PB10 by davesaunders


									Never Underestimate the Power of a Focus Group

Let’s face it: it’s hard to see yourself.

We look in the mirror every day, and, after a few years, it’s pretty difficult to constantly make a first
impression on ourselves. What’s more, it may be difficult for friends or work colleagues of long-standing to
judge you dispassionately – and that’s exactly what you need to ensure that your brand remains fresh and

That’s why I always remind people that a focus group is one of the most important tools for anyone
working to maintain a personal brand.

Corporations use them all the time. McDonald’s new “healthy” options, for instance, are definitely the
result of a long series of focus groups. New products come out on the market as a result of diligent work by
mediators watching and grilling focus groups about product perception, price, and staging.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same.

It can be tough to find a focus group. In the old days, you could go into your boss’ office and ask what he
would change if he were going to put you on the fast track to management. However, today that kind of
question would spark concerns of harassment lawsuits. In addition, the job market today is a very different
kind of place than it was a few years back. You may not have a traditional boss, and your clients don’t
want to be bothered with what could be perceived as a neurotic cry for approval!

A good hairdresser or barber and personal shopper may be all you need. These people have to understand
your business – you might take photos to show what the movers-and-shakers in your office look like – and
they have to understand you. If you get some nutty hairdresser giving you the Hair Show Look of 2008 (or
1998) because they’ve always wanted to try it, you’ll be so far away from your own brand that you may as
well be Clear Pepsi. Only give these people the power to help you spruce yourself up if they are willing to
take time to look through a number of options before settling on one.
A really well-dressed friend can also help you with this. If you don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be
objective enough to get the job done, take the time and money to hire a stylist or a branding coach. This is
your brand, after all, not a latte. It’s not the time to scrimp, because a good brand will last you a lifetime
(with constant tweaking).

You also want people who understand Web sites – those with both an idea of appearance and
functionality – to look at yours. I’ve found that I could ask people in networking groups to take a look at
mine and make suggestions. They weren’t always right, but there have been plenty of times that they
pointed out things that I – focused on the big picture as I was – had missed.

Don’t forget to have people look at your business cards and your office, and also evaluate your speaking
style. Heck—have someone go out to lunch with you so they can assess your table manners.

         As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” Be sure you get excellent reviews!

Dave Saunders helps people stand out and "Be the Brand" as a personal branding and marketing
specialist. Manage your personal brand online: Create, Enhance and Share a better resume, free, at

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