By Tim Williams

By Tim Williams

Your purpose is the agency’s reason for being. Don’t confuse purpose with the typical weak, soggy “mission statements” that hang unnoticed in the lobbies of countless companies across America. Most mission statements are a mélange of hyperbole that is neither unique nor motivating. How motivated would you be by meaningless “mission statements” like these?

“To be an integrated marketing communications firm providing our client’s brand with strategic marketing insights, strategic marketing planning and strategic creative solutions.”
“To be the agency of choice, recognized as a leader in marketing, driven by creativity, measurable results and community service.”
“To help make clients successful by generating results through effective advertising, public relations and related marketing communications.”
Is it any wonder why nobody reads or cares about the company mission statement? It hangs in the lobby in an aluminum frame like a historical relic instead of a living document.

Any guesses as to the most commonly used words in agency mission statements? How about “creative” and “results.” When words like these get overused, they completely lose their meaning. Not to mention the fact that they provide absolutely no point of distinction.

What’s really needed in place of the tired mission statement is to discover a strong sense of purpose — the thing that makes you and your associates come to work every morning. The notable agencies have an ambitious reason for being. They have a purpose that goes beyond drawing a paycheck.

Consider what your purpose would be if you were leading a movement rather than a business. Movements are about meaning, not commercialism. Movements are about making a difference in the world. They intrinsically motivate people to action. They are filled with a sense of purpose.

A strong purpose makes the agency feel as if it’s engaged in something that’s honorable, almost a holy crusade. This creates not just a company of workers, but a company of believers.

If you work for Crispin Porter + Bogusky, you know that your company’s purpose isn’t to create ads. It’s to become a catalyst in changing popular culture. That’s a pretty motivating reason to come to work every day.

Defining your sense of purpose is a liberating process. But it takes some dedication. It’s an off-site exercise, requiring the full attention and best intentions of your senior staff. Get a good outside facilitator to help you plumb the depths of your organization to begin to answer questions like:

1. Besides making money, why did we get into this business in the first place?

2. What is the meaning in what we do? Can we serve a higher purpose than just providing a paycheck to our employees?

3. What kind of contribution or difference can we make in our business and in the world?

How do you know you’ve reached deep enough to find your purpose? The acid test is that you find it inspiring and motivating.

Remember, the truly outstanding agencies are not just trying to create advertising, but in some small way change the world.