Being an only child, I've always been a bit "willful" -- yeah, we'll say "willful" -- when it comes to following directions. This should have come as no surprise to my parents, as my first word was "No." (Sorry, mom.)
My biggest beef as a child was being told to do something without understanding why I was being bossed around.
"Brush your teeth, Elizabeth."
"Because you need to keep your teeth clean."
"You want sparkling white, strong, and healthy teeth, right?"
"You'll have a beautiful smile. Don't you want a beautiful smile?"
"Elizabeth, please just be good for mommy and brush your teeth."
Sadly, not much has changed as I've transitioned from footie pajamas to the athleisure-wear I cling to so desperately as an adult. If someone wants me to invest my time and energy into something -- particularly at work -- I need to understand why.
But I am not unique in this regard. If your company has embraced inbound as a way of achieving digital sales and marketing success, you need to make sure you go out of your way to help your people understand the "why" behind your content marketing and why everyone needs to be involved.
You do this with a content mission statement.
A Content Mission Statement Is a Mindset
Before we talk about what a content mission statement is, why you need one, and how you’re going to create one for your company, you first need to change your mindset, and how you think about inbound and, more specifically, the purpose of your content.
If you want to see remarkable results with inbound, you and your team need to come together in the understanding that what you do with content goes far beyond simply marketing your products and services online with blog articles, videos, infographics, or podcasts.
As Marcus Sheridan talks about in They Ask, You Answer, you're stepping into the role of a teacher to your buyers. But not just any teacher — the best and most helpful teachers you can possibly be at what you do, both online and off.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “I see the difference, but is how we think about content that big of a deal?”
Yes, it absolutely is.
Because think about it -- how likely is it that you can get someone on your team to say, “I want to be the best inbound marketer in the world”? Not very likely.
But, what if we changed that to: “I want to be viewed as the best teacher and most trusted resource in our industry. I want people, when they have a problem, to think of our company”
We’d wager that’s a statement everyone in your company -- from marketing to sales, and all the way up to the C-suite -- can get behind.
That’s why the No. 1 mistake companies make with inbound is not understanding and adopting this subtle shift in mindset.
And it’s a costly one, too.
Those companies that fail to catch that vision of becoming those extraordinarily helpful teachers will see fewer members of their team saying, “Yes, I’m all in!” on inbound and creating content and, ultimately, will have fewer clients walk through their doors, as a result of those inbound efforts.
So, if you want your team not only to be bought-in on inbound but also wrap their arms fully around it, they’ve got to understand what it is that you’re doing and why.
And that’s where your content mission statement comes in.
What Is a Content Mission Statement?
Simply put, a content marketing statement is a single sentence that provides company-specific context to that idea of being the best teachers in a given area. In a way that is concise and easy to understand, it will tell someone the who, the what, and (often) the where.
Let’s say you’re an accounting firm that generally services the Washington, D.C., area.
Your content marketing statement, in this case, might be:
We want to be the premier source of accounting information for small business owners throughout the Washington, D.C., area.
In this content mission statement example, you’ve explained the who (small business owners), the where (the Washington, D.C., area), and the what (being the premier source of accounting information).
Or, let’s say you’re a water services and plumbing company that caters almost exclusively to locally-owned restaurants in and around San Francisco. Your content mission statement might be:
We want to be the foremost experts in water and plumbing for locally-owned San Francisco Bay Area restaurants.
Again, you’ve identified your who (local restaurants), the where (San Francisco), and the what (being the go-to experts for water and plumbing).
What You Need to Know to Create Your Content Mission Statement
Did you notice how we didn’t mention anything about marketing once in that example?
That’s by design.
The most effective and powerful content mission statements -- the ones that get everyone will get everyone declaring, “Yes, I want to be that teacher! Yes, I want to solve our customers' problems!” are written in such a way that they are immediately understood and easy to remember.
Meaning, no matter what someone’s role is within the organization, they should be able to read your content mission statement and, without hesitation or any need for clarification, get what it is that you’re trying to do and be able to recite it from memory.
So, to recap, your content mission statement needs to include:
Who you’re trying to help
How you’re going to help them
Where you’re helping them
Additionally, your content mission statement should be clear, concise, and easy to remember. Which means it should not include any marketing buzzwords or be too long.
"OK, What Do We Do with Our Content Mission Statement Now That We Have One?"
The answer to this question is simple -- socialize it, embrace it, reinforce it, and live it daily through the mindful creation of your digital sales and marketing content.
Your content mission statement is not something that should be printed out on a piece of paper and left somewhere in a drawer, never to be remembered again. You must consider it a guiding principle and a state of mind.
Add learning the content mission statement to your onboarding process. Print it out on a poster and hang it somewhere prominently. Remind your folks of it whenever you highlight content wins at company meetings.
No matter how you choose to keep your new content mission statement top-of-mind, your goal should empower your team to understand exactly what they are doing and why any time they create a blog article or video.