The 4P’s of Marketing for your business begin with your product – brand YOU!
Everyone enrolled in a college business curriculum will have taken Basic Marketing at some point, and likely learned the marketing variables called the 4Ps.
Our focus in this article is the P of Product. We think of a “product” as a material thing, and certainly your product encompasses the tangible results of your effort – a new kitchen, for example. But, it also encompasses the entire bundle of intangible benefits that you provide to your customer, the augmented product that is… brand YOU!
It’s time for you to think of and market yourself as a brand. Anyone can compete with you and duplicate a specific tangible product, but when you mix in the collection of benefits, talent, and experience that you offer, it is uniquely yours and becomes brand YOU. Marketers call this a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). The problem for many of us is that we don’t think of the intangibles of our business as part of our product offering. Your experience, your knowledge, your education, your contacts, even your personality all combine to make brand YOU. These intangibles are part of your brand portfolio and just as important, I’d argue even more important, than any photos of your projects that you have in your book. Your competitors will also have examples of their work, but their brand is not brand YOU.
Marketing and advertising guru Walter Landor once said, “Simply put, a brand is a promise.” Before you do any promoting, order business cards, or create a website, you need to precisely define your business not in terms of your objectives… your customer doesn’t care about that, but in terms of the offer to your customer, i.e. your brand promise. Let’s use an example. When Fedex began, they promised that when you absolutely, positively, had to have it there tomorrow they’d have the package delivered by 10:30 AM the next day. What is your promise to your customer? In the end, that promise is all you really have to sell.
Recognized authority on brands, David Aaker poses these questions for developing a personal brand:
1. What is the current image? What do people think of you in terms of personality, skill, etc.?
2. What are your assets, such as your education, personality elements and people skills?
3. What are your plans for programs to upgrade or change? Any plans to build new skills, add new activities or dial up of existing ones?
4. What image would you like to portray? How is it different from your existing one?
He goes on to say, “The end goal is to develop an aspirational image that will resonate with the target audiences, be credible or capable of becoming credible, and reflect personal aspirations.”
Focus on the core benefits that represent your brand and don’t leave out the character and personality that your brand conveys. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years in working with the design community, it is that while there are many common traits that good designers share, it is the differences among designers that establish their worth and value. Think in terms of how your customer will feel about the interaction with your brand. Once you have that figured out, then you can begin to put together the rest of your marketing plan for brand YOU.