I’ve been spending a lot of time developing new business relationships recently. And it occurs to me as I do so, how much time we all spend marketing ourselves. Selling your skill set to others is not unlike selling a product, actually. The marketing process is very much the same, and thinking about it that way really helps keep the process moving. I find that it comes down to three simple steps:
Step 1: Understanding your target audience
Who am I talking to? What are their needs? How can what I’m selling help them solve a problem? No matter if it’s you or a product – you have to have something your consumer wants. For myself, as a marketing generalist, sometimes I find that there are so many skill sets I can draw on, that it’s hard for a potential client to understand where I might fit. Listening to what they tell me and then identifying specific areas of opportunity are critical to helping find that common ground and making the sale.
Step 2: Developing a unique selling proposition (USP)
Marketing 101: What makes your product unique from all the others out there? Find that point of differentiation, and then deliver on it. We each have our own USP as well. For instance, while there are other strategic marketers out there, no one combines my exact set of skills (including having built and run my own companies) and executes them in the same way that I do. My personality is unique as well. I’ve been lucky in my career to work with many clients who truly enjoyed working with me – and that’s something that I try to parlay into new relationships as well. A big reason why I like to meet prospects for lunch or coffee is getting that personality out on the table and seeing if it’s a good fit on both sides. We spend a lot of time working with our clients – it’s always helpful when we like one another.
Step 3: Choosing the right mix of tactics to achieve your objectives
Think about what it takes to sell a product. Brand awareness, presenting your USP, making the sale, retaining a customer. And the range of tactics involved – direct mail, email, social media, outdoor advertising, television, print, event marketing, etc. There are a lot of choices you can make, and often choosing the right mix is the difference between success and failure. I find marketing myself is no different – I choose to use telemarketing, social media and email marketing to generate leads. Then, I use in-person appearances to identify a need and determine if there’s mutual interest (not terribly different from event marketing, really). Once a sale is made, I shift into retention mode – exceeding expectations in order to generate future sales. Finding that right mix is going to vary for every product (and for each of us), but it’s critical to being successful.
So, while I don’t like to think of myself as a mere “commodity”, the marketing mentality does tend to be very much the same. And just like not every product is right for every consumer, neither is what I’m selling. The hope is that identifying a few good customers generates the right ongoing relationships to keep the operation humming. And that’s true no matter what product or service you happen to be marketing.