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4S Model: Steps

The final S of the 4S Model is Steps:  taking the steps to actually move the new, prepared you towards your career goals and aspirations.  The first three (Self, Surroundings, Skills) are about knowing yourself, understanding the environment in which you operate, and assessing and improving your unique skill set.  The fourth S is about creating your personal marketing plan.

Since the 1960s, the discipline of marketing has described the elements of marketing as the Four Ps:  product, price, place, and promotion.  These elements can be used to guide the creation of your personal marketing plan.

Product

You are the product, the value-added service that's being delivered in exchange for compensation (your salary, commission, benefits, and other forms of pay).  It includes both the initial transaction (getting a job or a new client) and the continued service and follow-up after the sale (your continued performance that at least meets expectations).

To be successful in your career development, you must consider how what you provide is unique in the marketplace.  Think back to Self, Surroundings, and Skills, and consider what differentiates you from other candidates and employees.

Price

Price is the amount someone is willing to pay for your services.  Your compensation may include salary, bonus, commission, benefits, flexible work schedule, and more.

If you are currently working, you may receive an annual "total compensation statement" that includes salary, benefits, etc.  This can be a helpful guideline, but consider this alternative calculation:  the cost of the benefits that you use or expect to use if you had to purchase them yourself.  Typically companies receive a group rate or volume discount that may not be available to you as an individual purchaser.

It's almost never a good idea to compete on price.  Companies that are successful competing on price usually have high transaction volume.  As an individual, your transaction volume is extremely limited.  Also, once you compete on price, you've changed the way the purchaser of your services views you into something more transactional and less value-added. This can mean smaller raises in compensation for your services going forward.

Place

In the context of the 4S Model, Place is how employers and purchasers of your services learn about your qualifications and locate you - it's your distribution network.  Some examples include your daily work interactions, networking events, social media activities, and volunteer activities outside of work.

Be consistent in your behavior, regardless of where you are.  With the rise of social media and the Internet, what did Friday night may be more visible than the great work you did on a project Monday morning.

Promotion

Promotion includes all of the ways you communicate with the marketplace.  In marketing, there are four general areas included in promotion:  advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion.

  • Advertising is the communication you either pay for or use to promote yourself in a targeted way.  One example is paying for LinkedIn's premium services.  Another is to engage a placement service.  Your beautifully designed resume, in chronological order, checked for spelling and grammar, concise, and tailored for each open job for which you post, is the most important piece of advertising you'll create.  Second to your resume are the cover letters you write that introduce you to the prospective employer.  You may consider having business cards printed, depending on your targeted industry or function, but typically there are better ways to connect.
  • Public relations are communications you don't pay for, and tend to be more general in terms of target.  Local media mentions and quotes, conference presentations, conference presentations and speaking opportunities, and call outs for your work in the nonprofit world are some examples.
  • Personal selling is the person-to-person interactions you make with the intent of growing professionally.  Interviews, career conversations with your manager and others, and the connections you've made throughout your network are parts of personal selling.  Every conversation you have - and that others have about you - falls into this category.
  • Sales promotion describes methods and approaches that can be used to drive a short-term action on the part of another.  In the career world, this might include working for free to get a foot in the door, job shadowing, or positioning one job offer against another to create a sense of urgency around employers wanting your unique skill set.

Promotion is about branding yourself in a particular way, positioning yourself as unique in the workforce, and behaving in a way that is consistent to all current and future stakeholders in your success.

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