Monday, July 11, 2011

Marketing and Me

Last week, after three great years, I left my job running corporate communications for a large software company.

I was very fortunate – I left of my own accord, and I had plenty of time to think about the transition. Even so, I had two contradictory reactions to being gainfully unemployed: a feeling of delight at having oceans of time; and a feeling of mild panic at having no viable income. It’s hard not to oscillate wildly between indulging in projects and activities I’ve put off for years, then frantically job hunting.

I’ve worked almost all my career marketing, mostly in the high tech world but also for professional services firms and some consumer brands. In the last few weeks I’ve learnt that marketing feels very different when the subject at hand is You. Thinking about Brand You does a lot to focus attention on the fundamentals. Here’s some observations:

  • Know Thyself!
    It’s easy to have an instinctive understanding of what your professional value is, but I found myself having to work hard to organize my search. What are my target markets? What is the current demand in that market? What’s my professional objective? What differentiates me from the many other candidates? Like any other marketing program, answering these fundamental questions is Step One.
  • Resumes Revisited
    For many decades the basic tool – the promo piece – for advertising for work has been the resume. Nolonger. I’ve found that many conversations start because someone “found me” at this blog, because of press coverage I’ve appeared in, or via some other online imprint. Increasingly, our online resumes – our brand – is a diffused collection of activities. Managing these properly is critical.
  • Networks and Friends
    The influence of word-of-mouth on brand perceptions is well understood, but the reality comes sharply into focus when you’re searching for work. A recruitment consultant told me that over 75% of jobs are found through an individual’s immediate network of friends, colleagues and family. We often forget that the same is true for how most people make decisions about what brands to trust and invest in.
  • Social media works – and doesn’t
    A recent Pew Research study showed that fewer than 10% of “friends” on Facebook have never met in person. Social media is a wonderfully efficient way to maintain connections to our extended network of friends and colleagues, but it’s not so efficient at broadcasting beyond that network. Once or twice removed, the signal seems to get attenuated.
  • Professional networking and career sites can work
    I’m using Ladders, LinkedIn, Indeed and the rest, and they are remarkable. One reservation – moving to a premium, fee-based service on some of these sites has only a marginal benefit. The basic service is often enough, raising questions about the business models for some of these companies.

One other thing – I’ve come to realize how much I enjoyed the ‘Company of Friends” I worked with over the last few years. Good luck to you all!

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