Event planners have a lot of responsibilities, many of which require risk-taking and creative thinking on their feet. So it’s understandable that some businesses choose to overlook the importance of creating a mission statement. Understandable, but wrong. However tempting it is to skip over crafting a mission statement, it can be a fatal mistake for your event business.
Your mission statement is primarily for you, your staff, and any sponsors, vendors, and speakers you hire. But we highly recommend sharing a great one publicly. A slam-dunk mission statement lets your customer base know who you are, and tells them about your unique talents and skills. That’s huge in a competitive, information-saturated industry where there is so much room for variation and diversity. Your vision for your company may be brilliant and unique, but even if you execute it to perfection, without a mission statement you’ll still fail to reach entire niche audiences.
After creating a captivating mission statement, many businesses follow it up with a vision statement. What is a vision statement? Think about it this way: A mission statement defines your cause, and a vision statement describes the future goals of your efforts. In other words, your vision statement tells people what you ultimately hope to accomplish.
Here’s how you can craft the perfect mission and vision statements, and use them to build your brand.
Define Who You Are and What Makes You Stand Out
This is how Wikipedia defines mission statements:
A mission statement is a statement of the purpose of a company, organization, or person; its reason for existing.
According to this definition, a mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”
Let’s extrapolate on that. Your mission statement is meant to express the purpose and values that drive your business. As we mentioned before, there is ample room for creativity and diversity among different event planning businesses. Your mission statement should tell your audience why yours stands out. It should include your unique talents and skill sets pertaining to events. It should also let people know what kind of events and services you specialize in.
After you create it, you can follow it up with a vision statement, but for now let’s keep our focus on the mission statement.
When you describe your values, let people know how your business practices reflect them.
In other words, it’s not just what your company does, it’s how you do it. Your mission statement should convey something special about the way you operate your business- and in this creative industry, every company has unique characteristics that define them. You just have to know what yours are. Before writing a mission statement, we advise every business to sit down and list the qualities that define who they are and make them unique. We assure you, there are many!
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve already added a personal touch to what you do. Writing a mission statement shares that personal touch with others in language that catches their attention. A good mission statement draws people to you, but it’s your personal touch that forms the relationship between you and your customer base over time. So don’t feel like you’re throwing your talents in people’s faces- you’re simply letting them know about you. Then it’s time for their experience with your business to live up to your hype.
Get Straight to the Point
Although your mission statement should be authentic, you should avoid making it wordy and long-winded. First of all, no one will take the time to read a lengthy mission statement, period. It doesn’t matter how interesting the content is. It should be devoid of fluff and verbosity, and shouldn’t feature any complicated strategies.
An example of a powerful mission statement is from the Make-A-Wish Foundation:
The mission of Make-A-Wish International is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.
They follow it up with a simple but emotionally powerful vision statement: We are dedicated to making every eligible child’s wish come true.
Mission and vision statements are useful tools for you as well as your attendees. They clarify your goals so that you can refer back to them over time to motivate and measure your success. And everyone knows that all creative people could use a little clarity to organize their ideas and make them more tangible.
Event planners are constantly snowballing with ideas- and when they’re not, they’ve got the event planner’s version of “writer’s block”. It happens to every creative from time to time; there are too many ideas to choose from, and then suddenly there are none. When you hit one of these creative blocks, it can be helpful to refer back to your mission statement for inspiration. If your goals are fresh and clear in your mind, it’s easier to think of new ways to fulfill them.
Your mission and vision statements will be useful to you in many areas of business development and expansion. When you’re booking a new speaker or vendor, you can ask yourself how this person is an asset to your mission- and how their presence at your event will contribute to the vision you have for your business’s future.
Decide Where You Want to Go- and How You’re Going to Get There
Now it’s time to define your vision for your business’s future, and come up with objectives that will lead you there. Here’s how Wikipedia defines a vision statement:
A vision statement is a declaration of an organization’s objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making.
Granted, that definition overlaps a bit with Wiki’s mission statement definition. However, the definition of a vision statement focuses specifically on an organization’s objectives, which inform the decisions it makes to get where it wants to be in the future. If your staff, vendors, speakers, partners, and sponsors have your vision and objectives in mind, they’ll be much more cohesive. When it comes to pulling off amazing events, it takes a village. An effective vision statement encourages the people you work with to come up with creative ways to execute an event that serves your future goals.
Vision statements are hardly ever revised throughout the lifespan of a business. Sure, your vision of your business’s future may shift in small ways over long periods of time, especially as technology and the culture of your industry changes. But these changes usually affect the means by which you achieve your vision for the future, not the vision itself. Your vision statement contains an emotional value that is unchanging over time.
Consider again the vision statement of Make-A-Wish International: We are dedicated to making every eligible child’s wish come true.
The strategies and practical means by which the organization fulfills that emotional goal may change over time- in fact, it will change over time as the business culture and technology continues to evolve. But Make-A-Wish International’s main objective for the future, to make every eligible child’s wish come true, will remain the same. And really, that goal is the heart of the organization. See what we mean about the importance of vision statements?
Put Your Mission and Values Statement to Practical Use
Now that you understand the purpose and meaning behind mission and values statements, let’s talk about their practical applications. Here’s how to use them to drive business in real life. Now, the mission statement of a nonprofit entity is pretty straightforward. It’s evident in the work they do, and the fact that they don’t do it for profit. But a for-profit business, such as an event planning company, needs to make money. Obviously, that’s an inevitable part of its mission; event planners need to make a living!
Yet when you write a mission/vision statement, this goal should be left out. It’s considered irrelevant in the context of writing these formal statements. You and your staff know that if you achieve the goals you set, you will earn revenue and grow your business. Your mission and vision statements are meant to describe the conceptual and emotional purpose and objectives of your business.
After creating your statements, your next order of business is to connect them to employee performance. Even the most powerful mission statements aren’t internalized by employees who simply read them in a handbook. As a business owner, your job is to make sure that your employees take ownership of your mission and vision. This is the definition of a team mentality, which is vital to any successful business, but especially to the event world, where organizational systems need to function almost perfectly.
How do you do this? The key is incentivization, and it works on multiple levels. For one thing, employees need to feel that their unique personalities, talents, and skill sets are valuable assets to your business. Event employees are generally passionate about their work. They don’t want to feel like they are merely working for your organization. They want to feel a sense of belonging to it, as if they are part of something greater than themselves. Therefore, mission and vision statements- especially vision statements- are powerful motivators for employees to do excellent work.
But that’s only true if you clearly define your employees’ specific job responsibilities- and the benefits they’ll gain from doing them well. When educating your employees on your mission and vision statements, consider factors such as these: Is there room for advancement for your employees? How does working hard to achieve your goals help them achieve their individual professional goals? Remember, it’s all about teamwork and giving back to each other.
When it comes to specific events, create contests in which the employees who drive the most ticket sales get a prize. The prizes should be tiered so that employees receive different rewards based on the number of sales they specifically drove. Take experiential marketing into consideration here; offering free products is great, but sometimes exclusive experiences are even more influential motivators.
With the recent explosive popularity of Instagram, we’ve seen many inclusive fashion brands hire event planners to promote their new clothing lines. (This is just one example; most types of businesses use social media to promote themselves these days). Anyway, there are many instances in which the team members who sold the most tickets or drove the most product sales get to model/talk about the product on Instagram. In this case, the visibility factor is the draw. Of course, this is an agreement that has to be made between the company throwing the event and the event planning business that is planning it. But it’s a prime example of how personally incentivizing your staff can motivate them to do their best work. This type of experiential incentivization really works well with events associated with the entertainment industry. Offering employees meet-and-greets and behind-the-scenes experiences with entertainers is often a strong motivator for people who work industry events.
Some other examples of experiential incentivization for event employees: The ability to use products that entertainers use and post it on the entertainment holds a certain “star quality” appeal for some people. Event planning businesses also frequently offer free VIP experiences to employees who drive the most sales.
Generally speaking, it can be a great idea to include employees in the decision-making process of planning your events- at least to a certain degree. Give your employees some control over the agenda, and they will feel like a valuable part of your event- not just a worker bee. To an expert event planner, this will sound like a no-brainer. But you should never treat your event staff like glorified gophers, nor should you think of them that way. Events are like well-oiled machines in which all systems are reliant on each other to function. Without each of your employees’ hard work, you would have a system fail, and the event would be a bust.
Should You Measure the Effectiveness of Your Mission Statement?
Yes, you should. But let us be clear: There is no specific numerical way to measure how well your mission/values statements are driving business. However, you can get a general idea by choosing one to three performance measures that track your progress in fulfilling the context of your statements. For example, an event planning business might measure their mission by looking closely at employee performance: Are ticket sales progressively increasing across many events? Do you have the same top performers all the time, or can your event success be attributed to teamwork across the board?
Event planning businesses can also measure the effectiveness of their mission and vision statements by looking at specific goals related to their statements. For example, if your business’s goal is to provide top-rated luxury wedding experiences to a diverse variety of couples in your city, how well are your employees helping achieve that goal?
Hopefully, this article has impressed upon you the importance of excellent mission and values statements- and how easy it is to create them. Now go make them the general framework for your success, and thank us later!
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