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.