Any product that goes on the market has already been well researched. How should the product be packaged? Will people buy it? Is it appealing to the target market? Don’t worry, you definitely have something to sell — you just might need some help to determine your best marketing approach.
So, it’s time to put your liberal arts education to use! A career transition –– whether a new job or a new career — should be approached like a research project. How do you know what employers will buy unless you survey the market?
Let’s say you wanted to learn everything you can about sustainable energy. You could:
- Investigate trends, issues and developments in this area.
- Interview experts in the field.
- Connect with alumni working in the field.
- Investigate sustainable energy company websites.
- Analyze ads/online postings to determine the in-demand skill sets for sustainable energy.
- Expand your network to include industries and professions related to sustainable energy, e.g., green building, energy conservation, etc.
Attend a sustainable energy conference or professional organization meeting.
As you gather this market research, you’ll need to tweak your marketing materials (market position, resume and cover letters), and prepare a target list of organizations or companies that you’d like to contact directly.
Your marketing research goal is to identify the top 50 organizations/companies with which you’d like to work. This will help give your research project some structure and focus. Try to add a new organization daily.
Because your next step will be to get your marketing message out (this is called “advertising” when Nike does it), you’re going to need to build a network to help you with this market research.
It’s said that everyone knows at least 200 people — brainstorm your networking list using these ideas:
- Former work colleagues
- Current work colleagues
- Former professors, teachers, instructors
- Your veterinarian, lawyer, doctor, insurance agent, accountant, auto mechanic, real estate broker, etc.
- Self-employed professionals (they tend to be well-connected)
- Former clients or competitors
- Current clients or competitors
- Attendees and presenters at business meetings, trade shows and conventions
- Professional and trade association members
- Members from your place of worship
- Members from your athletic club or any other club • Instructors, trainers, coaches, counselors (hobbies, sports, etc.)
- Social acquaintances
- Networking groups
- Online acquaintances
- Any shop or business owner who knows you by name
- Family members
When you’re looking for a new hair stylist or an accountant, whom do you ask? If you’re like most people, you ask around to get referrals. Word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful –– don’t miss the opportunity to use it to your advantage.
How do you get people to talk about you? Simply let people know a little bit more about you. You don’t have to reveal your life story, but you can share your professional market position with almost anyone. The more people who know you and what’s unique about you, the easier word-of-mouth marketing will work for you. Effective messaging should carry over to your online social networking profiles, your resume, your cover letters and anything else that is a public version of the professional “you.”
10 Common Messaging Mistakes to Avoid
- Why are you looking? Be prepared to address this question in a professional, diplomatic way. How you position this can have a tremendous impact on your overall message. An exit statement should be brief, non-defensive, truthful and positive.
- When you deliver your market position, do people get it? Do they offer specific input? That’s a good sign. If your pitch is wrong, everything is wrong.
- Resist the urge to over-engineer your message. Consistency, visibility and clarity are key.
- “Outsider” perspective: It’s okay to be an outsider — someone trying to break into a field or industry — early on in your search. Your messaging should become consistent with what you’d expect from an insider.
- Google yourself: Is your messaging consistent with your online identity? Recruiters and hiring managers will Google you.
- Inactivity: Make your messaging even more effective by being an active member/volunteer in a professional industry organization related to your field.
- Skimpy cover letter: This can be one of the most powerful messaging tools you have. Make it work for you.
- Being too broad: Positioning yourself as someone who can do anything rarely excites a hiring team. They want someone who cares about their specific industry and organization.
- Is your pitch appropriate for your level of experience and expertise? If there’s a disconnect here, your market position isn’t going to work.
- Visibility: Increase your visibility through networking, volunteering and being more active. Your message needs a broad audience.