Your Personal Marketing Plan Post Series
Section 1: Situational Analysis – A detailed description of exactly where you are in your life, as well as your mission, vision and life cycle.
Section 2: Audience Analysis – Researching what the market is for your brand, with both primary and secondary research and quantitative and qualitative measurements.
Section 3 is focused on your competition. After recognizing who your audience is, their needs and what you can deliver, you need to assess who else is there to provide a similar or relevant service. For instance, when it comes to technology, you have Robert Scoble, Om Malik and Mike Arrington fighting it out over who owns the greatest share of the technology “geek” audience. If you’re a doctor, lawyer or dentist, you will be most likely be competing based on location, reputation and word-of-mouth referrals. If you’re a high school student, you will be competing for college placement and if you’re in college, you will be competing for entry-level positions. Competition is a group of people who are looking for the exactly same thing you are and are going through a similar process to gain an opportunity and strip you of one (rarely intentionally). Organizations and colleges are competitive boot camps, as they prepare you for your next opportunity, while the path to entry can be ruthless.
There is a major difference between a competitive analysis businesses use versus individuals. When performing a competitive analysis for a business, you would examine the top 5-10 competitors in your niche and write down their product names, prices, differentiation and features. When combating individuals, things are quite different. You can’t Google your competition before a job interview or while you go through the college admissions process.
It’s nearly impossible to know exactly who you’re competing with for a job or when applying for colleges. Before applying to colleges, high school advisers or career centers will share with you average SAT scores, as well as the average GPA and genetic makeup of the previous freshman class per each college you’re interested in. It’s a way to prepare you and narrow down your search. Instead of applying to 20 schools, you’re applying to a safety, reach and a few one’s in your ballpark. There is no guarantee of acceptance, but if you have a 1100 on your SAT and a 3.2 GPA, you probably won’t get into Harvard (unless you buy a building or your dad is on the board of directors). Some corporations have high expectations for candidates and lay down the law. They may expect 3.0 GPA’s, but tend to be more focused on the quality of a person from a best-fit standpoint. When interviewing, you are never revealed your competition. It’s like a game of Poker, where the employer isn’t showing you his hand.
Personal branding is important when applying for a job because you don’t know exactly who you’re up against and if you’re differentiated and networked from the start, it won’t matter!
Competition becomes more tangible when you’re blogging. There are hundreds of websites that monitor and rank blogs according to Technorati authority, Google PageRank, subscriber count, number of hits per day and user ratings. When you see blogs that are rated higher than yours, you may analyze their site to see why they are so successful and either evolve your branding strategy or take notes on best practices that you can implement. When you’re an entrepreneur or working for a business, it’s far easier to grasp who your competition is and when you do, you can pull that information and view the similarities and differences between them and your operation.
The Perceptual Map
When I do marketing plans, I like to arrange my client’s business, as well as the top competitors on a perceptual map. The map works like graph, with a Y and X axis. You pick two attributes, such as price and features and put them at opposite ends, such that you’re using “high” and “low” price, as well as “many” and “few”features. Now you want to position where you are relative to competitors in your space along these attributes. For instance, if you’re personal brand has great communication skills but poor analytical skills, you’re competition might have either the reverse, neither or both great skills. I blogged about this last December if you’re interested in learning more.
Closing Statement: By branding yourself you make the competition irrelevant!