One of the most elegant and simple frameworks for comprehensively analyzing your competitive field is Urbany and Davis’ 3 Circle model.
It uses a simple Venn diagram with overlapping circles representing “customers,” “competitors,” and “company” to comprehensively describe a series of important factors in your competitive environment. Some of the most important elements of the model include intersection areas that represent the points of difference setting apart your company, points of parity that afford no competitive advantage, points of difference giving your competitors an edge, and undiscovered or unmet needs of your customers. There are several additional drivers represented by the intersection areas in the diagram to the left. For a complete discussion of these elements and an overview of the 3 Circle model, please see 3-circles.net.
Applying the 3 Circle model to personal branding
Simply replacing the word “company” with the word “you” allows you to apply many of the lessons for effective competitive differentiation from the 3 Circle model to the task of building your personal brand.
In this case, you competitors may be people with similar backgrounds or résumés that are competing with you for a job or a promotion.Your customers are hiring managers or supervisors who can grant a promotion.
For maximum effectiveness, your value proposition and especially your hook should come from the area marked “Point of difference for you” in the diagram to the right. Unfortunately, simple descriptions of capabilities and skills (“market research,” “C++ coding,” “telecom equipment installation,” etc.) often fall squarely into the area labeled “Points of parity.” These are the table stakes that are required for a job, but won’t set you apart from the other contenders.
In a previous post, I described the technique of exponential differentiation. These overlapping value propositions will allow you to grow the area marked “points of difference for you” which in turn increases your chances of “closing the deal.” Take a moment to go through your resume, executive bio, LinkedIn profile, and any other piece of messaging collateral you may have. Yes, including the right (undifferentiated, descriptive, bland) keywords is a critical search engine optimization technique in today’s world of automated applicant tracking and large-scale human resources management systems. But your summary and value proposition statements at the beginning of these documents should avoid wasting space with points of parity. A useful “gut check” technique is to ask yourself “how many other people can make the same claim?” Continue refining your summary and value proposition statements until you have narrowed down the pool of competitors as far as possible. In addition, the exponential differentiation value proposition may help your customers discover unstated or “tacit” needs they may not have realized they had.This simultaneously shrinks the area of “points of parity” and grows your “points of difference.”
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