How’s your chamber of commerce mission statement?
How does it sound? Awesome? Boring? Full of words that people haven’t used since the 1950s or at least their MBA class?
Business has become a tad less formal these days and if you don’t have a mission that resonates with the more transparent business climate, the everyday use of the language, and the laid-back business community, it might be time to rework it.
But how do you know if it’s time?
What is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement, according to the dictionary, is a “formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.”
Broken down into digestible pieces it is:
We are this. We do this. For these people.
But that’s not very sexy so most organizations create very long statements with big words so people who read it are impressed.
But it doesn’t work like that anymore.
People want something that’s understandable, at the very least. But really they want something that makes them scream, “I want to be part of that.” But they won’t recognize it until they see it.
So you need to give it to them.
There are two kinds of mission statements — those written in plain English and those written in “business speak” that you need an MBA to appreciate.
A decade ago, the latter was the most common and lauded. If yours sounds like that, it’s time to reconsider a few things.
Today, people won’t connect with something they don’t understand. A good chamber of commerce mission statement needs to be:
- relatable. They shouldn’t need a dictionary to get your meaning.
- brief. People skim these days. Even short paragraphs can be too long if they anticipate the subject matter will be dry. Instead, create a punch one- to two-liner that captivates, resonates, and is easy to remember.
- emotional. You’re not going to win any prizes for creating the most robotic mission statement ever. You need something that tells what you do and how you help in a way that helps you connect with people on an emotional level.
So how do you put these ideas to work? It’s easier than you think.
Here are a few tips that can help you create a chamber of commerce mission statement people will want to get behind.
Keep It Short
Two to three sentences will do it. The longer it is, the more forgettable. In an article on Top Nonprofits analyzing 50 of the top mission statements, the average length was only 15.3 words (not including brand references). TED’s is among the shortest we’ve seen at just two words, Spreading Ideas. But it doesn’t leave any doubt about what that group is focused on.
Your Mission Statement Equals Your Core Purpose
What are you trying to do, how, for whom, and what is its value? Every word in your statement should speak to those questions. If they don’t, cut them.
If I was Simon Sinek I’d tell you that your mission statement all comes down to your why.
It Must Take into Account Your Stakeholders
If you’re stuck on the wording, keep in mind who you are targeting. Think about how you would reach that person and appeal to him/her. That includes defining what you do for your members, staff, and community.
Every Member of Your Staff Should Understand It (at first glance)
While rolling out your new chamber mission statement is a nice touch and a great occasion for fanfare, it should never serve as an occasion where you need to explain the statement to your staff or audience. After one read people should be able to reflect back to you the sentiment behind the statement. If they can’t, it’s too complicated.
You want your staff, and anyone interested, to be able to summarize it quickly and know exactly what you stand for. Because of that…
Don’t Use Corporate Lingo
Since every word is important in an abbreviated mission statement for today’s busy world, don’t waste time using corporate words like “synergistic.” They cause people to lose interest. Instead use vibrant, exciting words to convey your message.
Also, there are certain words that although we might consider then commonplace in business circles, they still might not resonate with your particular audience. I was talking to a business owner the other day who has successfully run a B2B company for twenty years. She asked me to remove the words “sales funnel” out of a blog post I had written for her because she said her audience didn’t think in those terms.
Sometimes we assume all businesses use the basics of marketing or sales terminology. That might not be the case. It’s something you should consider with your chamber mission statement.
Ask yourself: “Do my members (and the community at large) use the words I do here?”
If they don’t, take them out.
However, you don’t want your mission statement to sound like everyone else’s. If you do, stop reading. Google “mission statement” and copy the first one that comes up.
Don’t Force It
It’s likely that if you start thinking about reworking the chamber’s mission statement you’ll develop a paralyzing writer’s block. There’s just so much at stake, right? Plus, it sounds like a very difficult task. It governs and represents all chamber activity! It has to be perfect. You can only use two or so sentences! Good grief!
The type of mission statement that will be most effective these days is one that you feel. It’s not a college entrance essay.
If you’re struggling, try this exercise by writing down the answers to these questions:
- who do we serve?
- how do we help (frame this through the lens of “what good does your chamber do”)?
Take a look at American Express and how they factor in their employees:
“We have a mission to be the world’s most respected service brand. To do this, we have established a culture that supports our team members, so they can provide exceptional service to our customers.”
If you’re still struggling, stop calling it a mission or a vision statement (maybe that’s too much pressure) and just think of it as your reason for being here.
Mission Statements Can Be:
- split for internal and external use. Your internal use may be more inspirational for your employees helping them to see that they are a part of something amazing, while your external mission statement may point to the problems you’re solving, good you’re doing, and how you’re helping the members and community at large.
- referred to as vision statements, if you prefer. Some chambers have both, others use those titles interchangeably.
- more of a slogan or tag line with a little added bonus.
- something that guides your every decision by asking, “is this in keeping with our mission statement?”
- (and should be) unique to you. Can other groups claim the same things? Then maybe it’s not targeted enough.
- something that explains your chamber’s purpose (a requirement for IRS exemption from federal income tax).
- something that changes as your chamber focus does.
Chamber Mission Statement Examples
Here are a few mission statements from chambers across the country:
The Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization dedicated to serving Scottsdale, regional businesses and community prosperity through advocacy, access to leaders, economic development, connectivity
The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce leads our community toward sustainable economic growth, advocates a pro-business climate for our members, builds upon Conway’s educational foundations, and establishes and executes the community’s vision.
The Palm Beach Chamber of Commerce is the primary forum for the local business community which seeks to strategically contribute to a vibrant economy through leadership, education
The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce is a county business organization working to represent its membership and to provide leadership for positive economic growth and change.
The Nassau County Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based association of Nassau County businesses, professional leaders and individuals working together to provide leadership which will aggressively promote and defend responsible economic growth, employment opportunities, government and excellence in education and quality of life.
The Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce exists to provide leadership and to serve and represent our members so their businesses and our community will prosper.
The Mission of the Alpharetta Chamber of Commerce is to advance and promote the economic environment for
The Gettysburg Adams Chamber of Commerce supports and strengthens our members and the Adams County area by promoting diverse economic opportunities through advocacy, building relationships, providing timely information and developing leaders for the future.
Your mission statement is the foundation for your branding. It must be simple to understand in a language that doesn’t turn people off. Chambers are in the business of business. And business is comprised of people. Ultimately, you need to appeal to humans in your statement. Remember, your mission statement is articulating your purpose and should help you reach new members. It isn’t meant to impress your business professor.