Mission, Vision, Values, Guiding Principles, Oh My!
Do you know the difference?
There's a bit of an alphabet soup going on when we talk about some of the statements that an organization must have in place to get all employees marching to the same beat. You need a mission statement, vision statements, core values, guiding principles, brand promise, purpose, and more, right?! Are these important? Yes. Is it detrimental if we don't have them? Maybe. Would it be common sense to take the time to develop and communicate them? Yes. If you want to be in business, you (and your employees) probably ought to know why and what you're trying to do.
Bain wraps up all of these various statements into a nice little package - because they are intertwined and support each other - with the following:
- A Mission Statement defines the company's business, its objectives, and its approach to reach those objectives.
- A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company.
- Elements of Mission and Vision Statements are often combined to provide a statement of the company's purposes, goals, and values.
The mission statement describes the business you are in, i.e., what you're doing and who you're serving, while the vision statement defines where the company wants to go in the future. By the way, I love this tip from bplans about mission statements (link also includes great examples of mission statements)...
To test the value of a draft of your mission statement, take a step back and ask yourself whether or not the same words could apply to any other business; and whether anybody could identify your business from hearing your mission statement.
... although, I must say, after reading the examples, I don't think this is a hard-and-fast rule. Many of the statements could apply to any of the companies' competitors.
An inspirational and aspirational statement, your corporate vision not only outlines what the company is trying to achieve near-term and long-term but also guides decision-making processes and your subsequent, resultant course of action. It will answer the question, "Where do you see the company in five years? or in ten years?"
Your customer experience vision will also be inspirational and aspirational and will outline what you see as the future state of the customer experience. It will briefly describe the experience you plan to deliver. And it will serve as a guide to help choose future courses of action. It should align with your corporate vision, or they may be one and the same.
Core values are the fundamental beliefs of the organization; they really describe or define the culture. Core values are broad statements that guide your employees, identifying right and wrong, good and bad, and how to interact with each other and with customers.
Guiding principles, on the other hand, are more specific in how they guide the organization through everything it does. They are more prescriptive in nature. There's often confusion between values and principles: aren't they the same? In a way, yes; they get the same message across but in a different way. Principles are objective "truths" or "laws," while values are subjective and provide a sense of direction.
The company's purpose is its reason for being, the why. It's typically stated in such a way that helps employees understand who the business is trying to impact and in what way. Employees are inspired when they know they are doing something for the good of something or someone else. Define the who and the what, and you've got your why.
Your brand promise is the expectation you set with your customers; in essence, it's a promise you make to your customers about the experience and the benefit they can expect from engaging with your brand. Everything you and your employees do should reflect this promise. It’s a combination of the brand purpose and the reality of what the brand can deliver. In most cases, it defines the benefits a customer can expect to receive when experiencing your brand at every touch point.
Hope that's helpful. Here's the thing with each of these: it's not enough to just define them. They must be communicated and understood; employees then need to live and breath them and refer to them every day.
Solving Your Biggest Client Issue May Be at Your Fingertips
Written by: Shileen Weber
When the American Funds’ Capital Group asked 400 advisors last year to name the biggest issues they face in their businesses, it wasn’t the DOL, market uncertainty or the economy that sat in the center of the idea cloud of answers.
It was client issues.
At a time when regulatory concerns and market turbulence would seem to be at all-time highs, the advisors who answered the survey were most concerned about servicing their clients as well as ways to find new ones and grow their businesses.
It’s one of the ironies of the business, that the things most people find so hard to manage – creating financial plans, managing assets and staying ahead of events – are what advisors find to be the easiest parts of the business. Marketing - the business of selling themselves – can be the area advisors find the hardest elements to master.
In this age of instant communication, it can be even more intimidating to market your practice, especially to younger clients for whom many traditional methods like newsletters, postcards and phone calls don’t work anymore. For them, email is the preferred way to get information, and, if it’s important, they are more likely to respond to texts, not phone calls.
But, it doesn’t have to be that hard. The digital age gives you access to ideas and content of all kinds you can use to touch your clients in a way that positions you as a valuable resource. The key is to keep it simple, stick to some basics and create consistent outreach that clients and potential clients are interested in and will appreciate you sharing with them.
Here is a common-sense approach you can take that will not require you to hire an expensive agency or take valuable time away from managing your clients’ assets and running your business.
Content is King
Create a content calendar for the year: Think about reasons to touch a client 13 times during the year – that can be once a month and on their birthday. (The common rule of sales is that it takes at least 7-13 touches to make a connection.) The number is limited and keeps you from inundating the clients who likely already feel inundated with content. You can take the seasonal approach – tax planning in the fall, January for account review content, college financing in the spring – and supplement it with topical events during the year. Creating a calendar will help you stick to a plan. Here’s one resource for a content calendar.
Review what content is already available to you: Basically, this means finding the resources you already have and determining what pieces will be most valuable to your clients. Start first by checking out content your broker-dealer already generates that you can personalize. Many firms have economists who write regularly about the market. That’s content you can pass along to keep clients up-to-date they would not have access to anywhere else. In addition to your broker-dealer, mutual funds, your clearing firm, and money managers are all excellent sources of informative and even analytical content.
Personalize the content you use: Add your name, the client’s name or some way to avoid making it feel like canned content that you are using just to check the outreach box. See what capabilities your email program may have to help you.
The birthday strategy: One advisor used clients’ birthdays in a new way. Instead of the card or lunch date, the advisor asked the client’s spouse for a list of friends he could invite to a birthday lunch and made it a memorable event that was also a soft approach to getting referrals.
Become a curator of good content: What your review will show you is that you don’t have to generate the content yourself. You can point clients to pieces you find insightful. You are likely already doing this every day just to keep yourself informed. The next step is to compile it and send out the very best pieces to your clients, again, with a note with your own thoughts about why you found it valuable.
Find out what is working and do more of it: Use your client interactions, in-person and online, to find out what types of content clients liked and any they didn’t. You can use tracking on your emails to see how many were opened as a measurement tool, but the personal interactions tend to provide more insight than raw data.
Be disciplined about your execution: Get help from an office assistant or schedule the time each month to do the content development and outreach. As any good strategy, if you make it a habit, it won’t seem so hard.
Most importantly, be yourself and be personal: You may want to regularly get personal by talking about your family and hobbies. The ultimate is if you can provide content that is personal to your clients, not just about their investments – they get that from their statements, apps and online portals. Think alma maters, hobbies, children and parents.
Of course, as a disclaimer, you have to make sure all content and communications are complying with regulations and the rules of your own broker-dealer.
The process of creating a plan will get you thinking about your clients in a new way. That exercise alone can re-energize your business and get you seeing marketing opportunities in places you may never have seen them before.
Shileen Weber is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at GWG Holdings. She was previously Director of Online Strategy and Client Experience at RBC Wealth Management, where they placed first in two JD Power and Associates U.S. Full Service Investor Satisfaction Study (2011 and 2013).
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