I have invited different experts to share their expertise with you for over one year on various topics. As we are getting closer to the end of the year and everyone starts (or should start) working on the next year’s strategy, I decided to share the methodology of creating a marketing strategy that will make sense to you, will be easy to implement and will fully represent your brand and message.

I firmly believe you have to create value to get value, which I did while developing the methodology. For over 17 years, I have been working in marketing, creating campaigns, strategies, launching products and services and engaging the audience with small and big companies. Each project and each client have their own characteristics, challenges and goals. However, at a closer look, you see a red thread running through them all: The difference between the ones that succeed and those that fail is a good marketing strategy.

It’s interesting to see that everyone faces the same challenge, no matter the company’s size. We all want to be the new kid on the block and come up with the best campaign, have the best product launch, or find the most engaging solution to communicate with our audience. But if all of the marketing elements are not working together to serve the company strategy, it will waste time, money and energy. And this is exactly what I see happening left and right.

So, when I decided to establish SPIN Ideas, I made it my mission to educate people on the importance of starting with a marketing strategy instead of just doing marketing activities. I dedicated all the time I was not spending working with clients to writing articles on the topic and speaking about it at events. I became an evangelist of the marketing strategy.

I observed the companies around me closely. Working with my clients, talking with startup and scaleup founders, discussing things with other marketers and entrepreneurs, and listening to industry experts, I started noticing patterns in companies’ stumbling blocks.

Every company wants to be different, but often they focus so much on differentiation that they forget who they are and why they started the company. They end up promoting products and services to everyone, across several platforms, without really looking into who their real clients are.

Marketers spend so much time and money on every new shiny idea that appears on the market that they forget what their objectives are. Campaigns that cost thousands of euros to create and implement fail to meet the audience’s needs and interests.

Does this sound familiar? Are you in a similar position? You can ask yourself the following questions (and be honest):

  • Are you still loyal to the company values and the reason you started the company?
  • Do you really know your clients? Who they are, which platforms are they active on, what type of content they consume and how often? Do you know how they make a decision and what influences that decision?
  • Do you have your yearly and monthly goals set up, and are you sticking to them?
  • Do you make sure all your marketing campaigns take the questions you just answered into consideration?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then congratulations! You’re doing an amazing job when it comes to marketing, and I’m sure you run a successful company.

If the answer to any of the questions is no, I invite you to allocate some time to look into it. Not sure where to start? Let me share with you the SPIN Methodology I developed, which will c

I must admit, when I established SPIN Ideas, I was not looking to create my own methodology or change anything in terms of how to approach marketing. But working day after day with different clients, while also working on my own strategy, I noticed that if we are very clear about some essential ingredients, we can’t go wrong.

Also, knowing what you are dealing with gives you more flexibility to play and create. You can see it as analogous to preparing a meal. As long as you have your basic ingredients, and they are of high quality, you can be creative and make many delicious dishes; your limit is your imagination. However, if one of the ingredients is missing or is of low quality, the dishes will lack either in taste or quality.

The SPIN Methodology is your cookbook, and it’s very simple and easy to follow. It consists of four steps:

Step 1: It is all about you!

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s exactly like in personal development or therapy: until you’re ok and clear on who you are, on your values, what you want to accomplish, what you stand for, and you can express that in writing, you will not be able to communicate it to the outside world. It is all about your company’s DNA.

This sounds like herculean work, but it’s actually very simple. Just take a piece of paper and write down the words you want to be used when clients describe your company and product or service. Once you have done the exercise, check whether you are using these words in your communication: website, social media, and descriptions of your products or services.

If you can’t find the words there, start adding them in. Help your prospects and clients understand who you are and what they can expect if they choose to work with you.

Step 2: How well do you know your customer?

Once you are very clear on who you are, it’s time to take a very close look at your clients and start creating their avatars. The word avatar means an incarnation, embodiment or manifestation of a person or idea. This is exactly what we want to create for our clients: We want to embody their characteristics, understand the way they think, their needs, likes and dislikes in order to communicate with them so they will listen.

When working on your clients’ avatars, besides the demographic data, you need to know:

  • Where you can find them online and offline
  • What spikes their interest in their professional life and private life
  • How much time and budget do they allocate to their hobbies, even if these hobbies have nothing to do with your product or service
  • What they are truly passionate about and how they spend their time
  • Who their friends are and how they spend their time together
  • What the deciding factors are when considering a product or service like yours
  • What their biggest challenges and pains are
  • How they go about solving their problems

The more you know about your clients, the easier it will be to create a marketing strategy that targets them. In fact, once you finish this exercise, your marketing strategy will become very clear.

Step 3: Setting goals

The majority of my clients, and companies in general, tend to forget about this step. Even if they do set up annual goals, they forget to go back to them during the year and work towards them. Some may look back at their goals at the end of the year to see if they have achieved them. Only a handful are truly working towards their goals.

The main reason this is happening is that we are living in an abundance of information and innovation, and we are always looking for the next “shiny thing” to try. We see a competitor doing something that works, and we jump on the bandwagon to copy-paste their recipe for success.

However, this may turn out to be a recipe for disaster, because the “shiny thing” is not in line with who you are or what your clients believe, and instead of attracting them, you end up sending them away. Your goals always need to follow your and your client's values.

When setting up goals, I always follow the SMART criteria. In case you are not familiar with it, SMART stands for*:

  • Specific — target a specific area for improvement
  • Measurable — quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress
  • Assignable — specify who will do it
  • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources
  • Time-related — specify when the result(s) can be achieved

Many companies set up goals with a focus on vanity metrics, such as more visits to the website or more subscribers to the newsletter. However, you should focus on goals that can be easily translated into actionable metrics.

For example, instead of saying “I want more clients,” set an exact number — make it specific and measurable. Let’s say you want to increase your sales by 10 percent (include the exact target), and you know that if you host a webinar, you get 50 leads, of which 10 become clients. That gives you quite a lot of information on what you need to do and how to plan your marketing activities.

Every single marketing activity that you will implement needs to serve the goals you set up. And if a “shiny thing” comes your way, just ask yourself: does this help me achieve my goals? If the answer is yes, you can go ahead and try it. But if the answer is no, just move away.

Step 4: Connecting the dots

Now that you have the main ingredients, you can start cooking. This part is all about connecting the dots from the previous three steps.

In step 1, you identified your style and what makes you unique. These discoveries have a direct influence on the marketing tactics you will use, as well as on the partners you want to work with. You want to collaborate with organizations that share the same values as you do. Step 2 helped you understand your clients, including where to reach them, so told you what marketing tools to use. And step 3 gave you the direction you’re heading in. Now you need to start connecting these things.

This step is the most complex, but it’s actually the easiest. You have already done the hard work, and if you do this step properly, you will notice how the elements connect.

The avatars will tell you what type of content you should create, where to publish it, how often and what organizations you should partner with. Remember: everyone has access to the same marketing tools, it’s just a matter of putting your own stamp on them (step 1).

Once you define the tools you will use — content, social media, strategic partners, videos, events — it’s just a matter of creating the marketing planning. There are a lot of good marketing calendars and planners to help you with this; choose the one that works best for you. Have a look at the one we created for inspiration — we tried to think about every marketing tool you may need, so you have everything in one place.

Don’t be afraid to change things during this step if you see the results are not there. Marketing is not a fixed science. It’s all about people and what they want, and this changes quite often, depending on several factors. So you always need to experiment, implement and analyze to see what works best.

For me, marketing is about having fun, being creative and working with and for people.

This article is written by Veronica Guguian from Spin Ideas. If you want to know more about me, follow me on social media!