“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” Your brand and ultimately your runway will be defined by originality, not imitation.
At a framework, one of the first things we focus on with new clients is to build out a persona of a brand. Although the process is simple and timeless, the conversations and work can be brutal and eye-opening.
There are three attributes that converge to create persona (Hint, they aren't Young. Hot. Cheap):
Differentiators / Value Proposition
Passions / Skills
Audience / Clients
Why is branding YOU important? Check out the article below "Young. Hot. Cheap. That's not a Brand" from August 2017:
quote credit: Judy Garland
Recent conversation with a well respected General Manager and News Director was eye opening and direct. As we talked about insights and trends in the industry, the conversation led to mid-career moves either up market or renewals and specifically about representation and talent agents. We both agreed that the people strategies ruling the business for nearly 50 years has changed. Cheese has been moved. Paradigms shifted. Traditional channels shrinking, consolidating, and even disappearing.
I shared my thoughts around the proliferation of digital platforms and increased visibility of the marketplace. He said "yeah, definitely impacting the business but not much effect on our hiring strategies. Today we are hiring young, hot, and cheap". There, he said it. Everyone knows it, no one talks openly about but it's become pervasive as the industry continues to change as a result of digital disruption.
If hiring strategy has become young, hot, and cheap, never has been your personal brand been more important to your career. Unless of course you are young, hot, and work cheap then you don't need a brand. You simply sell your soul and pay an agent 8% of your hard earned annual salary, for the life on your agreement.
Think for a moment about how crowded the industry space is in which you work today. How many around you are waiting for your to fail, or even stumble just for a second so they can move ahead of you. Then think about the thousands of "young, hot, and cheap" recent graduates entering the market every single year.
How about this:
Mizzou J-School is about to graduate 600-700 seniors in May.
Medill has 350 grad students that can hardly wait to take your seat.
Columbia has ~ 1,000 applicants (and the Masters program is 70% female, sorry ladies, your competition will be fierce).
In a nutshell, there is more than 1,000 entering into your industry in the next 9 months that completely get it. They will build highly interactive social media networks literally overnight via YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. They will affiliate with your audience (25% of which are millennial) on ways that you don't today. How will you know who they are? They are the ones on their mobile phone "liking" and "retweeting" conversation with YOUR audience. They are brand builders by nature.
You can certainly set yourself apart from a recent college grad because you've worked on the skills and competencies in your personal toolbox. The greatest differentiators occur because of your experiences and these experiences should become the foundation of YOUR brand.
As we build out personal brand road maps for broadcast, digital, and multimedia talent, we discovered that the greatest challenge and the biggest rewards come through identifying what differentiates. It's only when you go through a brutally honest internal and external value proposition exercise do the attributes of your brand begin to emerge.
About Mike McNamara:
Mike has held C-Suite, Executive and Senior Sales, Marketing, Business Development, and General Management roles with Equifax, Cox Enterprises, WW Grainger, and Federal-Mogul Corporation. Mike has led sales, service and operations organizations of over 1,500 associates and accountable for P&L responsibility in excess of $250M.
Dedicated to giving back, Mike formed The MBAR Group in 2009 with the sole intent of providing pro bono career and business consulting services to underprivileged and under-served markets. Today as founder | CEO of TalentBlvd, he coaches a number of high profile executives and media personalities as well as holding advisory board positions guiding a number of multimedia and small business startups.
Mike earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University. He is a past chapter President of the American Marketing Association. Mike and family split time between their adopted state of Missouri and family home in NW Michigan where their philanthropic causes include The Kingdom House - St Louis, BACN in Benzonia, MI., and Samaritan’s Purse, Boone NC.