The following is the third in the series "Personal Branding For A Better Life," in which marketing expert Jim Joseph applies big brand marketing lessons to help you build a successful personal brand.
Once you define your brand, as I discussed in my article, "How To Brand Yourself To Live a Happier Life," positioning is the next natural step. Positioning is a summation of all the attributes you've selected for your brand. A positioning statement acts as a guidepost when it comes to making decisions in your life.
Positioning is one of the most misunderstood principles of marketing. Even experienced marketers often get it wrong and overcomplicate it. My approach is simply to make it understandable and actionable for your brand.
From a marketing perspective, positioning is the space you want to occupy in your customers' minds when they think about your brand. In personal branding, it's how you want others to feel about you, whether it's a boss, coworker, job interviewer, friend or partner.
Positioning is not a statement about you -- it's a statement that captures who you are. It's not a factual claim; but rather, an emotional reason for people to want to be around you. It should capture the essence of who you are and how you have defined your personal brand.
For example, the positioning of a big brand like Nike isn't "sports gear," which is a statement about what the brand makes and sells. Instead, the positioning of Nike captures how the brand makes customers feel. Instead of “sports gear,” it would be more like “motivates the weekend warrior.” That statement is much more emotional and descriptive of what the brand does for customers and ties directly to the brand's tagline “Just Do It!”
You can take the same approach using the personal attributes you outline as part of your brand definition to craft a positioning statement that captures how you want people to feel about you.
I'll use myself as an example. I'm what you might call, "a builder and a fixer." I've spent my entire career building brands and organizations, fixing and addressing their marketing challenges to help them grow. I like to think of myself the same way in my personal and family life as well. While my positioning statement is fact-based, it also has a sense of emotion to it.
This positioning statement then becomes an effective way to describe who you are to others.
Next time you are in a job interview and the interviewer says, "Tell me about yourself," you can lead in with a short, descriptive, and powerful positioning statement. Imagine how convincing and confident you will sound. A positioning statement is so much more effective than droning on and on about every career move you've made. It captures your essence and let's people instantly know what you are all about.
Next comes your elevator pitch, which is an extension of the positioning statement. This provides a little more detail. The term "elevator pitch" comes from the notion that you should be able to tell your story to someone in the length of time it takes to ride an elevator. If you can't convince someone in that amount of time, they will tune you out. The elevator pitch is short, to the point, and ladders up to the positioning statement you've created.
For my own elevator pitch, I would describe how I started my career in classic brand management at Johnson & Johnson, learned the fundamentals of branding, then went on to start my own marketing services agency, which I later sold to a much larger organization in order to advance my career. Through the years, I've led agencies covering the entire marketing mix and in each case have expanded their capabilities to better serve a growing client mix. I've built an extensive array of marketing skills, and many a brand along the way.
This is short and to the point, yet illustrates the components that make up my positioning statement.
Ding! Just arrived at my floor! Now it's your turn. What do your positioning statement and elevator pitch look like?
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.