Chapter 9 Doing a Quick Take on YOU (much harder than it sounds)
Remember the quick take you did on the burger brands in Chapter 4? Now, you need to do the same exercise for yourself. A quick review of who you are… through the eyes of a marketer. Remember, you are the Chief Marketing Officer of Brand You. Here is the form – please keep your responses simple and be truthful, because if you kid yourself, you are only kidding yourself…
(What are you ‘selling’?)
(What people can always expect you to be!)
Symbols & Signals
(What colours, styles etc. are you known for?)
(3 descriptors of your personality)
History & Reputation
(What reputation do you have? Baggage?)
(Functional, Emotional and/or Sensorial)
(Who loves you the most?)
Position / Role
(Leader/Follower, Father etc.)
(What is your Consumer’s core idea of YOU in 3 words?)
Once you have completed the quick take, share it with your key consumers – your boss, your spouse or significant other, and a few close friends who you can trust to give you honest feedback – firm it up and lock it down. If there are areas that you find you are not happy with, figure out what you would like those areas to say… we will figure out how to make that happen in the coming chapters.
A few tips on how to approach your quick take.
Be tough on yourself. If you find weaknesses, or ‘areas of opportunity” as they are often euphemistically referred to as, recognize them for what they are, so that you can fix them over time. Ignoring them won’t make them go away anyway.
If you find strengths – and there will be some! – note them down so that you can build on them. Those are your leverage points – they will come in very handy as you are building your brand identity, and trying to move forward with strengthening your personal brand.
Chapter 10 Your “consumer” & the “categories” you play in (how is this a source of advantage for you?)
What are you? In marketing terms, into what category of product do you fall? Who do you compete WITH for the rewards that you seek? To make it easier to understand, let’s use McDonald’s as an example. McD’s is a fast food brand. So is Burger King. So, what are you?
For example… Athlete? Banker? Pediatrician? Plumber? Ad executive? That’s easy, you say? Well, here are some things to think about.
1. The categories you choose must be in consumer terms – e.g. to your spouse, the categories might be husband, handyman, father to your kids, and so on. To your boss, they might be analyst, chief cook and bottle washer, accountant, sales person, or whatever. And to your friends, the categories might be completely different – support mechanism, designated driver, chess wizard or music aficionado.
2. You – and your brand – will likely fit into multiple categories. Understand that, embrace it, and manage it.
3. Know with whom you are competing in each of your roles. In the office, it’s fairly clear. You and your co-workers are vying for the attention and praise of your boss. Right? Well, once you are properly branded, you stop competing on the stupid things, and start competing where it really matters – on your terms.
4. Choose the category that suits you best. That’s right, you get to choose the category that suits your unique strengths and allows you to position yourself for the most flattering exposure, in the best light possible. This takes some creativity and thought, but if you are able to define the category properly, you become the only – and therefore the default – option. A classic example is the way Apple computers chose to define the category they play in – personal computers. They divided the world into two types of people – PC users and Mac users. How powerful is that? Just brilliant. So how do you find the perfect category for you? It’s simple, but not easy. Define it in such a way that makes it impossible for it to be anyone BUT you.
So, take a few minutes and think about the four points above. How do you want to define yourself relative to everyone else? That is the beginning of true differentiation, and the source of your greatest strength as a brand.
Now, let’s talk about who you are competing FOR – your consumer… their hearts, their minds, and in many cases, their wallets. You want to be first and foremost in your consumers’ mind, right? So when your boss has a problem, he turns to you first. When he or she has to let people go from their team, who do they never even consider axing? When your spouse has issues, to whom does he or she turn to first? What about your children? Your friends?
You need to truly understand your consumer to have any chance at dominating their thoughts and actions in any given area. And more importantly, recognize that knowledge is not absolute, it is relative. If you know your boss better than the other members of their team, that is a source of competitive advantage for you… but if you don’t, then it puts you at a disadvantage.
What about your spouse? Do you know him or her better than anyone else? How many marital infidelities occur and long and otherwise ‘healthy’ marriages end because one person “doesn’t understand” the other in the relationship? I’m sure you know someone who’s life has been thus affected… if it’s important to you, if this person, your spouse or significant other is truly a “consumer” in your life, you NEED to know them well, better than anyone else does, and they and everyone else in your life needs to acknowledge that.
So remember – knowing your consumer really, really well is a source of competitive advantage for you. Or it can be. And if you don’t know them as well as someone else, you could seriously lose out. Here’s how to ensure that does not happen.
The consumers in your landscape – even the ones that really matter – are unique. They have completely different needs, wants and desires. Different genders, different ethnicities, different ages, different lifecycle stages… so different. Yet these things are easily recognizable and it’s hard to build a true understanding of a book by looking at its cover. So, you need to go deeper. You need to understand their values, their habits and their self-image, because these things drive the perceptions that drive their behaviour. In order to get the behaviour you are looking for – e.g. that raise or promotion from your boss – you need to understand the perceptions that you have to create in your boss’s mind to make that happen. He has to believe that you are the best candidate for the job, the ideal candidate… in fact, the obvious and only choice.
Our perceptions are driven by our values, and those, along with our self-image, create the habits that we live our lives by. Here’s how to build a deep understanding of your consumers – and you should answer these questions for all your key consumers, but at the very least, for your boss, your spouse, your family and your friends.
1. What do they do in life to express who they are? What do they care about? You need to understand their passions, their hobbies, and their interests, and not with a cynical view either. Remember, you are trying to truly understand what makes this person tick.
2. How involved are they in your life? Are they ‘into’ you, and what do they do to reflect that? Do they like to spend time with you? Are your interactions positive or negative?
3. What do you mean to them? What is your role in their life? Are you the chief whipping boy on your boss’s staff, the guy who gets lumped with the worst assignments? Are you the spouse’s true valentine?
4. What triggers them to think of you? Are you the go-to person in times of difficulty? The person your child turns to for comfort? When do they turn to you? Or not…
5. What criteria must a replacement for you meet in order to be considered? I know that’s cold, but heck, how many people do you know that have been replaced overnight by someone younger, smarter, more qualified, and less expensive than the person being replaced? I bet you can think of one or two people who fit that description… and this happens in business and in our personal lives. Ask yourself the tough questions now, and you may save yourself a great deal of unnecessary soul-searching later on…
6. What behaviour, attitude or belief would cause them to reject you, or someone else, entirely? For example, if you continually display a chauvinistic attitude towards the women in your life, you may end up without a spouse or a job. Which would be worse, I wonder?
7. What type of people do these consumers tend to gravitate to? Who do they identify with? Are you that type of person? If you don’t even know with whom they want to be, you can’t answer that with any certainty.
8. How important are you in the lives of your consumer? Is their importance in your life matched by your importance in theirs? While the balance is seldom exactly equal, it should at least be in the same ballpark; otherwise you are doomed in the long term.
9. And at the end, demographics do matter. If the age difference between you and your boss is 25 years (you are the older one), the chances of increased levels of strife and discord are higher. It makes the answers to all the above questions even more important for you as you try to build a real understanding of your consumer… so that you can do an even better job of being the unique and differentiated brand that they choose every day, every time.
So, let’s assume that you are on your way to building a deep understanding of what motivates and drives your consumer, and the attitudes, values and beliefs that they hold. Let’s get to work putting together a powerful perception plan that can get them to believe what you want them to believe about you – so that you can get that next promotion, land the big job, or marry the girl of your dreams. And in case you were wondering, that’s actually the easy part… ☺ It’s much harder to bring that to life through your action plan, but there’s no need to worry. We will get there together. Read on.