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, which will help you tackle this challenge we call a marketing strategy.
You can see the creation of a marketing strategy 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 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 clients’ 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
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 in order to see what works best.
For us, marketing is about having fun, being creative and working with and for people.
If you want more information or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send an email to our partner SPIN Ideas. SPIN Ideas is a marketing strategy and media agency focused on changemakers with a purpose. Their team helps startups, scaleups and corporates to grow their business sustainably, with a strong focus on marketing strategy, strategic partnerships and creating the right business connections. They open their network to help you succeed. Check out their website for more information. They are happy to help.