How to Snuff Your Competition: Take a Cue from California’s anti-smoking marketing campaign

How to Snuff Your Competition
Take a cue from California’s anti-smoking marketing campaign –
and plan to snuff your competitors by using your Personal Brand.

In 1988, the State of California approved the controversial Proposition 99, a 25-cents-per-pack tax increase on cigarette sales. Twenty percent of the tax collected was funneled directly into an anti-tobacco advertising campaign.

Use your Personal Brand to differentiate
Essentially the way that cigarette companies feel about anti-smoking campaigns.

If you lived in or visited California in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper, turn on your radio or television, or step outside without bumping into the campaign. The ads personally attacked tobacco executives, showing them laughing at tobacco users and baiting children into smoking. The campaign massively impacted public opinion; statewide, the word “smoker” practically became a slur.

Affecting Perception
Even the most militant smokers had to admit the marketing worked. It was a Trojan Horse against Big Tobacco, leading to more legislation and heightening public discourse. Today, other states – and the World Health Organization – use the same kind of quasi-satirical billboards, commercials, and radio spots.

Looking back, several advertising and marketing analysts have commented that the campaign succeeded not just because of the quality of the response cue in each message, but because of widespread, long-term exposure.

Exposure Is Almost Everything
This full-bore marketing and advertising campaign offers a solid lesson for independent professionals: it shows how quality marketing, deployed properly and consistently, can change people’s behavior and promote new habits.

Wouldn’t you like to do the same through you marketing? You can.  You’ve got a message of your own, a domain of people you can help, and a single focused benefit to help them with.  The key is evoking a response through your proxy self – your Personal Brand. The best marketing is Personal Marketing that emotionally encourages people to change their behavior, and to respond to your message.

Selling Isn’t Everything
No, that can’t be right, you say.  The best marketing convinces people with an empirical argument, a logical argument – just like a sales presentation.  Not quite.  The reason is, people don’t want to be sold anything.  We are wary of being sold to; rather, we want to choose to buy.  What makes us choose?  Marketing that appeals to your emotions.  Study after study shows that people buy emotionally, and use logic to justify their emotional decisions.

personal brand
Smoking is less dangerous than jackhammers?

Imagine if you took a fraction of your workweek to promote your Personal Brand. Many professionals don’t even know they have a Personal Brand; many market that brand only as time permits. Also, their marketing is nearly always mediocre. By sporadically using poor marketing materials, they never realize the influence, income and career advancement they can by using materials built around their Personal Brand.

Whether you are an industry leader or a complete rookie in your field, a strong Personal Brand can rocket your career. Yes, effective Personal Branding requires time, money and consistency. And in the end, like all well-considered investments, it will pay for itself.

Now, it might seem heretical to promote yourself – and your abilities – rather than the products and services you sell. But bold Personal Branding can yield amazing results. If you’re not afraid of your own success, invest 25% of your earnings into a One Year Personal Branding and Marketing campaign. Create an image of quality in the hearts and minds of consumers. Pick a domain you want to work with, and position your Personal Brand to address its unique needs and goals. The more consistently you promote your Personal Brand, the stronger the response you can expect.

Case Study
One successful mortgage broker, who wishes to remain unnamed for fear his marketing techniques will be stolen by competitors, was previously having a hard time attracting clients. He was spending a lot of his time chasing REALTORS®, developers, and even high-end homebuyers, but nothing seemed to be working. Then, one day, he opened his mail and found a dynamic, four-color brochure from a competitor.

He got inspired – fast. His mind did a 180° turn, and he attended our Personal Branding seminar. It changed his career.

He started a consistent, full-color direct mail campaign targeting his domain.

Within eight months, he had recouped his direct mail investment tenfold, and he budgeted 25% of his increased profit to a real estate industry magazine campaign presenting his Personal Brand in the same fashion.

Next he set up an informative Web site, promoting the URL in 100% of his ads.  This attracted more clients.

After four years of consistent growth, and after hiring two personal assistants, the broker found out how cheaply he could buy commercial airtime on local cable channels. So he had a commercial written and produced, again putting his Personal Brand front and center – with an outstanding response thanks to consistent exposure.

The big secret to his campaign? He led with his Personal Brand, and his Personal Marketing was impressive. As he told us: “I never substituted quantity for quality. I wasn’t willing to cut corners. Every aspect of my marketing was first-class and reinforced my image.”

What are the ways that your personal brand have helped you differentiate from the competition? Leave your comments below.

For more Small Business Hints and Tips, check these articles:

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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites and, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.

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“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya

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