10 steps to powerful personal marketing

Personal marketing uses commercial and social marketing principles to help us succeed at goals we have chosen for ourselves. It’s powerful stuff that can really help your life. But the following feedback from a reader made me realize that some of you may be feeling overwhelmed about how and where to begin. This article shows you how to find that starting point, and then how to continue step-by-step to develop a great ad to influence yourself.

I looked at the site a few times previously and thought it was pretty interesting and made a lot of sense but I didn’t spend a lot of time there because I was in surf-mode (usually at work). But because I was intrigued I would periodically keep going back to it, and each time I would think, “Wow, this is great stuff! But there’s so much to read and I don’t have time.” So I have taken away bits and pieces (the gorilla is a great example) but just keep feeling like I didn’t have the time to read everything I want to and get a good grasp on where to start. So it ends up on my never-ending, ever-growing To Do List.

If anyone else is feeling like that, the ten steps below will show you exactly how to apply a marketing mindset to achieving your own goals. Want a short-cut? Try just doing #1, #6, and #9 for your first ad.

If this is your first visit, you might want to read a couple of foundational articles before you begin to grok the concept of personal marketing. These three articles illustrate the problem with mental clutter, and why I believe advertising to yourself makes a difference.

How to get started with your own personal marketing campaign

1. Pick a goal

Personal marketing can help you with many different kinds of goals. To start this process, pick one that you’d most like to work on, such as:

  • Improve yourself mentally, physically or spiritually
  • Improve your relationships with other people
  • Go someplace you’d love to, across the world or in your home town
  • Get a better job, or perform better at the one you have
  • Acquire a tangible object such as a house, or make the one you already have into more of a home
  • Do something else you dream of that’s a bit (or a lot) of a stretch for you

Can’t decide? Here’s a way to figure it out fast. Shut your eyes and ask yourself, “If I won the lottery, I would ___________.” Your first answer to that question will give you an excellent clue about where to start changing your life. When you’ve chosen a goal, go on to step 2.

2. Analyze your situation

Next, take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the goal you have chosen? What resources do you bring to the table? Where will your challenges be? What factors outside yourself represent opportunities and threats to your success? What or who is your competition? What have you already tried? I think it’s helpful to write down your answers to these questions.

3. Research your target market (you)

Now we’ll look deeper, to find out what motivates you to succeed. This is where you throw out the shoulds – the things that should motivate you – and get real honest about the kind of things that actually DO get you moving. What do you care about? What are your biggest concerns? What do you fear? What do you enjoy? What and who are important influences on you? What do they want you to do? What do you see as the benefits of achieving this goal? What do you see as barriers? Again, it’s helpful to write your answers.

For more about this topic see Target market research (it’s all about you).

4. Decide how to position your change

Based on what you’ve learned in the previous two steps, select a strategy for positioning your goal. For example, exercising could be positioned as being fun, practicing discipline, making you more attractive, or saving your life. You need to decide which one is most likely to work with the person you’ve been writing about above. It’s important to pick ONE approach and use it consistently in all of your marketing efforts. You want to brand this behavior change in your mind as being all about the position you have chosen. My exercise campaign is a good example of positioning.

You’ll probably find it helpful to read a few articles in the Hierarchy of Needs or Psychology of Persuasion series to get ideas. The task for this step is to read those articles, then let your subconscious mind take over for a few days until you have a good idea. When you’ve decided on a strategy, move on to step 5.

5. Tweak the elements you can control

The classic elements of marketing are Product, Price, Place and Promotion – called the four P’s. These represent all of the variables you have control over in a given marketing task. Before deciding how to promote your goal to yourself, first do everything you can to sweeten the offer by tweaking the first three P’s. Think about how you could increase the benefits and reduce the barriers you identified in step 3 above by challenging assumptions you’re making about what you want to do, what you must give up to get it, and where you will do it. For example,

  • You really want to buy a new house, but anything in the area you want to live is way outside your price range. So you begin to consider a different neighborhood, or buying a fixer-upper. (Product)
  • You schedule an extra 30 minutes when you go to the gym so you have time to reward yourself with a sauna. (also Product)
  • You hate to get up early in the morning to exercise. It’s always a struggle. You suffer. So you try scheduling workouts in the evening instead. (Price)
  • You know your life would go better if you meditated regularly, so you spend an afternoon creating a lovely little sanctuary in the corner of your bedroom. (Place)

Steps 6-9 are about the fourth P – Promotion. However, what you want to do in this step is make promotion less necessary because the offer you’re making – to the person you are – is a very good fit.

6. Take (or find) a picture of your goal

If at all possible, take a picture of yourself that looks like your goal is already achieved. This image will start getting your mind used to that reality. Check out the Put yourself in the picture series for ideas and instructions about both technical and non-technical ways to get that picture.

A tool that really helps is the Joby Gorillapod – an inexpensive flexible tripod that makes it easy to take photos of yourself in almost any situation. It comes in several sizes; one of them is appropriate for any camera.

7. Write a slogan

This step is optional, but it’s quite effective. In fact, you can make a pretty good ad that’s only text. Write a slogan for your ad that embraces the positioning you selected in step 4. See the articles Punch up your headline with Phrases that Sell and Target your hierarchy of needs – part 2 for tips about writing slogans. How to write an effective ad on a Post-It note has some helpful suggestions, too.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Phrases That Sell, a $10 book that really makes it easy to choose powerful language for your ad.

8. Produce your ad

Next transform the picture you took and the (optional) slogan you wrote into a form you can use for an ad. The time required to complete this step can vary from a couple of minutes to several hours, depending on how elaborate you want to get. For example, you might just print the picture and write your slogan on it by hand. On the other hand, Put yourself in the picture with Photoshop gives directions for producing a more technically complicated ad. Check out the category How to make ads for a lot of other ideas.

Steps 8 and 9 are closely related, since how you produce your ad will depend on the delivery system you choose. I think the most important part is the tangible act of engaging in the process, so please don’t worry at all about perfection.

9. Set up a system to automatically deliver your ads.

The important thing about your delivery system is to choose a method that’s “set and forget”. That is, once you’ve set it up you don’t have to do anything further to expose yourself to the message several times a day. Keep in mind that you don’t have to DO anything to receive messages from Sprint or Nike. Your ads should be like that too.

If you want to start with an easy delivery system set the ad you made in step 8 as your computer’s screensaver or background wallpaper, or just print it out and tape to the refrigerator or the wall in front of your toilet.

10. Evaluate and adjust

After you’ve run your ads for a few weeks, check in with yourself to see if you need to make any adjustments. Take a look at both the results you’re getting, and the gut feeling you get when you encounter the ads. Either can suggest that you’re on the right track, or that you need to try a different approach.

Even if you’ve responded well to a campaign, it’s effective to freshen it once in awhile. See my How I got an RV with my most successful ad campaign for an example of a very aggressive campaign that evolved over a year and a half. Don’t worry – you don’t usually need to work nearly that hard to get good results!

Bottom line

This stuff works if you make time to do it. The first step is to choose a goal. Now. Then sign up for my RSS feed and I’ll nudge you with new ideas once a week to keep you moving on steps 2-10.

This entry was posted in Deliver your message, How to make ads, Marketing strategies, Personal marketing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted May 27, 2008 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    When it comes to marketing you must always remember your target audience. Give the consumer what they want, make your target audience want your product. Be sure to express your ideas to the audience in clear and effective ways. If your target audience is pleased with what they see and/or hear then your product will be a success.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted April 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    As well as taking your own photos, sites like iStockPhoto.com are a great place to find photos to use (you’re just using them for yourself, so the samples with the water-mark should be good enough).

    These are the kind of photos used in lots of professional ads, so the quality is really high.

3 Trackbacks

  • By 7 Steps For Effective Marketing on May 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    […] 10 steps to powerful personal marketing – How to get started with your own personal marketing campaign. The ten steps below show you exactly how to apply a marketing mindset to achieving your own goals. Want a short-cut? Try just doing #1, #6, and #9 for your first ad. … […]

  • […] 10 steps to powerful personal marketing – How to get started with your own personal marketing campaign. The ten steps below show you exactly how to apply a marketing mindset to achieving your own goals. Want a short-cut? Try just doing #1, #6, and #9 for your first ad. … […]

  • […] Personal marketing is based on a simple idea: We can borrow the techniques that commercial marketers use to shape our behavior, and use them to influence ourselves instead. Personal marketing combines the classic strategies and tactics of commercial marketing with the power that personal technology provides individuals to create and deliver media, and uses them to include our own ads in the flood of persuasive messages that surrounds us every day. […]

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