5 Reasons to Always Uphold Your Brand Promise

In business, your brand promise is everything. It tells your customer exactly what he should expect from your brand. It is your form of goodwill which you must uphold at all costs.

Here are 5 reasons to always uphold your brand promise:

Brand promise sets your apart from your competition

Regarding my online eBay store, I ship only domestic and global USPS priority mail. I also offer reasonable prices on tall women’s affordable luxury fashion. The customer knows this every time she enters my store. View your brand promise as your competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage is something that you do better than everyone. 

It’s all about integrity

What does your brand stand for? Regardless of business cycle, maintaining your brand promise is a non-negotiable in business. Brands that don’t uphold it go out of business soon.

Enhances your customer’s experience

Your brand promise enhances and enriches your customer’s experience. Your brand promise creates a tangibility to customer. Since most business is conducted online, tangibility is a great service marker. Upholding your brand promise also means repeat customers and great word of mouth to potential customers.

Internally, as a business, your brand promise connects to your branding strategy

My eBay store motto is ‘giving you Neiman Marcus merchandise at near rock bottom prices’. Combining my motto with my brand promise, strengthens my brand strategy. My brand strategy is to serve tall women (and the men who love them) affordable luxury fashions. Knowing that she’ll get all of these benefits from my store enticing her to buy. This branding strategy also results in a 100% positive feedback rating.

No confusion about what I do (and don’t) offer

I focus on tall women’s luxury fashion. That’s it. Upholding my brand promise clearly communicates this message to the marketplace.

Business cycles fluctuate. Your brand promise shouldn’t. These 5 tips will help you avoid any lapses.

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Source: http://carlarjenkins.com/5-reasons-always-uphold-brand-promise/

This Week in PCM : Position Yourself as an Expert

05082016 Position Yourself as an Expert

Many professionals fear May because it is college commencement month. There is a slew of newly minted degreed professionals who will work for less money. Don’t view this as a bad thing. View yourself as an expert and the marketplace always pays experts more than beginners. Take May and turn this month on its ears by positioning yourself as an expert.

Conduct a skills inventory

This is a skills assessment. This is the first step of the process. Before you position yourself as an expert, you must know what you can do. Write down what you can do not what you are good at (yet). Just scribble down what you can do at work. Also include your hobbies. If you are the head of your Girl Scouts troop then write down that you possess leadership and child development skills. Make this an exhaustive list because you don’t know what you are good at. Too often we restrict our talents and skills to our job. Here list everything.

Determine what you are good at

Now whittle down that exhaustive list into three categories: low medium and high. These categories are for how well you perform each skill. If you are not very good at it, rate it as low. If you are good at it but not an expert, rate it as medium. However, if you can do it in your sleep, rate this as high. When you’re done, you’ve categorized all of the skills on your list.

Focus on the Skills on Your High List

This list contains the skills that you will use towards becoming an expert. These are the skills that separate you from everyone else. This list serves as the foundation to build your competitive advantage. Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you can do better than anyone else. This advantage is how you position yourself in the market. It is also how you overcome the dredge of new college graduates entering the market. They don’t have your skills, wisdom and experience.

Furthermore, your competitive advantage separates you from your contemporaries too. Those professionals whom have your skills, education, and years of experience don’t have the same comparative advantage. I think that many older professionals only view the new graduates as competition but the person next to you is your competitor. Yet, he probably does not have your competitive advantage because there is something that you can do better than he can do.

Communicate Your Comparative Advantage

This is the final but critical step towards becoming an expert. People must know what you can do. There are plenty of highly skilled people whom don’t promote themselves in the marketplace. No one will know if you don’t communicate this to them. You can communicate this through speaking and giving presentations. I know that more people fear public speaking than death. Let me put a spin on this : when you speak, you are communicating your proficiency. Don’t fear transmitting your expertise to people. Embrace it because someone needs and if you are really good, will pay for it. You can also write and mentor other people. These are two other communication methods. Regardless of the means that you use, get your message out there so that someone will notice. Communicating your comparative advantage sends a signal out to the marketplace that you have overcome fear of public speaking and the unknown to emerge as an expert.

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How to Reposition Your Brand when You Switch Careers

01272016 Reposition

In today’s workforce, it is rare that you will stay in your same position your entire career. You will move into other positions and even other companies. When you do, your brand will shift along with the move. For example, you start as a customer service representative in the call center. After 3 years, your department’s manager sees that you are really good at your job so you get promoted to customer relationship management (CRM) assistant in the market research division. Although you are in the same department (customer service), you are no longer talking with customers every day. You are now processing customer data to generate effective marketing campaigns. There are a lot of changes here. Not only have you been promoted but your new job is vastly different from your old job. Your professional brand has shifted and you need to reposition yourself for your new job. Below are my tips:

Pivot on your competitive advantage. In branding, competitive advantage is called your brand promise.

You must now discover what you do well on the new job. Using the CRM assistant as an example, your competitive advantage is that you can spot outliers in the data because you’ve spoken with the actual customers. This background knowledge helps you know that certain transactions are not in the correct group.

Over the course of my career, I have repositioned my brand five times (thus far). I have had to reposition my brand when I relocated from Cleveland to DC; promoted from economist to Program Analyst; became CAPM certified; transitioned from the public sector to private sector and, moving from employee to employer. Each time, I have to rely on a new competitive advantage to reposition my brand for greater success.

Identify what to keep, what to let go

Some things in your past career don’t work in your current career. For instance, in the call center, your key metric is reducing churn (telephone attrition). Now that you are the CRM assistant, you are responsible for data integrity. Although keeping people on the phone and making the sales were important as a sales representative, these skills are no longer important now.

Grow your new network without alienating your current network

The important thing here is to look at the overlap. Remember, your network is your net worth. For instance, both the customer service representative and the CRM assistant work in customer service and track customers. Therefore, if the CRM data is showing irregularities then you could still leverage your call center connections to discover why. Whenever I transition jobs or sectors, I always keep in touch with my former bosses and coworkers. You never know when you might need a favor or an unbiased professional opinion.

Hopefully these tips will help you reposition your personal brand because you deserve the best career! Check out more personal branding tips and positive change management strategies at my website is http://positivitychange.com/

 

This Week in Positive Change Management : Personal Brand Strategy Tips

01242016 You are the brand!

Developing a personal brand strategy is essential towards career advancement. Even before you walk into the office for an interview, your personal brand proceeds you. Here are several tips towards creating a dynamic personal brand strategy.

Your Competitive Advantage is Your Foundation

Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you do better than anyone else. It is also the foundation towards building your personal brand strategy. You must discover then market it to employers to guarantee landing that job offer that you cover. The main question you must ask yourself is what sets you apart from everyone else? (I discuss competitive advantage steps in my article here: http://bit.ly/1ZXCRzH)

Know your target market (companies that would benefit from your talents)

This is a critical step. One of the biggest mistakes that people often make is being everything to everyone. Well, you cannot do this which is why I stress knowing your target market. Once you’ve discovered your competitive advantage, research which industries are best suited for your talent. For instance, if you are a fashion designer, you wouldn’t apply for a construction job. You must know which industries complement your competitive advantage in order to successful craft your strategy.

Know how you want to position your brand

Brand positioning is another critical component. How are you marketing yourself? Are you entry-level, mid-level or senior-level? These are just the basics. We can drill deeper down into a category. For example, at the senior level, are you vying for a director, vice president or chairman position? These three different jobs require three different brand positioning strategies. That’s why you cannot be general here because you will get too many jobs that are not great fits. These generalities also waste a lot of your time sifting through these numerous positions.

Develop your pitch

Whether you like it or not, you are always in the business of selling yourself. Developing your pitch is your way to communicate your personal brand strategy. Your pitch should be in between 15-30 seconds long and include these four factors:

  • who you are,
  • what you do,
  • what you are looking for and
  • how you can solve a problem

Own yourself and your content

In the 21st century, owning your name domain is essential towards controlling your personal brand strategy; but, there are so many people who don’t own it. You must have your own platform to control what kind of message you want to transmit. Although social media is free, you don’t want to be at the mercy of Twitter, LinkedIn or any other sites to communicate your message. Go to Name.com, Domain.com or GoDaddy.com to search your name. If it is available, then buy it. Next, buy a self-hosted WordPress site not anything with name.wordpress.com! That’s unprofessional but more importantly, WordPress controls your platform. Go to WordPress.org, BlueHost or HostGator for self-hosting sites. There are many others.

I would also recommend that you start blogging on your site. Part of crafting your personal brand strategy is positioning yourself as an expert. Blogging about your professional expertise is a way to get noticed. Create content that supports your brand positioning. Write articles around your competitive advantage. The majority of my articles center around economics, brand management, change management and project management. For example, I publish my articles on my blog first before posting it on LinkedIn and Medium. There are so many people naively posting on LinkedIn who don’t have their own platforms. You cannot control your message when you don’t own yourself. LinkedIn owns all of your copyrights when you publish there first.

Develop a comprehensive brand marketing strategy

In marketing there are 4 Ps : product, price, place and promotion. Here you will create a comprehensive brand marketing strategy in order to capitalize upon all available opportunities. Once you have completed all of the previous tasks, doing this is fairly easy. Here is my 4Ps:

  • Product: you
  • Price: current or future salary
  • Place: Anywhere or your preferred region
  • Promotion:
    • In-person
    • Online: LinkedIn, social media, blog, website, podcasting

You are the product. The price is your current or future salary. If you are going for a promotion, research salaries through sites like Glassdoor.com, so that you aren’t lowballing yourself. You can also look at professional organizations because they keep salary profiles. For place, you can market yourself in a specific region or be open to relocation. Your strategy will change based on this. With promotion, you can sell yourself online as well as in-person. Always have an in-person component because you need to meet real people because it will be they not the computer algorithm that hires you.

Thrive not Strive

01132016 thrive

 

Strive: 1:  to devote serious effort or energy:  endeavor <strive to finish a project>

2:  to struggle in opposition:  contend

Thrive: 1:  to grow vigorously:  flourish

2:  to gain in wealth or possessions:  prosper

3:  to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances —often used with on <thrives on conflict>

A lot of people call themselves strivers but do you really want to schlep through life? Do you really want ‘to continuously struggle in opposition to something’? Or do you want to ‘progress towards a goal’? Thriving is much better.

Ways to Thrive

Evaluate your current personal and professional routines looking for small ways to tweak them.

Examine your current personal and professional situations. Where are you? Where can you improve? Write them down then divide them into smaller parts. Find smaller ways to make a bigger impact. One strategy is called the 1% improvement. Instead of trying to make the big leap, just make small changes to your personal and/or professional routines. These small little things can pay big dividends.

For instance, what if lunch costs $10 a day and you pack your lunch every day for one week. This small change saves you $50 this workweek. During a 4-week month, this small change will save you $200. That’s a small change leading to something big. That’s a great example of tweaking your daily routine in order to thrive.

See yourself as world-class.

It’s hard when you’re stuck in the muck and mire, trying to pay your bills. You are caught in survival mode. You just want to get through the workday, get home and take care of your children; and, then do it all over again. However, you have to view yourself as more than a widget. You’re contributing something unique to the workplace. Playing to your strengths is a way to thrive in both your personal and professional lives. Read your original position description and look at why you were hired. This is one way of finding your competitive advantage. Do one thing showcasing it at work. You can do a presentation or demonstration of the new product or service. These are two ways to display your professional uniqueness. Once you own your uniqueness, you’ll start seeing yourself as a world-class contributor instead of someone who fills a cubicle punching a clock! Remember, companies are resourceful. They don’t waste money hiring duplicates.

The difference striving and thriving are small tweaks that will payoff huge. Commit to making these small changes so that you will have a bigger year!

This Week in Positive Change Management : Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition

12282015 Unique Selling Proposition

In the New Year, everyone wants to brush off their resumes and apply for the all new jobs. The problem with this strategy is that you’re doing the same thing this year as you were last year. Last check, insanity is the doing the same thing but expecting a different result. It is my responsibility to dispense truth and not sell pipe dreams to anyone here. Therefore, I am telling you that you need to develop your unique selling proposition in order to get a new job this year.

Developing a unique selling proposition (USP) is a great way towards managing positive change in the New Year. A USP is mostly associated with Fortune 500 companies but you can still apply these tactics towards bolstering your personal career brand. Your USP lets you develop a positive career message to sell yourself in the global career marketplace.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

According to Kissmetrics (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/unique-selling-proposition/), USP is what your business stands for. Businesses with a USP stand for something specific, and it becomes what you’re known for.

Multinational brands like Pepsi and Cola-Cola have USPs. You must hone yours to differentiate yourself from the global competition. Yes, I mention global competition because unlike a whole lot of people on here, they are only focused on people in the United States. In the 21st century, you are competing against everyone in the world. Developing your unique selling proposition is a realistic way of landing a job. Below are the steps towards developing your USP (http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/marketing-strategy/branding/developing-your-usp-a-step-by-step-guide). Although these are for companies, I have used for your personal brand:

Understanding your target audience

When I mention your target audience, what I mean the specific employers that fit your skill set. This is important because it is a waste of time to flood Monster and CareerBuilder with umpteen resumes with jobs that don’t fit. Cultural fit is the most important part of your unique selling proposition because it doesn’t matter if you get the money if you are miserable and your coworkers are backstabbers.

What is your competitive advantage?

Your competitive advantage is the one thing distinguishing you from your competitive advantage. I have discussed this in my former article entitled Promoting Your Competitive Advantage here .

Be a Problem Solver

Companies hire problem solvers plain and simple. Your cover letter must answer how you would solve their problems in general. In the interview you generally solve their problems. You DO NOT specifically solve their problems until they hire you and start paying for your expertise.

Testing and Refining Your USP

You have to put your USP out in the marketplace to evaluate its performance and obtain feedback. Feedback is essential towards perfecting your brand. If your USP isn’t generating phone screens or interviews, then you must refine it. Non-response is feedback that you should incorporate in order to get considered.

Communicating Your USP

Also you should refine your USP if you are getting interviews but not jobs. This means that you are doing something wrong in your interviews. Are you communicating that you are a problem-solver? That’s one of the steps. Remember that companies hire problem solvers; therefore, if you aren’t showing that you’re a problem-solver then add this into your USP.

You are a unique individual with distinguishable skills. Using these steps towards developing your unique selling proposition, increases the probability that you will land a new job this New Year.

If you like article and would like to read more check me out on PositivityChange.

 

Promote your competitive advantage

12012015 Promote Your Competitive Advantage

Developing and promoting your competitive advantage are indispensable towards getting the best job out there. Before I go any further, let me define what competitive advantage is. The definition for competitive advantage is ‘a condition or circumstance that puts a company in a favorable or superior business position‘. Individuals have competitive advantages just like companies.

How to develop your competitive advantage

Doing a SWOT analysis is a way towards finding your competitive advantage SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal. Opportunities and threats are external. Now let’s conduct a SWOT analysis. Write out all of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal is to maximize your strengths and opportunities and to minimize your weaknesses and threats. From the SWOT analysis, you will now know what you are good at. Once you know this, the next step is promoting your competitive advantage in the marketplace.

How to promote your competitive advantage

There are three steps towards effectively promoting your competitive advantage. These steps are: research your industry, leverage your transferable skills and avoid myopia. When you research your industry, look at what your competitors are doing. What are the trends that are out there? What pieces of the current trends can you incorporate in your repertoire to increase your marketability? If can find an angle to exploit then go for it because this is your competitive advantage.

The next step is to leverage your transferable skills. You have discovered them from doing the SWOT analysis. These are your strengths. Look to see if some of your transferable skills overlap with the current industry trends. In addition, see if these skills can work in other industries which leads me to the third and final step: don’t be myopic. You can work in more than one field. You can also have more than one competitive advantage. You don’t exclusively only have to have either hard skill or soft skill competitive advantages. In this global marketplace, you will need multiple competitive advantages in order to get hired.

By following these steps, you will increase your competitive advantage marketing capability.

This Week in Positive Change Management: Employing the Three Cs to Improve Your Personal Career Brand

Now more than ever it is imperative that any professional has a personal career brand. It is no longer, just do your job and update your resume. The average person will have in between 7-10 jobs in his lifetime. You must actively manage your career to find the next job; hence, the importance of creating and maintaining a stellar personal career brand. The three Cs are clarity, consistency, and constancy. They are necessary towards creating your best personal brand. The combination of these three guarantees that you’ll attract the people and employers in your target market.

Clarity

Dictionary.com defines clarity as ‘clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.’ It is essential that you get clear about who you are, but, more importantly, who you ARE NOT.  Clarity provides you with an opportunity to thrive as a specialist rather than merely survive as a generalist. It is better to know what you are not because you can create clear boundaries. You don’t want to transmit mixed messages, thereby, diluting your brand. Clarity communicates a clear message of what you do. For example, if you are in HR, you don’t want people coming to you about sales & marketing. The next step is to identify your competitors.

Scanning the professional landscape to see what your competitors are doing, and more importantly, what they are not doing is critical towards how you’ll position yourself to stand out. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes and capitalize upon the areas that they aren’t already in. Being the first mover in an unsaturated area, positions you to become an expert. For instance, if you’re in HR but there aren’t as many people working with newly returned war veterans, then this is a niche where you can employ your transferable skills and become an expert. Once you’ve used clarity to identify your competitors, you can then you can focus on marketing your competitive advantage to the world.

Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you do better than anyone else. Having a clear definition of this advantage will attract more people and opportunities. In HR, do you compile benefits packages in a way that new employee understand? Your ability to translate industry-specific jargon into layman’s terms without diluting its content is your competitive advantage. You can convert this into a special niche being seen as an expert. Once you’re seen as an expert, more people will come to you.

Consistency

Consistency is defined as ‘steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.’ In order to keep current in this increasingly global and competitive landscape, you must be consistent. This means consistently communicating the same message offline and online. Take some time to review how your professional brand comes across because it’s imperative that you are consistent in both areas.

Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile are the same. If you’ve attained a new certification or a promotion, list them on both. An outdated LinkedIn profile sends an inconsistent message. For example, if you’ve been promoted from HR Specialist to Senior HR Specialist, you must list this change. Recruiters who might be interested in you for one job, may not know that you have a new job or certification. It would be bad for your professional reputation if a recruiter contacts you about a specific position but learns that you’re in another position. Recruiters talk with other recruiters who might work at the company that interests you. You don’t want this kind of mistake to precede you before applying for a job. Putting the most recent information on your LinkedIn page guarantees that recruiters can see if you are the best fit for a potential job.

Constancy

Constancy is defined as ‘uniformity or regularity, as in qualities or conditions; invariableness.’ Being highly visible online & offline to your target market is indispensable. There are many ways to increase your visibility to ensure that the right people see your talents. Offline opportunities include joining meetups, alumni chapters, and professional organizations. In addition, you can be visible through business cards and stationery. Handing out your personal business cards is an effective marketing tool generating high visibility. Furthermore, you can send thank you letters using your own stationery. Regarding online visibility opportunities, you can register for LinkedIn professional groups, follow people on Twitter or like Facebook pages of companies of which you want to work. Moreover, you can also start a blog. Continuing with the HR example, you can write about interviewing new applicants, dispensing benefits information, handling attrition and completing retirement packages.

Creating a Communication Plan to Incorporate the Three Cs

A great way to merge the offline and online visibility tools to achieve clarity, consistency and constancy is by creating a communications plan. Your plan manages how, what, why, when, and where to deploy your offline and online strategies. For instance, you decide to post weekly HR-related articles in your LinkedIn feed. This action achieves clarity (HR), consistency (on message) and constancy (weekly). Your communications plan ensures that you regularly do something constructive towards promoting your personal career brand. Incorporating three Cs of clarity, consistency and constancy guarantee increased demand for your personal career brand.