Marketing Yourself, Part 4 – Improve Your Message

 

Your marketing message

(Note: This is Part 4 of a four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

Communicate your verbal message with care

People not only judge you by how you look but also by what you say and how you say it. How you talk about yourself, your work, your boss or even your competition sends a message about you. If you aren’t careful, your verbal communication can undo any other self-marketing efforts you may have made.

What kind of message are you communicating?

When you are around others, what kind of message do you bring to them? Is it positive or negative? Are you someone who continually complains about life, rarely having anything good to say? Do people like to have you around or do they cringe when they see you coming? Are you the storm cloud that goes around raining on everyone’s parade or are you the type of person that spreads cheer and sunshine? How you communicate is critical to building a positive reputation.

How you judge others will be how others judge you

We read a verse in the Bible that says, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” This is good advice for human relations too! Whenever you are in the process of judging others it gives other people a clue of how to judge you.

I have had the opportunity to counsel a number of married couples on the verge of divorce. I have noticed that whenever a husband or wife starts to tell me all the horrible, mean and nasty things the other partner has done, I learn more about the person who is doing the talking than the person they are talking about.

The repelling nature of complaining and criticizing

Complaining and criticizing give a bad impression. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable and unpleasant it is to be in the presence of a chronic complainer? For me, to be around someone like that is like listening to fingernails dragged across a chalkboard. I just want it to stop or to get away from it. No only do people not like it but they are smart enough to subconsciously reason that if you are so negative about life and everyone around you then you must also think the same about yourself. If that’s the case then why would I want to associate with you?

Be of good cheer

We are told eight times in the Bible to “be of good cheer.” Usually this was told to people facing fairly dire circumstances. Proverbs 17:22 teaches: “A merry heart doeth good like medicine.” Let the message from your mouth be positive and cheerful and it too can be like medicine to others.

A wise man made this statement:

“In my lifetime I have seen two world wars plus Korea plus Vietnam and all that you are currently witnessing. I have worked my way through the depression and managed to go to law school while starting a young family at the same time. I have seen stock markets and world economics go crazy and have seen a few despots and tyrants go crazy, all of which causes quite a bit of trouble around the world in the process.

“So I am frank to say tonight that I hope you won’t believe all the world’s difficulties have been wedged into your decade, or that things have never been worse than they are for you personally, or that they will never get better. I reassure you that things have been worse and they will always get better. They always do…” – Howard W. Hunter (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter p. 202)

Upgrade your personal marketing message

Things may seem bad and even if they are you don’t need to go around continually telling everyone just how terrible things are. Every cloud has a silver lining. Look for it. Find it and focus on the good and positive things in life. Make the message you communicate to everyone around you be one that is pleasant and uplifting. You are judged by it. Your reputation is built on it. Create a positive self-marketing message and people will want to be around you, help you and do business with you.

Marketing Yourself, Part 3 – Improve Your Packaging

Improve your packaging

(Note: This is Part 3 of a four part series on Marketing Yourself)

What is your packaging saying about you?

There are many ways products are marketed. One way is by their packaging. As you walk up and down the aisles of any store you will be confronted with every type of retail packaging, fighting for your attention. Retail packaging is meant to do several things. Its first job is to get your attention, almost saying, “Hey, look at me!” Second, packaging communicates a message about what’s inside the box or package. Third, by its style and design it sends a message about the quality of the product inside.

Like retail product packaging, you too are communicating to those around you by your packaging, so to speak. The way you look can say a lot about you. People size you up in seconds and make decisions about you before you ever open your mouth.

Some say, “People shouldn’t judge me by how I look. They should judge me for who I am.” That’s nice to say and probably right but it’s not reality. People do judge you by how you look. We do judge books by their cover. We wouldn’t even look in a book, let alone buy one, if we weren’t impressed with the cover.

Here are 5 simple tips to help improve your personal packaging:

1. Dress nice

Okay, that sounds obvious, but look around you and see what people are wearing these days. You may have seen the Walmart People videos on YouTube. Make sure you’re not one of them! We all can do better. It doesn’t take a lot of money to dress nice in my opinion. Maybe some people can tell the difference between a $120 shirt and a $20 shirt but most can’t. A nice dress shirt that’s in good condition and pressed or a nice dress that fits well and looks good on you will make a big difference. It’s really not so much the price of the clothes but the choice of the styles and how they fit. If your clothes don’t fit, are old, worn out or out of style then it’s high-time you invested in some updated “personal packaging.”

2. Dress to fit the occasion

I think, within reason, you should dress to fit the occasion, meaning dress the part. For every occasion there is an expected level of dress. Obviously you can wear anything from a swimsuit, a jogging outfit, sweats and a t-shirt, jeans and a polo shirt, all the way up to formal attire such as suits, tuxedos, formal dresses and gowns. It depends on the situation. You have to judge what is the appropriate dress for the occasion, whether it’s formal, nice business casual, casual or whatever.

3. Dress slightly one notch above

Compared to other people in your organization, are you dressed on par with them or below? When others are dressed in Dockers and a button up shirt are you dressed in jeans, flip-flops and a t-shirt? This is probably not good for your personal marketing plan.

It’s always been my feeling that you should dress slightly one notch above what you think everyone else will be wearing. The idea is not that you will look ridiculously out of place but that you will simply stand out slightly.

It’s much better to be one notch above than one notch below how you think everyone is going to be dressed. It’s very embarrassing to be in a situation where you are obviously underdressed. If everyone else is in a suit and you’re in an open-collared shirt, you will feel very out of place and others will see that. You will feel it. You can stand out in a positive way or a negative way. The point is, if you’re going to stand out, stand out on the above-end not the below-end.

4. Mind your health

This can be a struggle for many, but let’s face it; a healthy, fit person comes across in a much more positive light than someone that isn’t. Again, you are being sized up by everyone around you within seconds of meeting you. Whether it’s right or not, it IS happening. You do it. We all do it. If you are serious about your personal marketing plan then you need to address any health issues within your control that may turn other people off.

5. Smile

Your smile is definitely part of marketing yourself. Your total self-image and your packaging include your demeanor. Do you have a smile on your face? Are you cheerful and happy? You don’t have to say anything with a smile. Just a simple smile at somebody sends a huge, positive message. People will want to be around you. They will have a positive impression of you.

Think for a moment about the people you deal with. Which people are you more likely to work with and cooperate with? Isn’t it generally those people who approach you with a smile on their face, who are cheerful and are in a good mood? You know how you feel when the person you’re dealing with has a scowl on their face. It’s not a pleasant experience. Their mood rubs off on you. By nature you tend to resist that person. You don’t want to be with that person. I’m sure, if you deal with any people at all, you can think of examples in both of these cases: those who are cheerful and have smiles on their faces and those who don’t. If you are like 99.9% of all human beings on this earth, you will prefer to work with and deal with the person who is happy and cheerful and has a smile on their face.

As part of your personal marketing plan you need to make sure you have a smile on your face as often as you can. Plus you just frankly look better with a smile on your face than when you don’t. So smile!

(Look for the upcoming final article in this four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

Marketing Yourself, Part 2 – Name Recognition

Name Recognition

(Note: This is Part 2 of a four part series on Marketing Yourself)

Part of any marketing campaign is developing name recognition. Professional marketers do this by getting their product name in front of people as often as possible and in as many ways as possible. Think of how many ways the Coca-Cola Company gets the name Coke in front of you. It’s everywhere it seems. I remember being in a small village in China, in the middle of nowhere, and there was the Coke logo on a sign outside a small shop. Coca-Cola has done a great job of developing name recognition.

In a similar way you need to develop name recognition. You need to get your name and face out there in front of people on a regular basis. My tips today are slanted more to the corporate world but the ideas can be applied to other situations. Here are three simple ways to do develop name recognition:

1. Step Outside of the Box (physically and mentally)

We’ve all heard the term, “Think Outside the Box.” Well, we also need to Step Outside the Box, mentally and physically. You can no longer hide behind your PCs or camp out in your cubicles or offices. It’s easy to spend the entire day at our desks. Get out of the office. Be seen and be heard. Attend meetings.Visit other people in their environment and see what exactly it is they do. Find out what their concerns and frustrations are. You will be amazed at what you learn.

2. Communicate Regularly

Communicate regularly with your boss and with your bosses’ boss.  This means more than just memos. Use the phone or meet one-on-one with them. Try to arrange to meet with each of them each month.  Do this by having something to report or show them.  Show them you are interested in two things – making their jobs easier and increasing the bottom line of the business. This face-time with them is extremely important when it comes to building name recognition.

3. Participate in Company Events

Many organizations have events such as annual picnics, Christmas parties or golf tournaments. Make it a point to be to these events and actively participate. They sometimes seem like insignificant activities but that’s not the case. What these activities provide are opportunities to rub shoulders with and get to know people of all levels of the organization. You get to know them and they get to know you. Plus you are seen as a team player, as part of the corporate culture.

Each of these techniques help you build name recognition within your group or organization. When your name is recognized in a positive light by the decision makers, this can only be for your benefit.

(Look for the next two articles in this four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

Marketing Yourself, Part 1 – Why You Need It

Marketing Yourself

(Note: This is Part 1 of a four part series on Marketing Yourself)

“If you think marketing doesn’t work, consider the millions of Americans who now think that yogurt tastes good.”     Joe L. Whitley, management consultant

What does Marketing Yourself have to do with People Skills?

You may wonder what marketing yourself has to do with people skills. Is marketing yourself really part of people skills? I say definitely yes! Why do you want to improve people skills in the first place? One of the goals of improved people skills is to influence and persuade others. Another goal is to put yourself across to others in the best light. Marketing yourself helps you do this.

What is Marketing?

What is marketing anyway? Marketing is simply creating an awareness of value. If you’re marketing a product then you’re putting that product forward in the most favorable light. You’re exposing it to people and showing the benefits of it; why someone would want it, why it would be something of value to them.

Why do you need Marketing?

The same thing goes with marketing yourself. You can compare yourself to a product. You need to be creating an awareness of your value. You need to be tooting your own horn, bragging a little! You need to help the captain of your ship see you as part of the crew, not as useless cargo. Marketing yourself is using various means and methods to communicate to others your value.

Like it or Not – You Are Already Marketing Yourself

You might think it’s not your job to do marketing. Well guess what, you’re already doing marketing every day. What you say in meetings, in the elevator, at the water cooler, the way you look and dress – it’s all marketing! If you’re not paying attention to how you’re doing your marketing you may be in trouble. It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much you contribute to your organization if no one knows about it. What does upper management know about you? What does the rest of the company know or think about you? Marketing really can make a difference.

What are some of the benefits?

What are some of the benefits? Let’s say your company is in the process of choosing someone to fill a key position and they have a choice between several people, including you. If you have been successfully marketing yourself you will be looked at in a more favorable light because of the way you look, they way you act and the way you talk. With all things being equal they will choose you over the other candidates.

This doesn’t just apply to the corporate or business world but also to your personal life. When you have successfully marketed yourself to your family, your neighbors and your community, they will see you and think about you in a more positive light. They will see you as a person who is friendly and kind, who they want to be around. The relationship you have with your neighbors, your family or your book club will be a positive experience. This can then open up many other opportunities for your future success and happiness.

Truth in Advertising

All the marketing in the world isn’t going to make a bad product good. Marketing will only get you so far. You need to walk your talk. Your performance needs to match your marketing for it to be effective. There must be substance behind the marketing. Be good at what you do and then market the heck out of it!

(Look for the next three articles in this four-part series on Marketing Yourself)

What is Your Personal Brand?

My Personal Brand

What is Branding?

One thing that companies do to promote a product is what is called “branding” or “building the brand.” Whenever you think of a brand such as Coca Cola, Apple, or Nike, certain thoughts and ideas run through your mind. You have an image of what these companies represent and what their products are like. Companies spend millions of dollars building and developing their brand.

For example, when you hear the name Apple, what comes to your mind? My first thought is of the Apple logo. Then thoughts and images of some of Apple’s products run through my mind such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad and iMac. Then I think of Apple’s reputation of making beautifully designed, high quality products that anybody can use. This is what “branding” does – it creates thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that are linked to a specific product or company.

Your Own Personal Brand

Like it or not, you are creating your own personal brand on a daily basis. Your personal brand is made up of the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and images that people think of when they think of you. The corporate world spends a ton of money managing and building their individual brands. What have you done lately to build your brand?For that matter, do you even know what your brand is? When someone thinks of you, what do they think?

Everyone Has a Brand

I have three friends that each have unique personal brands. My friend Mat is known for being just about the nicest guy around. He is always helping people and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him. My friend Travis is known as a go-getter, very motivated and business-like. He also loves the outdoors and gives the impression of a rugged, strong man. My third friend, Colin, has a much different personal brand. Everything he owns, uses or is involved with is of extreme high quality and also very expensive. Everything he does, he does with class.

Think for a moment about some of the people that you know. You’ll see that there are certain traits about each person that immediately come to mind. They may be a pain to be around. Maybe they are fun or funny or pleasant or self-centered or giving. Whatever comes to mind is their personal brand. It’s who they are to you and others.

You Are Creating Your Brand Every Day

The same thing happens when people think about you. What is your brand? When someone thinks of you, what do they think of? People who know you have already sized you up and judged you. You are developing your personal brand every day by the way you deal with and interact with others. Writer Howard Hodgson said, “Whatever business you are in, you are in a business of relationships. That’s why your reputation is your greatest asset.”

You need to understand what your personal brand is and make sure it’s what you want it to be. Is it the brand you want? Are there things about you that you need to work on and change?

Protect and Manage Your Brand

Corporations are very concerned with building, managing and controlling their brands. They will go to great lengths to make sure nothing taints or damages their brand. How are you doing with your own brand? Are you careful with it? Do you make sure you don’t damage it by doing stupid things or being inconsistent in your life? Your personal brand is what others perceive who you are. Is it what you want it to be? If not, then I encourage you to take the steps you need to repair, protect and manage your brand.

25 Tips for a Terrific Marriage

Marrying someone is a scary thing. You hope you choose the right person. You think you know them but you don’t. Not really! When my wife Lisa and I were dating we were so much in love. We couldn’t stand to be apart from each other. Neither of us could do any wrong. Then we got married. I woke up the next day beside a complete stranger! Who is this person? The first time we went shopping together we got into a big fight about cheese, if you can believe that!

No marriage is perfect. Even the best of marriages experience problems from time to time. Just because you have problems in your marriage doesn’t mean you have a bad marriage or that you should end your relationship. Nor does it mean you should begin a project to fix your spouse. If you try, you will fail every time. You can’t force anyone to do or be anything. I believe that the only way to get a better spouse is to become one yourself.

They say marriage is grand and divorce is at least 10 grand!

That is why I have put together this list of 25 tips to help you become the best spouse you can be. Here it is:

  1. Keep Dating – Just because you are married doesn’t mean the dating stops. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind of life and never get out together, away from the children, house and bills. Go to the park, a concert, the gym, out to dinner or a movie.
  2. Have Courtesy – Courtesy in marriage is more than just saying “Please,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” or “You’re welcome.” Courtesy in marriage is calling your partner to let them know you’re going to be late. It’s being conscious of their needs and making sure they are met.
  3. Show Respect – Your spouse will have opinions that are different than yours. Show respect for them by never belittling or making fun of them. Show respect for their ideas, their privacy, and their things.
  4. Say “I’m Sorry” – Be the first to make peace. Be willing to say “I’m sorry” and mean it.
  5. Give Surprises – The unexpected things in marriage are what add spice to life. A surprise date, a note on the mirror, finding the dishes done or flowers for no reason can boost your marriage.
  6. Have a Sense of Humor – Be playful, be funny, lighten up from time to time. Find the humor in any situation.
  7. Give Support – Show interest in your spouse’s outside interests and support them in it. Be a cheerleader for them. Help them accomplish their goals.
  8. Give Compliments – Find things about your spouse to compliment. They need to know that you still find them attractive or smart or talented. Tell them.
  9. Say “I love you” – You can never say this too much. Tell them every day that you love them. Go one step further and tell them why you love them.
  10. Have Fun – Don’t be a stick in the mud and never do anything fun. Go out and try new things. Or better yet, do the old things you did when you were dating that were so fun.
  11. Keep Talking – Communicate. Speak to each other. It’s amazing how many couples never talk. You talked until 3 in the morning when you where dating. Why did you stop?
  12. Keep Confidences – Don’t talk about your personal marriage problems with your parents or your friends. This is none of their business. There is a certain level of trust expected in a marriage that we must not tarnish.
  13. Connect Daily – Whether it’s a phone call, email, text message or chatting on Facebook; connect with your spouse every day just to say “Hi, how’s your day going?” Touching bases shows you care.
  14. Give Gifts – They say you can’t buy love but a gift now and then can help brighten the love you’ve got. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive, just a small token that shows you care. Of course big gifts can be nice too!
  15. Work Together – When you do things together like remodeling a room or planting a garden, you both feel that sense of accomplishment which strengthens the bonds of your relationship.
  16. Never Humiliate – Don’t correct or demean or put down your spouse in front of others. It’s bad enough to do these things when you are alone but to humiliate in front of others is paramount to marital suicide.
  17. Listen – One of the simplest yet most neglected things we can do to strengthen our marriage relationship is to listen. It can be a challenge in our multi-tasking-world to stop everything we are doing and actually listen with our full attention but this is crucial to showing we care.
  18. Romance – Somewhere deep inside every adult is a giddy, silly teenager that thrived on juvenile crushes, puppy love and romance. It doesn’t go away; we just tend to suppress it. Light up your relationship again with romance.
  19. Bury the Past – In other words, learn to forgive. Let things go. Don’t keep dredging up past offenses every time you have a new argument. Forgive and forget.
  20. Write Notes – One of the easiest things you can do for your spouse is to write a simple love note and leave it somewhere to be discovered. Somehow, putting it in writing makes it that much more meaningful.
  21. Pick Your Battles – Some things just aren’t worth fighting over. If the issue at hand won’t matter in the long run then concede the battle. Let it go. Winning battles only to lose the war is foolish.
  22. Say “Thank You” – Show appreciation for the little things you take for granted on a daily basis. Your spouse needs to hear from time to time: “Thank you for going to work every day.” “Thanks for a wonderful dinner.” “Thanks for mowing the lawn.” Say it and mean it.
  23. Don’t Smother – When they say a married couple should be “as one” it doesn’t mean you should be tied together 24×7. Allow some slack in the marriage bond from time to time to allow your spouse some personal time and expression.
  24. Sacrifice – Give up something you want so your “better half” can have what they want. Let them choose the restaurant, the movie or television show.
  25. Be Nice – This sounds obvious but sometimes we treat those closest to us worse than we treat strangers. If you treated your friends like you treated your spouse would you have any friends? Something to think about.