How to Avoid Mission Drift (and How a Marketing Plan Can Help)

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4 min read

As a social enterprise leader, you know what your business stands for. But as a revenue-generating company, it can be difficult to avoid “mission drift,” or the deprioritization of your social goals in favor of commercial ones.

What can you do to ensure your mission doesn’t get lost in the demands of raising money or other competitive factors? As your company shifts and changes over the years, a strategic marketing plan can help you navigate tough decisions to ensure your mission is still at the forefront of everything you do.

Why does mission drift occur, and why is it important to avoid mission drift?

When you first start a social enterprise, achieving your mission and vision are likely your utmost priority. But as investors and other key stakeholders become more involved with your company, your core mission may eventually take a backseat. It’s common for a social enterprise’s priorities to shift from staying true to its original mission to being more competitive and profitable.

As an emerging social enterprise, “growth” and “scale” are probably some of the most common words in your vocabulary. Rapid growth is often a priority for new companies, but some growth opportunities don’t always lend well to your social mission. As discussed at a World Economic Forum, a focus on immediate or rapid growth means your company is focusing on the wrong thing—public perception of impact rather than actual impact.

The bottom line is, taking up a larger share of the market should not be your number one priority. When you begin to lose focus on your social impact, you’re actually losing more of what makes your company unique in the first place: your mission. Drifting from that mission impacts your ability to truly differentiate yourself from other services like yours on the market.

How can you avoid mission drift with a strategic marketing plan?

A strategic marketing plan ensures your mission drives all of your internal and external communications. In order to secure a prosperous future for your company, align your management team members’ and stakeholders’ interests as early as possible. Even if your social enterprise has been around for decades, it’s beneficial to take the time to re-align everyone’s priorities with a strategic marketing plan.

Your marketing plan can help your company avoid mission drift in the following ways:

1. Aligning your marketing goals with your business goals

A marketing plan helps you zero in the marketing goals and objectives that help you achieve your larger, strategic business goals. Those qualitative goals and quantitative objectives should serve as the ultimate destination in everything your company does from a marketing perspective.

As you execute your marketing plan, you can be confident knowing how your daily marketing work specifically relates to your long-term business goals as a mission-driven organization.

2. Developing key messages for different stakeholder groups

It’s critical that your internal and external stakeholders understand the value of your company’s mission to avoid mission drift in the future. That’s why you must identify messaging for each of your stakeholder groups. With a plan for how to communicate your mission to these groups, you won’t lose sight of that underlying motivation, even if you have other priorities, such as scalability, in mind.

3. Creating tactics that serve your mission

The right marketing tactics are designed to bring your mission to life, in front of the right audiences. Whether you’re educating, engaging or activating your audiences, each tactic and campaign should be directly related to your social enterprise’s core values. This way, you know that all of your marketing efforts are connected to your mission.

4. Measuring results of your impact

As your company grows, it can be easy to focus on vanity metrics like social media followers or web traffic that aren’t tied to a specific business goal. These numbers may indicate business growth, but they don’t provide insight on progress toward achieving your mission.

That’s why it’s important to align your marketing goals with your business goals from day one—to ensure everything you do has a measurable impact on your mission.

With a strategic marketing plan that’s aligned with your mission, you can measure both long-term social impact and commercial impact.

social enterprise marketing plan template
Whether you are in your first year of business or your company has been around for decades, a marketing plan will help your company avoid mission drift as it continues to evolve over time. Get started building yours with our social enterprise marketing plan template.

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