bring their whole selves to work.
Social objectives are not the same as mission-driven
Not every company is mission-driven. Many commercial enterprises have social objectives, and even a mission statement, but are not defined by their mission. It is the motivation behind the social objectives that is different for mission-driven organizations.
These organizations are squarely rooted in their social values—in their formation, management, and goals.
Marketing your mission-driven organization
Having a mission is one thing, achieving it is another. It is not enough to just be mission-driven, you must communicate why your mission matters to your stakeholders. You must connect your values and beliefs to theirs. The challenge is to understand and communicate authentically who you are, what you do, how you do it, and where you want to go.
Odds are there is more than one organization with a mission like yours, so your ability to tell effective stories about the work you do and how YOU are uniquely achieving your mission is important in both attracting and maintaining your stakeholders.
Positioning is key in mission-driven marketing
Mission-driven organizations have a greater need for clear and compelling positioning. You need to occupy a specific place in the minds of your target audience, for a very specific reason. In our totally over-saturated world of media and messaging, choosing a clear position and articulating that focus is key.
Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” Being mission-driven means you are different than the mainstream; you need to own and define that difference. Your mission should make you stand out, but your positioning says exactly why and how are you different and shows how your eccentric, unique idea can change the world.
You know you have a great positioning when there is some discomfort. Some WILL, be attracted (the ones you want), and others WILL NOT (the ones you don’t want). The stronger your position, the more that is true.
You are on a mission and so are we. We make marketing meaningful by marketing true, mission-driven organizations. Together we can make a difference.