Once upon a time, our value to companies was linked to our loyalty and longevity. We wore the corporate uniform, knew how many steps it would take to get to the top, and received a nice pension plan when we retired after 30 years of loyal service.
But the days of corporate uniforms and pension plans are long gone. And with them, job security. Today, as marketing professionals in the new world of work, we need to manage our own careers. And we must do so in the midst of budget cuts, layoffs and restructuring.
So how do you navigate this challenging terrain and make it to the top of the marketing ladder, skipping a few rungs? The answer seems too obvious: use the same marketing strategies and techniques you have been using for your company to manage your own career. After all, no one is better equipped than a marketing executive to apply the principles of marketing and branding to advance their career success and satisfaction.
We all know the benefits of a strong brand, including charging a premium for your products and services; extending into new business areas; thriving during economic downturns, etc.
Don't you want those same benefits for your career? Well to do so, you need to apply the key principles of branding to yourself. You must differentiate yourself from others with similar skills and abilities by clearly highlighting your unique promise of value. And you must consistently communicate that promise of value to your specific target audience.
Here are examples of how a couple of our marketing colleagues have used their personal brands to stand out and build strong positions inside their companies.
Nancy, Marketing Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA): Nancy is a European Marketing Director. And what separates Nancy from all of her colleagues is her passion for relationships.
Nancy builds strong relationships: relationships with her team; relationships with the sales team; relationships with customers. She says, “Business IS relationships.”
Nancy started the customer relationship and loyalty initiative in her company without a budget or resources to do it. She made it happen because of her fervent belief in the power of relationships. Nancy also started special teleconferences with business partners and alliances so that she could strengthen connections with this group of people who are critical to extending her company's brand.
And Nancy works just as hard at building relationships inside the company. She invites the sales team to her EMEA marketing meetings. And she even takes her team out to the pub every time there is an opportunity to celebrate. Because for someone who is so passionate about relationships, she couldn't imagine leading a team that didn't have strong bonds.
Managing a strong core of business relationships makes people want to support her, because she supports them. This foundation of strong relationships allows Nancy to be effective during times of workplace volatility and has earned her the respect of senior management. When something needs to get done that involves managing delicate relationships, Nancy is called in to help.
Brandy--Advertising Account Executive: Brandy is an advertising account executive. But she's not your run-of-the-mill account executive. Brandy is a self-proclaimed nut.
Brandy is a BRAND. A strong brand. Because Brandy isn't afraid to be herself. Brandy arrives at the office with her Barbie lunch pail. She brings her pen with its pink fuzzy top to all meetings. She starts all meetings that she leads with hard-to-believe, true-life story. She sings in the hallways. And she succeeds, not despite this, but because of this. Brandy makes work fun.
Everyone wants to be in her meetings which are always productive and come with a large dose of fun. She has carved out a place for herself. And has built a tremendous reputation and career security. Her manager reversed a department decision and allowed her to work part-time after she had a baby. She gets the best assignments because clients want to work with her. She has lines of applicants outside her office when she has announced an opening on her team. And when the layoff lists are being made, her name is never on them.
Brandy is in control of her career because she uses her strengths and what makes her unique to stand out. That works for Brandy, because it is authentic. It IS Brandy. Your promise of value will be quite different from Brandy's; there's only one Brandy. And it will be different from Nancy's too, because there is only one Nancy.
But remember, there is only one YOU. So uncover what makes you unique and build a plan to exude it. After all, it is only a matter of time before all of our marketing colleagues have jumped on the personal "Brandwagon." Don't you want to be in the driver's seat when they get on?
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