We have probably all come across the four P’s of marketing – product, promotion, place and price – at one time or another, but did you know that these can apply equally to marketing yourself as to marketing products and services? Today’s post is a paraphrased extract from my book, Company YOU!, in which I cover what branding is all about and how you can create a personal brand for yourself which will have employers clamoring for your services…
The rules of marketing, and of branding, apply equally to Coca-Cola, Apple’s computers and YOU! You cannot hope to keep abreast of the competition, let alone get ahead of it, unless you know what employers want, what your strengths are, and how to communicate your uniqueness in the job market arena. Many of the same marketing principles which are used by everything from small businesses to large corporations translate neatly over into the career field and so can be directly applied.
Let us look first of all at the 4 Ps of marketing, the four factors in your job search over which you have control – product, promotion, price and place – and see how these relate.
In terms of your job search, YOU are the product. In the same way that companies need to consider which features to incorporate into their products, so you need to look at which of your own skills, characteristics and features are most important in your job search. Like these companies, you also need to look at this from the customer’s perspective. What would be important to a prospective employer?
The other thing to think about in terms of YOU the product is your packaging. The most obvious aspect of this is your personal appearance and how you dress. Whether we like it or not, we are judged on the way we look and so it is important to maintain a smart and professional image. The other aspect of the packaging element is your portfolio and what it contains. We will look at this more closely in a moment, when we consider how to go about developing your own personal brand.
Promotion is about communicating the benefits of YOU to a prospective employer. When companies consider the promotion of their products, they have to think in terms of advertising, PR and sales staff, but what are your promotional tools?
Basically, your promotional toolkit should contain anything that you can use to get a job interview and sell yourself, and the two most vital components are your resume(s) and cover letters. These are not the only things that should be included, however. Interviews themselves are a form of promotion, as are the telephone calls that you make, the e-mails that you send and the websites and blogs that you maintain.
Just as companies need to consider their distribution channels to get their products to market, so you have to think about who or what is going to help to distribute YOU to the employer. This includes all the methods that you intend using to distribute your promotional tools, such as:
· Job postings and advertisements
· Networking – online and offline
· Online job searching
· College/ university career centers
· Employment agencies/executive search firms
What is really important here is to identify which is the most important distribution channel.
There is no point in spending 80-90% of your time on distribution channels in the ‘visible’ market when
80-90% of the opportunities are in the ‘hidden’ sector
Nobody would assert that a comprehensive and effective job search campaign should be limited to the employment of only one method. HOWEVER…
Choosing the wrong distribution channel in this day and age could be tantamount to committing career suicide!
Traditional means of job-hunting are, for the most part, no longer relevant in today’s society. The only viable way to open yourself up to the greatest level of opportunity is via networking and it is for this reason that Part Two of Company YOU! is devoted entirely to this particular channel.
The last of the 4 Ps of marketing is price, which for jobseekers means more than just the basic salary that you hope to achieve. When you consider remuneration from employment, you should take into account the whole package, including the following:
· Medical, dental and optical insurances, life insurance and accidental death and disability insurances
· Salary increases, bonuses and overtime pay
· The number of vacation days, paid holidays, sick and personal days
· Pension and 401(k) plans
· Profit sharing and stock options
· Reimbursement of tuition fees
· Health club membership fees
· Reimbursement for the care of dependents
· Employee assistance programs
· The reimbursement of parking and commuting expenses
The price element also includes the strategies to get the price that you want, and that the employer thinks you are worth, as well as when to talk about salary and how much to ask for.
All of the 4 Ps of marketing are important as part of any successful job search, but the power of branding, career branding, is the most significant factor of all. Just look at the power of brands like Mercedes-Benz and Laura Ashley.
Branding is your answer to how you can be more sought after than the competition
Branding is how you differentiate yourself from the other ‘products’ out there. It is your promise to the employer that you are better than anyone else, and it is a promise on which you must deliver in order for your brand to be successful. Remember, brands must deliver consistently in order that the bond with the customer is not broken.
Branding is vital in advancing your career because it helps to define who you are, what you are good at and why employers should be queuing up for your services. Essentially, it is about building a name for yourself, showcasing what sets you apart from others and describing the added value that you can bring to employers. Your brand is your reputation and your credibility.