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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the

May 9, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Turn Yourself Into a Brand: Gwen Moran

<B>Gwen Moran suggests you think of yourself as milk,

or maybe a travel destination, or even a detergent. "We should

look at ourselves as a product," the owner of Ocean-based

alternative

marketing agency Moran Marketing Associates, says. "Marketers

have spent billions — maybe trillions — on perfecting

marketing,"

she points out. Why not use their tricks to sell ourselves in the

employment marketplace?

Moran speaks on "Brand You: Applying Basic Marketing Principles

to Jumpstart Your Career and Your Life" at a meeting of the

Central

Jersey Women’s Network on Thursday, May 10, at 6 p.m. at the Oakland

House Restaurant in Red Bank. Cost: $35. Call 908-281-9234.

A graduate of Syracuse University (Class of 1988), Moran started her

marketing career with Random House, the book publisher, and then went

to work for Simplicity Pattern Co., the sewing pattern company.

"It

was good training for alternative advertising," she says.

"Neither

company has traditional advertising as its focus." She learned

to promote books, toys, and audio books, and then sewing patterns,

through events, publicity, tie-ins with other products, and direct

work with merchants.

After five years she went out on her own, networking like crazy to

uncover her first clients. Now at four employees, she says her agency

has been profitable from the beginning. Specializing in alternative

marketing, Moran’s agency has been responsible for sending in-line

skaters zooming through Manhattan snapping pictures of folks drinking

milk for the American Dairy Association’s Got Milk campaign. Moran

organized a Pregnant Pause contest for a non-profit interested in

reducing alcohol abuse among expectant mothers. Bartenders competed

to mix the best non-alcoholic drinks, and moms-to-be judged the

results.

The essence of alternative advertising, Moran says, is finding an

audience, and then devising creative ways of connecting with it. It

works for milk, and it will work for career advancement too, if only

we are willing to look at ourselves as just another product. Here

is her advice for doing just that:

Take a Look at Your Product. "What is the inventory?

What are the benefits? The features?" These are the questions

we, just like anyone peddling soda pop or saltines, must ask.

"Take

a personal inventory of the good things you bring to the table,"

she says. "And list weaknesses, too." Any product worth

marketing

has "significant strengths and benefits," she says. And, of

course, a drawback or two. Identify each and every selling point,

and work on shoring up weaknesses.

Examine Your Market. In selling yourself, Moran says,

the market will be a function of what you want. Whether your goal

is a new job, a promotion, or the acquisition of a desirable client,

you will need to identify the decision maker, and then "try to

get inside the head of that person." Just as agencies stirring

up lust for sports cars or home furnishings dissect consumer desires,

you need to tease out decision makers’ unmet needs.

Craft Key Messages. "You have to explain why you are

the right choice," Moran says. She finds many people hesitant

to promote themselves. Thinking like a marketer can help here. Does

Coke hesitate to sing its praises? Does Pepsi expect that its products

will make it into consumers’ hearts — and shopping carts —

without a little help?

Perfect Your Packaging. "This doesn’t mean hauling

out your old copy of Dress for Success," Moran says. But it does

mean "looking the part." Observe those who have achieved your

goal, whether they be supervisors at your company or small businesses

owners with an impressive stable of clients. How do they dress? How

do they present themselves? This is a trickier question than it once

was. "Over-dressing can be as damaging as under-dressing,"

Moran says. "Too formal can be as negative as too loose."

Just as filling consumers’ only-half-recognized desire to scoot

into the outback at a moment’s notice is the best way to sell an

over-sized

vehicle to suburbanites, so too is plumbing the psyches of corporate

decision makers the best way to land a dream job.


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