Just as they should require finance and accounting courses for the members of the other professions in this world, they probably should require more marketing classes for the members of our profession.
The question we are always trying to address, whether we are looking for work or currently employed is: Who are our real customers and what is it we are selling them?
This isn’t a question that is as easy to answer as it might appear. Not being marketing professionals we often mistake cause and effect. What is it we do for the rest of the organization? Unless you are always thinking in marketing terms your “product offering” is not going to be well received because you haven’t defined what it is you are selling.
Saying you are a Chief Financial Officer may not give a complete snapshot of who you are. That is just a title that may or may not describe to the person to whom you are talking what it is you really do every day.
For example, I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency. I have also been the top financial guy in various publishing divisions. What you do in those environments is very different than what one might do in say a manufacturing or real estate environment. What I do that is a little unique is that in those environments I try to make accounting and finance issues understandable to all levels of management. I have found that I can empower the very talented individuals who inhabit these kinds of organizations by getting them to understand the “measurements” under which they have to live. They in turn have been kind enough to teach me how they think about the business. It can be a happy marriage indeed.
To be successful in an environment of egos as big as all outdoors isn’t for the faint of heart. But, it is what I do best. It is one of the reasons that I am enjoying a reasonable amount of success in my consulting practice. I tend to believe in the knowledge of others and I can find ways to build on their ideas. Dealing mostly with our alumni members, this is actually pretty easy because they are a knowledgeable bunch who typically have ideas in need of implementation. I can provide them with hard to get resources on short notice. This is what I sell.
As you review that resume over which you have slaved so many hours, what is it telling the world that you are trying to sell? Does the sales pitch jump off the page?
The process of creating your resume and 90-second elevator speech needs to be viewed in developmental stages. The first stage is getting your background and achievements down on paper. The second stage is polishing the prose. The third and final stage is ensuring that the “sell” is coming through.
This is the hardest part. Most of you can document your work history. Most of you can polish your prose. With a little help, you can even build a good public presentation of these facts. The marketing of your background is a little harder.
What are the things that are unique about you and are you using them to the greatest effect? If you have graduated from a top MBA program, is that highlighted? If you have worked for a well known and well respected firm, does that jump off the page? Do you talk about it? (Of course, in modest terms.)
To be successful in this final phase you need the help of others. I have often been surprised to a degree by my friends and business associates when they point out what should be the obvious to me about my background.
You can also get this benefit by seeking out the advice of others. Pick associates who know you and whose judgments you trust and ask them what they think you do best.
You may be surprised by the answer. Now compare these newly acquired facts about yourself to the communications you are using and see if they measure up to the new you.
You will find it is a much more powerful delivery than the mere listing of factual information you had before. (Marketing is actually a lot easier than accounting and finance.)