There is no more powerful and simple method to grow revenues, add customers and increase your competitive edge than by creating a vision statement. And yet, so many executives and companies operate without one.
For all of you who are responsible for sales targets or brands, whether you be CEOs, CMOs, or VP of sales, here’s why you should take the time to create a vision statement, what might be standing in your way, and how to get started.
The benefits of a Vision Statement:
- Your vision statement informs key decisions such as how you brand or re-brand yourself, how to market yourself, who your customers are, and who you’re competing with. It forms the basis of every key strategic decision you’ll make and every piece of content you’ll produce. Think of it as Vision -> Strategy -> Plan. Without vision you have no real strategy, and therefore no real plan.
- Your vision statement will allow you to experiment and means that you can measure success, adapt to changes, and constantly improve. Think of your first vision statement as an experiment that you will fine tune over time.
- Lastly, your vision statement is a powerful tool for delegation and will help you scale by creating alignment across your organization.
Many executives operate without a clear vision. Here are some of the reasons why companies don’t have a clear vision statement. By identifying the roadblock it should be easier to overcome it.
- Lack of confidence. Executives tend to think their vision statement needs to be permanent and therefore hesitate to commit to one. But, it’s better to change a vision statement more frequently than to operate without one.
- Another obstacle is time. It’s easy for executives to spend too much time on day-to-day tactics and not enough for strategic thinking and direction setting. Do yourself a favor and put a stake in the ground. Committing to a few hours per week, for just 4 weeks, can get you a long way there.
Here’s a simple, 5 step process to create a vision statement:
Step 1. Outline Your Core Values – identify your unique differentiators
- Make a list of adjectives that define you and your company. How would you describe yourself and how would others describe you? What makes you unique?
- You start here because this is what’s inherent and therefore totally authentic.
- Pro Tip – Ask for feedback from clients and partners? Why did they choose you? What do they value most?
Step 2. Identify your target customers – and define your core purpose
- Who are you serving today and who do you want to be serving? For example, are you moving up market or into a niche? Are you broadening capabilities or focusing on a core?
- Your vision statement should make it clear who your customers are and how you serve them. It should answer the questions – what problem do I solve for my customers and why am I in business?
- Pro Tip – Use Personas to capture key criteria such as industry, role, geography, technographic data or anything that will help you isolate, identify and target.
Step 3. Run a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) – identify your opportunities and threats
- Run a quick SWOT analysis focusing especially on the opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses serve mainly to qualify these, i.e. whether or not you’re in a position to seize opportunity or avoid threat.
- Create a vision that aligns with your core values and takes you towards those opportunities you’re naturally suited for and away from weakness and threats. A good SWOT analysis begins to pave the way for direction setting and provides the basis for experimentation.
- Pro Tip – Assigning themes to organize the SWOT factors will help you better understand and prioritize the output.
Step 4. Create the Competitive Landscape – locate yourself in the market
- Most companies will have competition as a core theme in Threats. The competitive analysis let’s you drill down and expand into that threat and turn it into an opportunity. For example, you may choose to take on a competitor or carve out a niche for yourself.
- If you don’t already have one, make a list of your competitors and prioritize them. If you’re not sure who you’re competing with, make a list of those companies you aspire to be. How are you different? Where are the gaps in the marketplace?
Step 5. Create your long-term goal – visualize the destination
- Peter Diamandis refers to this as Massively Transformative Purpose (MTP) while Jim Collins (in Good to Great) refers to it as Big Audacious Hairy Goal (BHAG).
- This is the final step and should clearly define where you’re going and what it will look like when you arrive. A vision statement should make it clear how you’ll know when you’ve been successful.
It isn’t hard to create a vision statement and it’s better to have a vision that might change over time, than to operate without one. Think of it as a means to experiment and evolve, and activate those you work with towards a shared outcome.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the above process. In particular, I’d love to hear examples (good or bad) of vision statements.
I’m going to be sharing more on vision statements and related topics covering all aspects of revenue generation across marketing and sales. So stay tuned for more updates.
For Further Reading
- Jim Collins author of From Good to Great –
- Peter’s Laws from Peter Diamandis – http://www.diamandis.com/peters-laws