Whether we like it or not, almost everything comes down to marketing:
- Resumes and cover letters, interviews, and references distinguish qualified candidates through marketing. Very rarely does a business actually give an interviewee a challenging test to assess mastery of desired skills. Who you know, how you look on paper, what others say about you, and how you handle yourself in person are highly important (provided that you meet the qualifications).
- What you know doesn’t matter unless you succeed in marketing yourself as knowledgeable. You must have the knowledge to establish this as a long-term perception, but just having the knowledge by itself isn’t enough. The same is true for your skills set and your ability.
- If you have a degree, experience, or training, you’re just one of many other candidates with a similar background. People like to work with someone they know personally or who has good recommendations, and they like to hire applicants who market themselves the right way.
- Even diligence, motivation, and passion are marketable. Some people, for example, manage to seem busier than they really are.
- People brand you by the style of clothing you choose to wear, the cut of your hair, the way you speak, how you smell, and how you accessorize. Everything you say, do, and wear can and will be used to establish your brand.
- Those who excel at marketing a positive image about their talents, character, diligence, motivation, passion, and performance have a distinct advantage in life, whether they are selling products, offering services, applying for a job, going out on a date, looking for friends, bonding with family, and anything else in life.
You can argue that it shouldn’t be this way. But if you’re not going to change the way things are, then you’re just a philosopher.
You can pretend it isn’t this way. Surely, there are some exceptions to the rule, but you can’t completely avoid it.
Or you can accept what is and make the best of it. You don’t have to sell out to thrive, but you should understand the rules of the game and decide where you want to fit.
And you can understand why marketing is so important. For example, if you’re truly passionate about a job, wouldn’t you market yourself with the best possible resume and cover letter? Wouldn’t you take the time to research what employers expect? Wouldn’t you learn some tips for good interview techniques? Wouldn’t you have put the time and effort into mastering your trade and impressing people on the way?
Whether you’re applying to school, applying for a job, selling a product, selling a service, and most other things in life – personal or business – having the passion and motivation to learn how to market yourself and diligently work to do this effectively helps you stand out.
What you’re trying to market needs to be good in order to achieve long-term success, but how you go about marketing it can make a huge difference in perception and results.
Self-promotion doesn’t tend to be effective (but self-demotion may be). If you just walk around saying, “I’m the best there is,” it’s not going to work. Discovery is a better method. Let people find out, in natural ways (including conversations), things that distinguish you. Showing them (naturally) is better than telling them, and interacting in person is more effective than not.
Help to market others whom you know personally to be worthy of it (but don’t market people in ways that they don’t deserve – as this can harm your own reputation).
What people think about you, who you know, how you handle yourself, appearance, possessions, who you choose to interact with, what you do, how you react to adversity, and even the way you prepare things play important roles in branding your image (personal and business). Ideally, you want to emphasize your strengths and show improvement in your weaknesses (which also takes work on your part, not just marketing).
How would you like to be known (or not known)? Think about the things you do (not just your actions, and not just at work) and how they may affect this perception.
- Jean is such a passionate artist. You should see the expression on his face when he’s painting.
- Anne is incredibly well organized. She knows where everything is.
- If it’s broken, send it to Bob.
- Jennifer has been working on this presentation day and night for the past month.
- Ted has an amazing way with words. He can articulate anything very precisely.
Beware of possible marketing mistakes than can have long-lasting effects. You don’t want to be branded in negative ways. You don’t want to be known for complaining, cheating, arrogance, being a jerk, whining, being too dependent, arguing, self-promotion, etc. One lousy action or statement can undo months of positive marketing.
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers (Volume 2 on book marketing is now available)