If you are anything like me then you let out a giant yawn whenever a marketing blog says that you need to write a mission statement for your business.
Even the idea of writing this statement sounds mind-numbingly boring – so how can you possibly produce something that won’t send all of your potential customers immediately to sleep as well? How can you define what you want your business to achieve, and in such a way that you can craft a brand identity and a marketing plan from this statement, without boring everyone in the process?
Especially in personal and life-changing industries like yours, using something like a mission or vision statement isn’t really enough.
There is so much of who you are in your work that it becomes an extension of you. Mission or vision statements are the what and how of your business – but you need to work out your WHY.
Declare your Manifesto Instead!
Your manifesto is so much more than the mission or vision of your business – it is what your mission and vision are based on. It will define the heart and soul of your business, and should be meaningful to you – this meaning will then connect with your customers.
Ivana Taylor who writes for DIY Marketers said it beautifully;
“The manifesto is your foundation. It is a set of beliefs you hold so deeply that they can’t help but guide you. Your manifesto informs the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the trails you blaze. A manifesto is a way of life.”
It is the purpose, beliefs, views, and values of your business. It is your foundation, your guide, and your path. It is how your business is going to change the world.
Your manifesto sets out your basic beliefs for yourself and your business together. Your manifesto flows easily because it doesn’t aim to separate you from your business.
It is more than what you promise your customers and more than your definition of how you can help them, or why you are different. A manifesto is something that should speak to your customers if they were to read it (which is why many companies make them available to the public to connect with).
Your customers should be excited and inspired by your manifesto, whereas if they read your mission statement, they would be unlikely to be moved.
It should evoke an emotional reaction in the right audience. They should look at it and shout ‘Yes! Me too!’
Athletic brand lululemon has a great manifesto which they represent visually in graphic form. Having the image to refer to means that they can be constantly reminded of why they are here – and the effects of the manifesto continue to shine through in their work every day.
For this brand, their manifesto is “one way we share our culture with the community. It’s an evolving collection of bold thoughts that allow for some real conversations to take place.” (https://info.lululemon.com/about/our-story/manifesto)
This definition of a manifesto is pretty much perfect – it is how you share the who and why of your business with your community, and it is a continually evolving concept.
Defining Your Manifesto – Taking a Deep Dive into Who You Are
Defining your business manifesto can sometimes be a bit challenging, because it can require taking a deep dive into you are. Why do you do this business? What does this business mean for you?
The right branding isn’t just about making money, it is about doing what you love every day. If you don’t put yourself into what you do (that is, if you invent a brand to please the customers but that doesn’t feel right for you) then you won’t succeed at your business or be able to maintain it long term.
Once upon a time, businesses were respected for being slick, polished and professional, but they ended up becoming faceless and soulless beings.
You are the face and soul of your brand – so put this into your manifesto. Defining your business purpose helps you to attract the ideal customer, and it also makes sure that your personality shines through in every aspect of what you do.
How much of YOU is in your visual brand?
Especially in industries such as yours, there is likely to be a certain amount of YOU in your business. A wonderful way to connect with clients is to figure out how to represent yourself in your visual brand.
This can be a tricky thing to work out, and sometimes a hard thing to balance, but once you find this the alignment between yourself and your brand makes it much easier to engage your target audience.
When you get this alignment right, and you can pepper aspects of your personality through your branding, it helps your customers get to know you even before they meet you.
This is essential for developing a relationship of trust, and for standing apart from others in your industry. It is incredibly important if the majority of your customers come through digital platforms.
Guidelines for Declaring your Manifesto
Here are some guidelines (because there are no rules when it comes to declaring your manifesto!)
Connect with your Mindset
Succeeding in your own business is more about having the right mindset than it is about having the right skills. Your work needs to connect with what drives you and what makes you happy. Any skills or knowledge that you are lacking you can either undertake some extra training to acquire, or just outsource to someone else. But mindset you need to get right, and it has to come from you.
Your goal is to communicate your point of difference as authentically as possible. Be clear and aim to connect with your customers on a human level. We are more likely to buy from brands that feel honest and genuine.
When you are genuine in your branding you become more relatable and accessible to your customers. You also feel more authentic in your business and what you are putting out into the world every day – making you naturally better at what you do.
Why do you help people find themselves?
People turn to you to help them find themselves – so figuring out how you do this can be a wonderful point of difference. Why do you help people find themselves – why do you love what you do?
How is your business going to change the world? How will it change your life, and the lives of the people that come into contact with it?
Think about Change and Development
Your manifesto should include what you want when your business starts up, but also cover how you want it to develop and grow.
Aim for at least 5 Points
There are no rules about how long or short a manifesto should be, but if you need a guide, you should aim for at least 5 points that represent your core values and beliefs in your business. It needs to be thorough enough to cover everything you want to say, yet still short enough to be emotionally powerful.
Focus on the Positives
Your manifesto should ideally be written in positive terms – it should be how you are going to change the world and each person’s life, it shouldn’t be a definition of what you don’t what your business to do.
Defining Your Manifesto – How Do You Start?
You can find your manifesto by asking yourself questions like:
- What do you want to put out into the world?
- What do you want your business to stand for?
- What do you believe in?
- What matters most to you?
- What do you want your business to be known for?
- How does your business change your life?
- How does your business change the lives of customers?
From there you can also define your vision, which is where you want your business to go, and your mission statement, which is how you are going to get there.
I find with my clients that their manifesto is the beginning, and everything else will flow from this. With a vivid picture of their manifesto, it becomes much easier to develop a logo, taglines, business message, your business voice and personality, marketing strategy and so much more.
Don’t let the idea of defining your manifesto become overwhelming – this shouldn’t be terrifying! You don’t have to approach it by trying to write thought-provoking bold statements like lululemon’s that will inspire everybody the instant they see them.
Start by putting down what inspires you about your business. Jot down some words, sentences, and images that connect with you. Do this on paper if you work better that way, or use an app like Pinterest and Notes to help you collect your thoughts.
And in the same way that everything that your manifesto is built on didn’t happen overnight, neither will writing your manifesto. You may need to make some notes and then walk away from it, and come back to work on it again another time.
You may also need to chat to friends and family about it, as well as previous and even potential customers. Asking a copywriter to help you refine it and someone like me to make the visuals match the impact you want it to create. But essentially other people can only help you to put into words what is coming from inside you – you shouldn’t be getting the basis of your manifesto from anywhere else but within yourself.