Market Yourself photo from ShutterstockMarketing, by definition, is creating a positive environment for exchange. It could be exchange of goods and services. Yet, in today’s economy, it also includes the exchange of human resources for financial resources.

Viewing yourself as the product that you are marketing, might help you in wrapping your mind around the power and the necessity for personal branding. You could be transitioning to another position and look for positive exchange with a potential employer; it could be you as a referral partner looking for a positive exchange with someone who services the same target client that you do in a non-competitive industry; or it could be you developing the foundation of your expertise looking for advisers to your personal board.

 Let’s look at your personal brand with you as the product

Product: What’s your deliverable?  How do you benefit people? What makes you so unique that if you were in a room with 250 of your competitors or colleagues that you would stand head and shoulders above the rest of them? What is your unique promise of value? And, how do you address the question that is on anyone’s mind that you are looking to exchange time or talent with – “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)”? As the product and professional at what you do, how you benefit people and who you are, it is your job to connect the dots for others so that they immediately know what you can do for them. Product development is key to an effective marketing strategy. A poor product that is positioned well will see a short success moment because the foundation is not congruent with what the product actually delivers.

Price:  When thinking of price, it’s not just salary, it’s the cost of doing business with you.  Does it take tremendous time to connect with you?  Are you accessible and in the geographic area? Are there things that a potential contact would have to overlook that would involve an investment of time and/or treasure on their part?

Place: These days, place is more than being in the geographic area, it is also timing.  It also means do you have a presence where the people that you want to exchange with spend a majority of their time.  Just like a store front that must research in depth this location, location, location question – so must you.  If you’re looking for a position with a certain industry, where do the industry “movers and shakers” (in great quantity) spend time?  Is it in a social service organization like Rotary?  Or, are they at an industry based association? Research where to find them and be where they are so that you are fully immersed in the place that they feel comfortable associating with others.

Promotion: Does the way you promote yourself honor your personal brand?  If it doesn’t feel right, it might work for someone else but it might not be a good fit for you. When someone else, just learning of you, experiences that disconnect caused by positioning that’s not congruent with the product, they will tend to shy away from you and often advise others to do the same. Word of Mouth is the most powerful form of advertising.  In fact, 92% of people, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, make purchases because of a word of mouth recommendation. Yet, word of mouth is also a double-edge sword. Are you positively buzz-worthy?

The fifth P is one that is new to the mix and I learned of it from @BPrickett during this past week’s #brandchat conversation on Twitter.  The fifth P is Participation.

  No longer do brands see great success from merely blasting out promotional messages or broadcasts (which by definition is to cast out a large message to a broad audience) their benefits.  Brands now require participation.

According to Unilever’s Chief Marketing Officer – Simon Clift (in a recent Advertising Age article), “Brands are now becoming conversation factors where… key opinion formers discuss functional, emotional and social concerns.  The conversation is no longer one way.”  He goes on to say that “listening to consumers is more important than talking at them.” 

Are you and your brand engaged in the conversation?

There are numerous posts here on this blog alone that provide excellent practical tips on how to jump into the social conversation and how to engage others.  Examine your five Ps to determine at what level you are now and then determine what are you going to do to get to the next level you want to be at?  Someone once said that the definition of insanity is to “do the same thing the same way and expect different results.” 

What do you need to do to move forward?