What people don’t realize is you can create whatever impression you want. You don’t have to leave it up to chance. Putting your best foot forward is something you can choose to do from now on.
Promote yourself with the AIDA method
Marketers, copywriters and salespeople use the term AIDA which is an abbreviation for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.
Attention – Grab the person’s attention up front. Not by raising your shirt or dancing the Macarena, but by providing a concise benefit statement in advance. Marketers call these ‘headlines.’
Interest – Sometimes your personal headline will arouse enough interest, sometimes you’ll have to deliver more information. Either way, you are winning.
Desire – You want what you say and do to lead to an unquenchable want for what you have to offer. Make them see that you are the person that can deliver exactly what they want.
Action – This is the most important step. You want the other person to take an action. Be it a second interview if you are on your first. If you are seeking a raise, you want the company to take the action of giving you a raise.
How to Promote Yourself Using AIDA
First, as mentioned in the first installment, the person you are approaching is distracted and wants to quickly label you. To avoid the wrong pigeonhole, you need to start by attracting the right Attention up front.
What you say and do up front will create your first impression. So make sure you are attracting the right attention for the qualities you want them to remember.
Here’s where having some information about your prospect helps. Ask yourself the following questions:
What is their main concern? What problem keeps them up at night? Can I solve it?
To get attention, I suggest you tailor a sentence or two that powerfully addresses his or her problem. And what you can do to solve it.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are a job seeker and you are on an interview. You can go in saying “I’m a great Cisco expert.” Or instead, you could say “What problems can I help you solve with your Cisco Infrastructure?”
Notice the difference?
In the second sentence, you powerfully promote yourself as a problem solver, and expert, someone who cuts to the chase, someone ready to get things done as well as a Cisco expert.
The first sentence tells the interviewer virtually nothing except that you “think” you are an expert.
The second person will get the right attention.
Getting someone else’s interest can be a tricky skill to develop. But it can be easy if you approach it in the right way.
For one-on-one self-promotion, the best way to get someone else’s interest is to be interested. What could be easier? After you have attention covered, you don’t have to make a big sales speech or convince someone of all the benefits of working with you. You simply need to take an active interest in what the other person has to say.
You can show interest by listening, looking into the other person’s eyes, asking questions and taking notes (if appropriate).
Going back to our job seeking example after the open/headline what would be best is for the candidate to just be quiet. It’s difficult to keep quiet sometimes because you might be a little nervous. You want to say more, give more information. Resist the urge to clarify. Let the other person talk.
By being interested, listening and asking questions you make the other person feel important. Think of a time when someone has shown complete focus on you or something you were doing, didn’t that person seem special? After all, they had the good sense to hang on your every word.;)
Arousing Interest on Paper
Paper obviously does not have the same benefits as one-on-one for communication. But it does have its good points. You can spend time crafting your message. You can get feedback from a friend. Unlike one-on-one you can limit your mistakes and make sure that your meaning is right before you hit the send button.
The key to attracting interest on paper, in emails and websites is your title or subject line. With a webpage, it’s the headline or page title that attracts attention and interest.
Again, it’s helpful to know what your prospect’s wants are before you apply this message, so do your research.
There are many excellent books written about crafting good headlines and subject lines, so I won’t get into it here. But a good place to start is with emotion. Our Cisco job seeker above may think there is no emotion involved with OSPF routing but I assure you there is. The person doing the hiring hates interviewing, hates weeding out people and would love to be done with the whole process.
So playing to that emotion could be just what is needed to get a foot in the door.
A headline like “If you need help on your network while you interview for the Cisco position please let me know.”
If while helping them it turns into a job offer, then all the better…
Hey, I just wrote that subject line off the top of my head.. not bad eh?
I’d say with an open like that you’d have both Attention and Interest covered. Why? Because the hiring manager is looking for someone who can solve their Cisco problems fast so he or she can stop interviewing. Heck you might not even have to interview for that job…
Creating Desire for what you are offering
While you promote yourself it’s important to get people to want what you are promoting.
The way to do that is through our 3rd pillar of the AIDA formula which is Desire.
We create desire by first getting the attention, keeping the interest and then showing that what you offer solves the problem or meets the need.
Think back to when you were a kid. You go to the carnival and one of the barkers yells “step right up and win a prize!” You look over and what do you see? A plush blue stuffed panther 3 feet high.
How did you feel? You desired that stuffed animal right? Maybe tugged on your Dad’s arm “Daddy can I play that hoop game?” Never mind what you would have had to go through to win the toy, you wanted it.
Creating desire is seeing the need and convincing another person that you can meet that need. And here’s a hint: see if you can meet the need better, faster and with less hassle than everyone else. (remember the selfishness principle)
Knowing your audience helps you to effectively create desire. You obviously don’t want to promote your computer programming skills to a Bagel shop. That would be a clear misunderstanding of what their needs are. What they likely need is better tasting flour that costs less than they are paying now.
So to create desire, you need to be able to communicate exactly how you can meet the other person’s needs, fix their problem, make them money or whatever better than anyone else. If you can’t, then desire is lost and you can’t move on to the next step.
Getting Someone to Take Action
The whole point of promoting yourself in the first place is to get another person or group of people to take action. Action is the last and most important part of the AIDA formula for self-promotion. If nobody takes action, you get no results – no results and you have just wasted your time.
It’s up to you to decide what action you want them to take. Then you can hone your efforts so they lead down the path to your goal.
Here are some examples of an action a self-promotion:
A potential employer will hire you.
A potential date will agree to go on a date with you.
A customer will give you money in exchange for your product.
Don’t ever confuse words with actions. Someone saying “sounds good” is not an action. An action is an agreement that someone will do something.
So what action do you want the other person to take? Do you want a raise in pay? Do you want someone to join the Glee Club? Until you get an action from someone else, the AIDA formula is incomplete.
How to get someone to take action
Probably the best advice I can give for getting someone else to do something is to ask. It’s hard to do sometimes I know. Asking for what you want can be intimidating. What if they say no?
What people don’t realize is there is almost as much pressure on the other person to say yes as it is for you to ask! Why? Because they are thinking “What happens if I say no?”
Just think about it. An employee goes in builds a good case with attention, interest and desire. Then he asks for the pay increase. You know what the boss is thinking? “I can’t say no, this guy will quit on me. ” If the boss is paranoid it could even be worse. “I can’t say no, this guy will SUE me!”
So ask, ask, ask. They might say no. So what, you’ll live.
In the next installment of Winning Through Self Promotion I’ll cover some simple, yet powerful, tools you can use to build AIDA and promote yourself.