The Objective Is To Get The Job
I’m a big believer in stating your objectives right up front and in plain, straightforward language. So let’s begin by agreeing that the reason you’re reading this book, and the reason I wrote it, is to get you the job you want. Every sentence you’re about to read was written beneath a big sign reading “The Objective is to Get the Job.”
Of course, I’m not talking about just any job. I’m talking about the job that is tailor-made for you — your ideal job. And it’s out there waiting for you. The challenge is to find it and convince the employer that you’re also the perfect match for his needs — a win/win situation, if ever there was one.
In consulting (and in business), this would qualify as a classical marketing project. And perhaps this is the right place to share a bias and dispel any negative preconceived notions you may have about marketing and marketing strategy. After all, what we’re really doing here is marketing a product — YOU!
Do I really have to market myself?
By “marketing,” I don’t mean hyping, exaggerating, or selling someone something they didn’t know they needed. That’s a really unfortunate image the discipline has picked up over the years. It’s also important to distinguish between sales and marketing. I’ve heard “selling” defined as pushing what you have to your customers. That’s a bit limiting and disparaging, but it does capture the essential role of sales. (A kinder and more appropriate definition of sales might be “management of the customer interface.”) Marketing, by way of contrast, is figuring out what customers are going to need and finding a way to get it to them on terms that are satisfactory to both of you.
Notice that the primary focus in marketing is on customers’ future needs. These needs might not even be evident to the customer today. A good marketer can look in the rearview mirror and, with a little experience, figure out what the road ahead is going to look like. Of course, the customer is usually too close to today’s problems to really analyze what’s happening and project future requirements.
Once the future needs are identified, we’re going to have to figure out how to deliver a solution on terms that we can both live with.
Let me give you a real-life example. Many years ago, before HMOs and other health care management options became commonplace, I had occasion to work on a project for a hospital management company. Their revenues were slipping because of a trend toward shorter hospital stays and increased use of outpatient services. They wanted to look for ways to capture a greater share of the market in order to regain lost revenues, and they called in the “marketing experts” because they thought the problem might be solved by advertising or promoting their product with doctors or patients in a more effective way.
By the time we finished the project, my client was in the insurance business, offering a very attractive major medical plan to local employers and waiving deductibles and copayments when patients used their hospitals and medical staff.
That solution to the client’s business problem was a direct result of good marketing strategy. It anticipated a future need for affordable health care. It also shifted the customer focus from doctors and patients, who had little incentive to control costs, to employers, who were ultimately footing the bill and thus stood to realize a significant savings. And the client’s solution included a way to deliver its product and service on terms that were beneficial to both the various customer constituencies and themselves.
Sales, in this example, was the function charged with presenting the concept to the target audience (local employers) and managing the relationship between the hospital/insurance company and the customers. Sales was charged with taking the orders for what marketing had developed.
In a very real sense, the sales function is part of marketing. It’s the part charged with managing the interface and relationship with direct customers.
For your job search, you’re going to need to assume the role of head marketing strategist first. Later, after the strategies and plans are developed, you’ll shift gears and become the sales department. We’ll discuss all of this in the coming chapters. For now, let’s be sure we have the strategy right.
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