How to improve your Personal Branding with Perceptual Maps

In this instructional video, I show you how to apply a popular tool in brand marketing to your personal brand. Once you understand how you are positioned compared to other job candidates, or your co-workers, or your classmates, you can identify gaps to fill and make real progress. This video teaches the fundamentals of personal branding in addition to the personal branding application. Below the video, I have included a complete transcript of the video. If you are interested in learning how other marketing tools can be applied to personal brands, please leave a comment.

Brand Yourself for a Job Interview with Perceptual Maps

Transcript of Scott's Personal Branding with Perceptual Maps Video

You know how in every interview they ask you about your strengths and you always wonder if your answer is too bland?

Hey, what's up y’all? This is Scott Davis and in this video, I'm going to help you strengthen your personal brand using perceptual mapping from marketing.

First, let's have a quick primer using a product brand. We'll talk about Nike. So we're drawing our perceptual map and we have two lines dividing our map into four parts. One thing we need to do is label these axes with brand attributes that are important to customers, so again these are going to be customer perceptions of these attributes. For this example, let's go with price and quality, the most common and boring design.

So price is going to be our horizontal axis going from high price to low price, quality will be our vertical axis going from high quality to low quality. Okay we're using Nike, so let's think about how Nike fits into this price and quality map based on our intuition. Maybe in a real setting we actually collected surveys from customers and we know Nike fits about here on relative price and quality. Now as Nike, we want to know our position compared to competition.

Let's just look at Adidas and New Balance. So on this map Nike seems to be in good position relative to these competitors, providing more premium quality, but they may not win business from price conscious shoppers. One problem with this perceptual map that may have jumped out at you is that quality is pretty fuzzy and there are a lot of things that go into determining perceived quality. What should we focus on if we want to move higher in quality?

Let's draw one more map for Nike with comfort and fashion as our attributes. Assume through surveying we learned that these are the two major determinants of quality for sneakers. Now this is useful. I can see how Nike compares to Adidas and New Balance on these critical attributes. Perhaps this view even reveals opportunity to compete with New Balance in certain customer segments that are focused comfort over design.

Okay, so you have the basics of perceptual maps, now how can you use it for your personal brand? Let's start by sticking to price and quality for our first map. In an interviewing process, price is going to be expected salary, that is, what the employer thinks you'll be paid if you take the job. Quality is again fuzzy for us here like it was for Nike. We know high quality is good but how can I become a better quality candidate? I'm probably clustered in with several other candidates who have similar salary requirements and overall quality perceptions. Now we don't know who the other candidates are but it's safe to assume that the salary range is not an area of differentiation since we all made the interview cut. Quality is too vague to address directly but we want to somehow move higher in perceived quality by our customers, in this case the interviewers are the customers.

The interview is your chance to differentiate yourself on the attributes that matter to this company. When they inevitably ask you about strengths or guide you down a path that allows you to discuss strengths, you should recognize that as an opportunity to move away from the cluster. There are many ways to find out what attributes matter to the company or a hiring manager before your interview. You can paste the job description into word cloud software and talk around the highest frequency words, you could look at the LinkedIn profile of the hiring manager and try to figure out what skills they have or look at how they describe their job or their past jobs.

For this example, I'm going to look at the culture page on the company's website. Most companies have these, especially big companies. So you're interviewing with Netflix and you're looking for cultural elements that resonate with you, align to your personal strengths, and are uncommon, areas for differentiation. On this list, I like curiosity and courage, you may like other attributes. Now you don't need to speak in these terms precisely but for each one you should be able to tell a compelling story. For curiosity, I might discuss how my last company had growing sales but I felt like we weren't optimizing, so I took initiative to run some experiments and A/B testing to see if our website should be organized differently. What I'm trying to do is present myself as an eager learner to align with the curiosity cultural value.

For courage, maybe you challenged your manager on a critical issue and you ultimately helped the company and your manager. Okay, I'm being super vague here because I'm making these up but you want to be specific. Quantify your impact. So now that you've done this, you identified two strengths that align perfectly to the culture at this company and you had specific illustrative stories. How much better is that going to be for you then, “well I'm a team player and I take on challenging projects” and then you're kind of waiting for them to ask you for more information. That's not the way you want to approach the interview.

All right, well thank you for watching. It really means a lot to me. I hope that I make many more videos like this. If you did enjoy the video please share it and please leave a comment and if you didn't enjoy the video, you can leave a comment as well.

Thank you.