MBA Roadmap Excerpts

From the Introduction

When I applied to business school in 1996, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life and thus with my MBA education: transition from a number-crunching financial analyst into a brand manager at a consumer products company… My passion for marketing never subsided – marketing is what I do every day with our clients – just in a form that I never expected.  I market people to their dream schools, rather than market ice cream to people.  Throughout the book you will see how marketing is an essential part of this process and my hope is that you can become an effective personal marketer before you even set foot on a business school campus.

From Developing “Brand You”:  The Way to Drive Home Your Main Points

”The best applications feature four or five aspects of the applicant’s character and experiences that anyone reading the essays can’t help but identify. These four to five traits combine to form “Brand You.”

We all know the power of brands. Companies spend tons of cash to make sure you know how they deliver value and what they stand for. While there are many more subtle facets to their full corporate identities and many nuances to their product/service offerings, firms need to make sure that customers have a complete and unambiguous understanding of a limited list of characteristics. Take, for instance, this list of traits for a few well-know companies:

1. Low prices everyday, huge selection, one-stop shop
2. Great place to hang out, socially responsible, respect for employees
3. Great design, simplifying the complex, cool
4. Irreverent, youth-oriented, influencing lifestyles
5. Fun, family, fantasy

Even from just these short descriptions, you can probably guess which companies we’re referencing (see below). That’s because these messages have been pounded into your head through repetition, multiple interactions with the firm or exposure to marketing messages.

Similarly, candidates need to make sure the people who read their applications make no mistake about the core of their character and experiences. Certainly, all applications end up covering more than three to four points if they capture the wonderful complexities of us as humans. But if we give equal weight to 20 traits, we water down the main things the admissions committee needs to know about us.

If a candidate wants to be known as “a natural leader – intellectual, creative, driven, community-minded, responsible, action-oriented, nurturing, committed, rigorous, internationally-focused, physically fit, welcoming, laid back, institution-building and adventurous,” ultimately, we really don’t know what this person stands for…

Just a few words can trigger our thoughts about a brand. Did you get these from the short statements above?
1. Wal-Mart
2. Starbucks
3. Apple
4. MTV
5. Disney

Learn more about how to develop “Brand You” in The MBA Application Roadmap.

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