Market Your Most Valuable Product: YOU!
by Karim Jaude

Today's business climate requires constant marketing. We market not only our products and services, but also ourselves. We do this whenever we write a resume, design a career path, or "do lunch" with colleagues.

First Things First

Before you begin marketing, determine your vision in terms of goals and objectives. What plan do you have to achieve them? Write it down! Without a concrete plan, you will never know how to realize it, or be able to gauge if you are even moving in the right direction.

Play Your Strengths

Know what strengths you have in advance. Don't let your weaknesses take over.

When my client Andrew, a famous litigation lawyer, takes a case, he becomes so involved that he stops marketing his practice. Some of his cases can last up to seven months. After they end, he finds himself "out-of-business" with no new clients. I helped him take proper action each week based on a marketing plan and strategy. Within ten months, Andrew not only built a full practice, but he had to hire two additional lawyers.

Like many of us, Andrew's weakness also lay in his strength: being so consumed with the immediate, he neglected business maintenance and growth, although he did his "homework" and conducted extensive research. I helped him schedule in time for marketing and delegate lesser chores along the way. Thus, he was able to build a successful practice.

Next is Who

Know your clients. Who is your ideal customer? Find out where they are and place yourself there. To do this, some businesspersons join professional associations in fields outside of their own. Others pick choice media outlets for specific consumer types.

Remember, not everyone you meet qualifies as a potential client. I don't talk at length to everyone I meet, though I do let them know how I help my clients. Instead, I target myself to my ideal customers.

Selective Perception

How I present myself will communicate how my business operates. The manner in which my market perceives me also influences my success. Today, people judge everything from your clothes and weight to your habits and colleagues.

Network, Network, Network

You now know the three most important words in marketing. Meet more people. Simply put, networking happens anytime two or more people get together. Your time is the most valuable asset. Carefully choose with whom you network.

Opportunity comes to everyone. Only those who are prepared will seize the opportunity and benefit from it. Here are seven steps to help you prepare for and take advantage of opportunity:

  1. Have a clean, precise self-introduction in which you explain how your clients benefit from what you have to offer. For example, "I help entrepreneurs and professionals become more effective, to promote and grow their businesses, their teams and themselves."

  2. Do your homework before you go to an event. Ask who is going to be there and try to learn something about them before you go to the meeting.

  3. Go 15 minutes early and stay 15 minutes after. If the meeting is very important, I would arrive at the event half an hour earlier. This way, I can choose who I want to meet.

  4. Networking events are not a contest to see how many business cards you can collect. Try to target a few people that meet your ideal client profile. Don't spend too much time with any of them. Spend enough time to get to know something about them. This will allow you to follow up with the right people.

  5. Some of my clients claim they don't know how to converse socially. Ask questions and pay a sincere compliment. Share with one another what each of you do. Make sure you specifically mention how the person with whom you are speaking can benefit from your particular service or product. Explain whom you want as your target market, so that, if it's not them, they can refer you to someone they know. Write down what you learn on the back of their card as soon as possible.

  6. Get involved in Chambers of Commerce; churches, synagogues or temples; charitable organizations; etc. Don't just join, get involved! This way, people will find out what you are capable of from your actions.

  7. Follow up and follow through. We all meet enough people, but the majority of us don't follow up. Remember, fortune lies in the follow through.

It's Not Who You Know…

It's who knows you. I may have 300 contact names in my Rolodex, but it matters more on whose Rolodex cards my name is found. I need to position myself as a resource to whom others can turn for help.

Provide Solutions

Learn more, offer advice, add benefits, use your resources, refer others to people who can help, and create solutions, instead of just providing the service or products required.

Get the Word Out!

Specialized newsletters, e-zines, and other media bytes have taken electronic marketing by storm. If you write, turn your words and work into private newsletters. Publish them on your website, or on somebody else's. Submit them to professional journals, and reprint your articles as free advertisements.

Do Only What You Do Best

A financial planning client of mine earned a maximum of $65K a year. Although he worked 15 hours per day, he couldn't meet his family's expenses. He did everything himself, from licking stamps to strategic planning.

I asked him to spend his time either with his clients or potential clients speaking at seminars jointly with insurance brokers and bankers on "How to Build and Protect Your Wealth." Following my advice, he's gotten involved with Chambers of Commerce; writes a short monthly newsletter, plus articles for industry publications catering to CPA's and lawyers; and profits from five other business growth principles that we developed together. In less than two years, he now earns four times his previous income.

Speak Up

Speaking in front of groups will position you as an expert and give you credibility in the topic on which you speak and, most likely, in your business as well. Speaking events provide great venues to learn, network, and meet potential customers.

Finally…

Market yourself every single day (or, at least every week). Consider it not as a one-time event, but as an on-going process. If you're not prepared when the opportunity arises, you may miss it.

You are your own best expert. You are the product or service you sell. Market yourself by focusing on your strengths and get the support of a professional: a coach or mentor. You will enjoy a fuller practice and greater financial success.


Karim A. Jaude (The Coach) is the founder of "BusinessCoach1"; a business and professional coaching service. For over six years he has been coaching entrepreneurs, executives and professionals to develop their skills, promote and grow their business, their teams and themselves; and to achieve peak performance while have fun in the process. He coaches by phone or in person. He practices in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Karim can be reached at 310-471-4185. E-mail: coachu@businesscoach1.com, website www.businesscoach1.com .

Many more articles in Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2004 by Karim A. Jaude. All rights reserved.

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