Organizations can set objectives but they often bear little resemblance to actual forecasts. The exercise then needs to be carried out to compare the overall corporate objective (where do we want to be – e.g. sales increase of 40 per cent) against the sum of the expectations of performance from individual business units (where are we now). A comparison of the overall objective and operational performance will usually lead to a performance gap, which is examined by gap analysis.

The answer to the discovery of a gap is either to revise the overall objective or to change the strategy at business level.

Mission statement

‘Any marketing plan, strategy, program or decision naturally must be consistent with the overall marketing strategy of the firm as expressed in the corporate mission statement and by senior management’ Dickson, Marketing Management, 1997

‘achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning his safely to earth’ mission given to NASA by President Kennedy in the early 1960s

The mission defines the aims of the company and guides its progress, and is the first stage of the strategic planning process. It should contain the following elements:

Strategic intent

Where does the company want to be in the future?

Market definition

What target markets will the company aim at?

Competitive position

How will the company position itself and what benefits will it offer to the consumer?

Distinctive competences

What core skills will the company maintain and develop? What technologies will the firm deploy? Will the company go digital or remain traditional in their methods?

Company values

What guiding principles will be employed by the company? What values and beliefs does the firm hold – these could apply to staff, customers and society in general.

Peter Drucker asked the following questions, which would be answered by the mission statement:

  • What is our business?
  • Who is the customer?
  • What is value to the customer?
  • What will be our business?
  • What should our business be?

The audience for the mission statement can include customers, staff, shareholders and a variety of other stakeholders.

Successful mission statements will have the following characteristics:

  • Credibility with stakeholders
  • Unique to organization
  • Embrace specific capabilities of the organization
  • Will be aspirational to individuals, providing a shared sense of purpose