10 Marketing Lessons From Sara Blakely

Learn to trust your gut, differentiate yourself, embrace failure, plan, and more

Allegue Wessim
Jan 31 · 5 min read
Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geteverwise/15642187279

She is an American businesswoman and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Spanx, Inc., an apparel company that focuses on pants and leggings. The billionaire built an empire around a brand that keeps growing steadily.

She is Sara Blakely and here are ten marketing lessons you could learn from her.

1. Trust your gut

The founder of Spanx, Inc. stated that there is no such thing as a bad idea.

Sara worked quietly for years over her concept of revolutionizing the apparel industry. But she received many denials when she pitched her ideas to manufacturers and investors. This didn´t stop her from continuing to work on her concept until one day she got her first partner when his daughters told him that they liked this original idea

At a Women Leadership Exchange event, she spoke about an anecdote of hers. One day a professor from Florida State University told her that they’ll prove to her that no bad ideas are using only four words: Teenage, mutant, ninja, turtles.

She then proceeded to do the same with Spanx, Inc. by creating footless pantyhose.

No matter how absurd your idea might look, if you truly believe in it continue working on it and wait for the perfect opportunity.

2. Differentiate yourself

Any modern brand or product should have something unique about it that you should easily be able to communicate.

Work on your MVP rigorously to differentiate yourself from the other brands in your industry

The billionaire said that you should be able to tell your mirror or others in 30 seconds why you’re different and the benefit for your customers.

Hers was: we create footless pantyhose

Sara saw a need in the apparel industry and made sure to create a product that will resolve these problems.

3. Embrace failure

In more ways than one, Sara praised her father for allowing her to fail.

Creativity and especially innovation come from repeated failures and you should never be ashamed of yours.

The entrepreneur insisted on many interviews that without all her failures in product design and marketing she would have never reached this point.

4. Plan and set up goals

If you want your marketing plan to succeed, you must organize your campaigns and set up reachable goals.

It may vary from one person to another but make sure to have at least a plan for one to three months of your upcoming actions.

Sarah Blakely is an interesting case because she deals with the different part of her company on various days, for example:

  • Monday: Accountability
  • Tuesday: Legal
  • Wednesday: Marketing

and so on…

Now, this is not a perfect model, but it allows her to give undivided attention to the different parts of SPANX.

To summarize, find the perfect rhythm that suits your character and workflow and challenge yourself a little bit

5. Be honest

I think that customers need to be talked to not talked at. Authenticity is attractive.

While most people prefer communicating a beautiful image of a perfect brand, Sarah chose to stay true to herself. She invited people to see her flaws and journey, which resulted in creating a long-lasting customer base that believed in her values.

Her clients loved to see her battle from her tiny apartment, evolve and finally become this huge global brand.


You may fool most of the people when you’re pretending to be bigger than you are but not the ones that you aim to collaborate with.

Be as honest as you can with your audience and focus on communicating your truth.

6. Embrace not knowing

Sometimes you don’t have the information or skills to complete a task on your own and that’s normal.

The businesswoman said that if you’re dealing with something you don’t know but are trying to understand, you’re predestined to be disruptive. Don’t be afraid to embrace not knowing and to try to learn. This can become your greatest asset.

For example, Sara is not the CEO of SPANX as she prefers dedicating her time towards ideation and growth plans.

7. Optimize

Mrs. Blakely was previously a stand-up comedian, which she affirms helped her a lot in delivering funny and memorable messaging and marketing. She preached as well as the importance of choc value.

Another point she insists on is listening to your customer’s feedback. The entrepreneur ensures that this is a gold mine that only a few are exploiting.

When you execute a marketing campaign, document the results in as much detail as possible. This will allow to assess your actions and to optimize them in the future.

8. Delegate

If you’re a control freak like me, you’ll find this one hard.

To succeed we need to learn to work as a team and use each other’s strengths.

For example, if your forte is writing, search for someone with great video production skills.

Sara did the same with almost every aspect that wasn´t her specialty as she made fun of herself struggling throughout with legal matters.

9. Think outside of the box

When Sara was asked how she got in contact with Goldman Sachs, she replied simply:

The way it always has been done isn’t necessarily the way it should be done and often what’s inside of you is a better way to go about it.

Take some risks you believe in.

10. Think big

Spanx wouldn´t be at this point if Sara Blakely only thought small. Her plan is as she says: To put a Spanx apparel on every butt no matter the gender or the region.

Now we are seeing the company participate in men and sport events

Spanx for men

If you had every tool at your disposition, what would be the dream scenario for your business?

Always plan the next move and think about how you could transcend the barriers that are holding you from entering a new market.

Thinking big will minimize your losses and will make you focus on the bigger picture.

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

Allegue Wessim

Written by

28 y/o dude🇹🇳Documenting my journey to create the biggest artistic collaboration platform 🙌

Better Marketing

Advice & case studies

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