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Marketing Plan: Give Your Job Search Direction

Enda Goodwin

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A sound, well-constructed personal marketing plan is key to ensuring that you focus on priority actions and avoid wasting time and energy on unproductive activities. As with any project, a good plan helps you organize and prioritize your work and keeps your productivity high. Your plan defines where you want to go and how you plan to get there. It also helps you target the types of organizations you plan to pursue. So take your time and give careful consideration to all the options.

Basically, there are four parts to creating a personal marketing plan. They are outlined below.

Professional objective with preferred function

What's your objective?

To get your marketing plan off to a good start, it's always a good idea to begin by asking a simple question: What is my objective?

Your professional objective is a concise phrase or sentence that describes the kind of work you are seeking. It should reflect your values, traits, skills, interests, overall experience and expertise in a way that is clearly understood by people inside and outside of your profession.

Preferred functions

After your professional objective, you will want to include your functions - the role or areas of work that fit your experience and interest. Normally, this consists of one or two words, and should include three to five targeted functions. Functions should be displayed as a list under the professional objective. You should be able to name job titles typical of these functions and combinations of them.

Here are some examples:

Marketing management
  • strategy development
  • market research
  • product development
Senior banker
  • commercial banking
  • compliance
  • branch banking
  • asset management
  • special asset liquidation
Senior electrical design engineer
  • telecom and datacom
  • product development
  • leading hardware teams
Human resources generalist
  • organization development in turnaround companies
  • staffing
  • compensation and benefits
  • coaching

Your positioning statement

Your positioning statement is used in conversations throughout your search.  You’ll use it in networking meetings, emails, phone calls, and of course, on interviews.  It is the response to: "Tell me about yourself."

Your Positioning Statement contains these four basic elements:

  1. Profession: State your professional identity in the present tense. “I am a marketing executive.”
  2. Expertise: State the competencies and skills that qualify you for that kind of work.
  3. Types of organizations: Summarize the environments or organizations in which you have worked, such as Fortune 100 company, small consulting firm, not-for-profit organization.  You might also mention other types of activities, such as teaching, participation on boards, or other leadership roles.
  4. Unique strengths:  Articulate the qualities that help you stand out from others in your field, such as exceptional problem solving skills, unique technical knowledge, or specialties.

An example of a good positioning statement is: "I am an information systems specialist focusing on the application of technology to business functions in the area of marketing, sales, manufacturing, logistics and accounting. I have worked with a Fortune 500 firm as well as a small entrepreneurial business. I am now serving as an adjunct professor at Oxbridge College. My strengths include data administration, strategic planning, data warehousing, and relational database design, development and implementation."

Now you can craft a brief statement that conveys your professional objective, key qualifications, and uniqueness for use in conversations.  Practice it aloud, so that you can call it up whenever you want to. 

Target market

What's your target market?

Your target market defines the types of organizations you plan to pursue. Your criteria for defining your target market needs to include the following four elements:

  1. Geographic location: The first criterion in identifying your target market is geographic location. Will you pursue all relevant companies in the country of your choice? Or are you limiting yourself to commuting distance of your current residence? Location is determined by personal preferences and by market demand. Define your geographic preference in a way that it can be drawn on a map, like a sales territory.
  2. Industry or type of organization: The second criterion is industry, or type of organization. Again, part of this is a matter of personal preference. For some, the professional objective and qualifications dictate the industry. A metallurgist will work in primary metals and metal products. Another critical factor is how much your past experience will determine if you will be seen as a strong candidate. A financial professional with manufacturing experience is seen as a strong candidate in manufacturing.
  3. Size of organization: The size of an organization is usually defined either in terms of annual revenue or number of employees. Size is a matter of personal preference, and it can be a critical factor. Below a certain size, a company may not have the position you are seeking. For example, a company of only 200 employees is not likely to hire an HR director for six figures.
  4. Organizational culture (optional): Organization culture is sometimes a factor in determining a target market. Generally, however, it is not used to determine the initial list, but to help prioritize the target companies. For some, the only concern is that resources are available to do the work they like to do, and culture is irrelevant. Others have a strong personal preference about culture.

How large should your target market be?

The size of your target market will vary with the above criteria. To check on the size, scope and likelihood of landing in your target market, consider these elements:

  • Geographic location of organization: stated precisely enough that you could draw it on a map, like a sales territory.
  • Industry or type of organization: identified by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.
  • Size of organization: stated in annual revenue, number of employees or other measures appropriate to your industry or profession.
  • Organizational culture: stated concretely enough to research targets (e.g. an organization with more than 20% women at all levels or an organization that routinely uses cross-functional teams).

Target list

What are your top 50 target organizations?

Don't guess – identify your target organizations using your criteria. Research and stay informed about them. Read, ask questions, and listen. Use the research and databases on CRN to build your initial list of 50 organizations. Then refine your target list and interview for information. 

Evaluating your target market

When is your target market large enough? This is the critical question, because when a target market is too small, it can make your search longer. Once you have estimated the number of openings that might be available, the questions are: How many openings a month are enough? When is the target market large enough? When does it need to be expanded?

These are questions without simple answers because there are many considerations that must be factored into the equation. Following are some general guidelines.

If the number of openings per month are:

  • 10 or less: seriously consider expanding your target market.
  • 10 to 50: your target market is probably large enough.
  • Over 50: you have defined a target market that is large enough and you may need to select a smaller segment for a starting point.
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