Unemployed 2009-Go to Market For You

Over the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to be the featured speaker to several different groups of unemployed professionals.  The audiences have included folks that specialize in accounting, financial services, engineering, software programming, customer experience, information technology, marketing, and law. Each individual is at a very different point in their job search.   They attend these meetings for peer support, networking opportunities and hopes to learn something that will accelerate their career transition. Based on feedback from this diverse group of attendees, the presentations focal point seems to resonate.

The primary message communicated is that, the job search process is complex.  To properly navigate the process,   individuals can systematically embrace the process corporations utilize to take a new product or service to market.  It’s simple in concept, but the logic is sound and the results are proven.   Individuals simply need to think of themselves as the product or service.  Corporations  launching a new product or service [or relaunching an old product or service] develope a thoughtful written plan that answers specific questions.  From there, action plans are created from the answers.

Highlighted below is an outline for creating a “go-to-market” strategic plan.  Although there are many variations of this framework, the high level questions apply to virtually every campaign.  As you read the questions, ask yourself, have you thoroughly vetted each of these points and reached logical conclusions with regard to your job search.  Be sure to think of yourself as the product or service that needs to achieve market penetration for success.  Here is a five point product planning outline.

1. Assess the Market 

What is the addressable market? 

This is a detailed assessment of the current conditions, the market size and smaller sub markets within the market as a whole.  This is an important concept because an individual should not think about the total unemployment figure in the newspaper.  Instead they should focus on the market for their specific skill set.

What are the current trends? What factors are impacting the supply and demand?  Which segments will grow and which will contract in the future? 

For maximum success be sure to target growth markets.  By identifying trends you will uncover opportunities and be prepared to demonstrate your expertise. 

2. Competition

Who are the logical competitors today?   What are their relative strengths and weaknesses versus ours?  How will we differentiate ourselves today and in the future?

For a 2009 jobsearch, answering these questions is paramount.  There are simply to many qualified people chasing the same opportunities.  To many “elevator pitches” tend to sound the same even though each indiviudal has characteristics and achievements that can be used to differentiate.  Without differentiation, why should someone hire you versus another candidate?

3. Define your Positioning and  Go-to-Market plan

What value does your product or service bring to the end user?  What is your brand and your brand messaging?  How will you reach your potential end user?  Have you thought through all the potential channels to sell your product or service? Once reached, how will you  concisely, and in a compelling manner, convince your end user of the value you bring?  Have you properly addressed all the marketing mediums that your target uses?  (Internet, email, print collateral etc..)

For a 2009 job-search, the concept of personal branding is critical.  It is essential to express who you are, what you stand for and how you can add value.  An individual needs to clearly articulate their uniqueness and ability to solve a problem for the potential hiring manager.  There are many ways to get your message out.  Emails, personal websites, phone calls, coffees, blogs, trade shows, networking groups etc…  LinkedIn, Facebook, Spoke, Plaxo and Xing are great on-line channels to expand your reach and messaging quickly.  Associations and trade groups are fabulous for targeting specific job disciplines. Leveraging technology is very important, but always remember face to face meetings create stronger bonds that drive behavior.

4. Track, measure, adjust

Set up a plan to track your campaign, measure your efforts and constantly adjust your plan based on feedback and results.

Just like companies use tools like Salesforce.com, Google analytics or other CRM (customer relationship management) systems, so should anyone going through career transition.  Data doesn’t lie and it creates discipline as well as insight. Set minimum metrics.  An example could be 10 outbound calls, 10 outbound emails and 2 face-to-face meetings per day.  You could also track actual interviews and measure them as sales calls.  How many sales calls does it take to sell a product or serivce?  What if there are lots of competing brands creating options for the buyer?

5. Critical Initiatives

What are the critical initiatives?  There are always lots of things to do, but typically there are only a few mission critical initiatives that are necessary for success.   

Many job seekers today simply log onto a major job board, scan the positions, read an article or two, wordsmith their resumes and consider it a complete job search day.  So much more is needed. Individuals need to focus on the areas most critical to success. 

 In a 2009 job search, there are 3 areas that apply to everyone and thus merit considerable time, thought and focus.

  •  Create a complete personal branding and marketing plan that includes all marketing collateral.  Have professional business cards, a resume/CV, an on-line identity and a crisp presentation for meetings. No sales professional would ever walk into a presentation with only an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper. Why would you?.  After all, this could be the most important product presentation of your life.

 

  •  Target, target, target. A broad job search does not work in today’s market. Individuals must identify their target companies/opportunities and concentrate their time & focus their marketing plan on reaching these targets. If you ask someone for job search help, its often hard to help.  If you ask someone for a connection or information about a specific company, it’s often much easier to provide assistance.

 

  •  Network aggressively and through multiple channels.  In many respects, networking has never been easier.  Services like LinkedIn have taken the concept of six degrees of separation and, through clever algorithims, created views into relationship links that might never have been previously discovered.  It is possible to expand your network faster than ever before.  Individuals need to carefully combine the use of the Internet, email, telephone and face-to face communications into their marketing plan.

Have you embraced a strucutre similar to the one outlined in this article?  Do you have a well conceived, written, go to market plan for you (G2M4U)? 

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”

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