The Best Intentions

Effective self-marketing is the quickest path to success.

Whether you know it or not, you’re marketing yourself every day – to lots of people. You’re marketing yourself in a quest to make a sale, warm up a relationship, get a job, get connected, get something you deserve. You’re always sending messages about yourself.

Guerrillas control the messages that they send. It’s all about intention. Guerrillas live intentionally. Non-guerrillas send unintentional messages, even if those messages sabotage their overall goals in life. They want to close a sale for a consulting contract, but their inability to make eye contact or their confusing email message turns off the prospect.

Avoid Unintentional Messages

Unintentional messages erect an insurmountable barrier. Your job is to be sure there is no barrier. There are really two people within you – your accidental self and your intentional self. Most people are able to conduct about 95 percent of their lives by intent. But that’s not enough.

It’s the other 5 percent that can get you in trouble – or in clover. I’m not talking about phoniness here. The idea is for you to be who you are and not who you aren’t – to be aware of what you’re doing, aware of whether or not your actions communicate ideas that will help you get what you truly deserve.

Who do you market to without even realizing it? Employees. Customers. Prospects. Teachers. Parents. Children. Bosses. Prospective employers. Mates. Prospective mates. Friends. Sellers. Landlords. Neighbors. Professionals. Members of the community. The police. Service people. Family. Bankers. These people can help you or stop you from getting what you deserve. You can influence them with how you market yourself.

To market yourself properly, answer these three questions:

  1. Who are you now – if friends described you, what would they say? Be honest.
  2. What do you want out of life? Be specific for the best results.
  3. How will you know when you’ve reached your goals?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’re doomed to accidental marketing and spending your life reacting instead of responding, and the odds will be against you reaching your goals.

How do you send messages and market yourself right now? With your appearance, to be sure. You also market with your eye contact and body language, your habits, your speech patterns. You market yourself in print with your letters, email, website, notes, faxes, brochures and other printed material. You also market yourself with your attitude and ethics.

Again, you may not be aware of it, but people are constantly judging and assessing you by noticing many things. You must be sure your marketing message doesn’t conflict with your dreams. What are people using to base their opinions, to make their decisions about you? I’ve come up with more than 30 variables, but here are the top 10:

  1. Clothing
  2. Enthusiasm
  3. Neatness
  4. Tone of voice
  5. Energy level
  6. Eye contact
  7. Writing ability
  8. Spelling
  9. Business card
  10. Availability

You’re fully aware of your intentional marketing, and you invest time, energy and imagination into it, not to mention money. But you may be undermining that investment if you’re not paying attention to things that matter to others even more than what you say. These are things such as keeping promises, punctuality, honesty, demeanor, respect, gratitude, sincerity, feedback, initiative and reliability. People also notice passion – or the absence of it. They notice how well you listen to them.

How to Market Yourself

Now that you know these things, what should you do? Ben Franklin said that three of the hardest things in the world are diamonds, steel and knowing yourself. Here’s a three-step plan to get you started on the road to self-awareness and self-marketing acumen.

  1. Write a positioning statement about yourself. Identify just who you are and the positive things that stand out most about you.
  2. Identify your goals. Put into writing the three things you’d most like to achieve during the next three months, three years and 10 years.
  3. State your measuring stick. Write the details of how you will know when you’ve achieved your goals. Be brief and specific.

To guerrilla market yourself, simply be aware of and in control of the messages you send. Do so and your goals will be a lot easier to attain.

Look at your policies, procedures and daily management practices. What behaviors are you measuring and rewarding? Examine your purchasing and pricing practices – these impact your brand far more than anything you might say in your ads. Finally, look at your website through the eyes of your customers – you’ll begin to glimpse the truth of your brand.

Taking Action

Examine the soul of your company through your daily actions, not your beliefs, and you’ll soon be able to write branding ads that will ring like a bell. Behold the keys to successful brand writing:

Truth in advertising. Bad ads are filled with phrases you like to say about yourself. Good ads are filled with what your customers say about you when you’re not around. To be successful, your branding ads must sharply echo the word on the street about your company. Jeff Bezos, CEO of, got it right when he said, "It has always seemed to me that your brand is formed primarily not by what your company says about itself, but what the company does." You’ll discover the truth behind your brand when you can explain why customers come back.

Overstatement is passé. Offer proof to back up what you say, even if it lies only in your customers’ experience or assumptions. Branding isn’t just about the facts: People buy brands with their hearts as well as their heads. Brand loyalty is built on the fact that our purchases remind us – and tell the world around us – who we are.

Search for evocative words. Sniff out overused phrases. Stimulate customers’ minds with thoughts more interesting than the ones they were previously thinking.

Be consistent. The consistent use of the same colors and fonts is often called "branding." Your brand should remain constant in all communications from your company, including your website, email, brochures, business cards and so on.

Brands are built on consistency, the roots of which are patience and attention to detail. It’s going to take a lot longer to build your brand than you feel it should. Here’s the bottom line: If you think you’re going to be able to measure brand progress at the end of 12 short months, you’re dreaming. Brand development isn’t measured in months, but in years. Good luck with your brand.

Remember always that you are your own brand, and that if you’re not guerrilla marketing yourself, you are falling short of what you ought to be doing.


JAY CONRAD LEVINSON is the acknowledged father of guerrilla marketing with more than 14 million books sold in his Guerrilla Marketing series, now in 41 languages. His websites can be found at and