Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Madonna, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof and U2 lead singer Bono were all personal marketing leaders by the late 1980s.

Early in their public roles and chosen careers, they realised that their talents and influencing skills could take them beyond the borders of their home countries to reach worldwide market appeal.

They learnt how to present and position themselves in different ways. However, they all shared a common trait that helped create their identity and image with mass public appeal.   

The individual era

Since 1982, Madonna has reinvented her music and approach to audiences countless times with wide generational acceptance.  Last year, it was reported that the Queen of Pop earned over US$110 (S$139 million) in 2010 and is the highest earning artist in the music industry.   

To kick off 2012, Madonna was showcased as the half-time entertainment at the 46th United States Super Bowl on Feb 5. She performed in front of a US television-viewing audience of 114 million fans and an estimated worldwide audience of 1.2 billion people. 

With viewers numbering in the tens of millions each week, television shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Apprentice, Dancing With The Stars and the American Idol series feature participants who are risking pride, vanity and failure for the chance to be “discovered”.

These TV shows rank among the top 10 most viewed each week. The continuity of viewership is what sponsors love with each commercial break. The real lesson from these shows is not who wins, however, but the methods in which participants survive each week until eliminated or crowned winner.

Personal marketing and positioning is bringing rewards to individuals in business and culture as never before. It is a trend that was in place before social media like Facebook and YouTube came about. Social media amplify the growth and is an excellent leveraging medium and tool.

Here are ways to help transform your career:

* Promote your strengths. The phrase “God-given talent” often stands out in discussions. Yet, how often do people apply this to themselves? Learn to highlight your personality, energy, varied languages and communication skills among a variety of situations and people.

* Market your skills. The commercial world of business pays for the value, not time, a person puts into his job. How have you brought measurable results to your employer, customers or to the marketplace in recent times?

* Present with style. The individual who takes a different path often stands out best. Take stock of unique and intrinsic ways to support your style, value and results.

* Sell benefits to clients. There is an old saying, “If you take care of other people’s needs first, they will take care of your needs second”. What are the most important benefits you bring to your employer, your customers, clients or community? Action in any of these areas can help  elevate you above the masses.

* Deliver top value. When clients, teammates or employers get more than what they had expected from you, you become the friend, confidante or expert on call. This is when a strong team player or new leader begins to emerge. Make a list of when or where you have delivered unprecedented value and continue adding to your list to confirm your progress and career highlights.

* Position your expertise. When you do a great job, others take notice. Keep in touch with those that value your contributions and ask them to refer you to others whom you can help or serve.

Apply these to make yourself irreplaceable in your job or role and your future success can be assured.