How just thinking about the core of its story changed this organization

I was talking with an organization recently about improving their efforts to reach and convert their prospects. It’s easy for these conversations to quickly dive down into the tactical. We start talking about everything from the website to the need for a more compelling Facebook posts. While these are all important things to address, trying to fix them all – all at once – can feel overwhelming. And as I felt the anxiety rising, I found myself backing away from all the tactical talk. Call it a self-preservation mechanism. I would go mad if I tried to generate answers for all the challenges that started to bubble up.

I didn’t want to talk about Facebook posts. I didn’t want to talk about social media strategy. I didn’t even want to talk about the broader engagement strategy. I found myself asking, “Why does this organization exist?

That changed the conversation a bit.


Getting to the core of the story

The organization had a mission. We looked at it up on their website. As with most mission statements, nobody could remember it exactly. That’s to be expected. Mission statements are inward focused (talking about what we as an organization will do). As such, they tend to be rather rational. And as a result, not very memorable. That doesn’t mean we don’t need mission statements. To the contrary. They provide important internal guidance. This organization’s mission statement was solid. It described what they were setting out to do. It just wasn’t all that inspiring.

Before we can fix a lackluster website or ineffective Facebook posts, we have to clarify that thing that will be the guiding force behind all our efforts. We need to understand that thing that will ignite the passions of our team members and catapult our prospects right past becoming our customers to becoming our advocates.

Beyond a mission, we need a purpose. This is the core of our story. It is the emotionally-charged idea that gives all those we hope to serve a compelling reason to care about us and what we are trying to accomplish.

As we started talking about the possibilities for this organization's purpose, you could feel the energy in the conversation surge. Moreover, something transformative started to happen. We started to imagine how clarifying that larger meaning could revolutionize everything from the website to those Facebook posts. We started to imagine how much more meaningful all our efforts could become.

This was even before we had that purpose identified. It's interesting that just the very idea of that core belief could ignite the conversation. But it makes sense. Articulating a purposeful core belief eradicates the uncertainty and vagueness that may be swirling around our story. Equally as powerful is what it creates – a launch pad for that story to take flight. On the website, in the Facebook posts, and beyond.

When our conversation ended, we did not magically have all the answers. But we knew where to start. It was at the core of our story.

Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at

PurposeDan Salva