Here on the threshold of 2014, let’s imagine you’ve just written a book and it’s ready to bring to market. Your book is a niche product, and unlikely to be picked up by a mass-market publisher, so you self-publish as a print-on-demand book. Up it goes in the virtual bookstore – where it joins other niche books on an infinitely long virtual shelf, waiting to be noticed.
Planning to lose?
Making your book easily available on the web is a good thing. However, the down side of those easily accessible and infinitely long shelves is that the shelves are crowded, and becoming more crowded all the time. What are the odds your book will ever be found and picked?
“If you need to get picked from the shelf/slush pile/transom catch basin then you’ve already lost”, Seth Godin says in a recent post.
This holds true for any product. Imagine bringing yourself to market. You’ve posted your resumé to an online job board such as Monster, which hosts over a million resumés. You’ve created your profile on LinkedIn where it will join two hundred million other profiles. Yes, you can use tags and search terms to help people find you, but you’re still competing with hundreds and thousands of other candidates. You might just as well go sit on the park bench with Vladimir and Estragon.
Don’t rely on the shelf
If you want your product to stand out in a crowd, the best thing you can do – in fact the only thing you can do, Godin contends – is to put aside your dependence on being found on the shelf (or in the resumé bank, or on LinkedIn). Instead, go directly to the people who care about your product, and “be the one and only dominator in a category of one”.
Does that mean a job seeker has a better chance of finding a job by directly approaching the person who needs them and for whom they want to work? Yes, Virginia. The rules of marketing are not different when the product is yourself. A static Internet presence (such as a profile on LinkedIn, or a website) is important in that it does allow you to be found when the people who already know about your product are looking specifically for that product. However, a static Internet presence rarely leads to being found unless people are looking specifically for you.
If you want to be successful in selling yourself, get off the shelf, find a way to meet your customer and talk to them in their language – don’t wait for your customer to find you.
PS If you are tired of sitting on the shelf and want to approach your next job proactively, we can help – let’s talk!