For every marketer and business development (BD) professional, mastering the four Ps is week-one stuff.
We learn that putting the right product – or combination of products – in the right place at the right time and at the right price is essential and that a business can peg its USP on this to afford it an advantage in the market place and against its competitors. We also know that without it, a business will inevitably fail. Marketers constantly strive to answer the question “what can I do to offer a better product to this group of people than my competitors?” and work out what differentiates their business from the competition. But in a competitive marketplace that remains fiercely candidate-led this also applies to YOU as an individual. It goes without saying you need to promote and sell your personal USPs. And if you’re already doing this, you need to do it better.
You already have an edge. Out of everyone looking for a job, developing your USP is something you should be able to do best. Think about how the concepts you have learnt along the way can be applied to making yourself stand out from the crowd. So as well as making sure your CV is concise, accurate and well-presented you also need to ask yourself some other important questions.
Why should an employer hire you? To help uncover your USP, put yourself in potential employers’ shoes, step back and carefully scrutinise what your “customer” might actually want. You must create the right product mix just as you would when marketing a professional service or a product. Think about what the “client” would want from the “service” or “product” (i.e. you). What features must the product have to meet the client’s needs? How will it be used? What does the product look like? How is the product different from your competitors? Ask yourself what you can do to offer a better product. To develop a deep understanding of your target market you need to be an amateur psychologist. What is motivating the recruitment process? How is the sector doing? If you’re up for interview with a particular firm, are they growing, or merging with another? Is it listed? How’s its share price doing? Yes, they might be looking for a new appointment within the marketing or BD team, but exactly why are they looking? Go beyond the normal online search and do a bit more digging – for example at old press articles, financial data and annual reports. You’ll be surprised how much more you can learn about a company. If there’s a vacancy you’re interested in do you know anyone who has worked there or is working there? If you do, don’t hang back from making contact. You’re likely to have a more open view of what it’s like to work at that firm. Similarly, remember, it’s only one person so don’t base all your opinion on that viewpoint, just bear it in mind and judge overall.
If you’re using an established recruitment agency, they’ll play a vital role as they’ll have a strong knowledge of both sectors and firms and if you’d be a good fit. They’ll only be putting you forward for specific roles that are suitable and where they know you’ve a much better chance of success.
So all knowledge from whichever source is useful. Finding out more about the past will help you understand the point the company has got to in its present incarnation. And ask yourself what benefits you’d bring to the firm and sell yourself as someone who can add value.
What are your distinguishable skill sets? List the skills and experience you have that are required in the job you are seeking and think of strong examples to talk through at interview. As well as the “technical” skills it’s really important to think about “softer” areas such as communication and dealing with people, time and project management as well as your ability to build strong working relationships. It sounds obvious, but there is only one you and – for most firms – having the right personality fit is hugely important so use this to your advantage.
Do you have any specific industry/sector experience? Think about “place” within your personal marketing four Ps. Understanding your target market better will mean you’ll understand which industries will be of most interest and which will have the most relevance.
Are there any other sectors in which you’ve worked that allow you to demonstrate skills that would crossover? What achievements can you demonstrate or challenges have you faced that are relevant? Different industries will have different issues, different working practices and different challenges so having an in-depth understanding of a particular sector will almost certainly set you apart.
How can you best promote yourself? If you think about how important promotion is to boost sales and brand recognition in order to stand out from the crowd then you’ll also need to make sure you have a strong social media profile. Use LinkedIn as a way of showcasing your unique experience and skills. Ask colleagues for testimonials so that if a prospective employer looks at your page they are impressed and keen to find out more. If you use any other social media channels, then be sure they aren’t full of the wrong kind of “promotion”! We all have social lives but use social media to your advantage, not your disadvantage. What salary are you looking for? Determining the survival of any business or service is “price”. As a hugely important part of the marketing mix, price defines the perception of your product. Exactly like you’re your firm’s clients, your potential employer is looking to see what they will get for their money.
Price yourself well. You don’t want to ask for too little a salary to appear inferior – or too much and seem as if the costs might outweigh the benefits. Price accordingly dependent on what your demand and experience is and again, listen to your recruitment agency. If they know their stuff, they’ll have extensive knowledge of salary scales within the sector and will put you forward for roles within a correct bracket. You won’t be the right fit for every firm so don’t feel despondent if some of your applications aren’t successful. Every firm is looking for a different set of attributes and expertise. But by working out what your USP is, using the marketing skills you already have and finding a specialist recruitment agency to add value to your search you’ll be able to find the perfect job in the perfect working environment for you as an individual.