Developing a Brand is Overrated

Why would any business ever want to differentiate? Why would any professional want to be known for something unique? That seems like a terrible idea; wouldn’t it be much better to do everything, like a true one-stop shop? Just imagine a restaurant that changes tires and updates resumes! Sounds likes like a great business, right?

Hopefully that made your head spin a little and piqued your interest. Of course you want to specialize and develop a brand! That way, when a client or center of influence is speaking with a company decision maker, they will think of you and your unique retirement plan expertise each and every time.

Recently, a client shared a story about his weekly networking group meeting and a very insightful exercise. Each member was given a piece of paper. On the left-hand side it listed every attendee’s name — about 15 people. The instructions were: write down what each person does.

The next week they called everyone’s name in turn and read aloud what the group had said about that person. It went something like this: John Miller: attorney, tax attorney, family and tax attorney, lawyer, not sure, legal aid, father, estate attorney, business owner. While most of these were accurate, see how they differ? As our client told this story, he said that it hit him how important it was to have a strong brand. Yes, he did much better than the attorney, but it still gave him pause to do a self-evaluation.

So, we pass this challenge on to you. If you asked 15 of your clients, “What do I do?” what do you think they would say? How would they articulate your brand?


Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here


When you cultivate a strong brand, people will naturally think of you and your unique attributes. Here are two ways to develop a strong brand through networking and social media:

  • Interesting and memorable stories. At networking events, share stories about who you are and what you like. These stories can be professional and/or personal. They just need to be interesting and memorable. For example, do you like to travel? Where and why? Tell me a story about your trip. As a retirement plan advisor, tell me that funny story about working with that father/son business. C’mon, you know the one.
  • Social community. The other idea is through social media. Take pictures at events. Let your social viewers into your experiences and share information about what you’re doing. This will create a social community, where people are interested in what you’re doing, and it could provoke a future conversation. The social viewer could “like” your post, comment, and/or share with their social audience. Posting pictures at events could generate thousands of views.

There it is. Be authentic, be interesting, be you. People will remember your stories and how you’ve helped employers and employees achieve a better retirement.

Building a strong brand takes time and commitment. The more networking and social media involvement, the greater your reach will become. Also, the better your stories, the more people will immediately recall them. Think about what you want to be known for; then think of an example that tells that story. Share it with everyone. This way, when someone has that quiz in front of them with your name on it, they will write: 401(k) advisor extraordinaire!

Thanks for reading, and happy marketing!

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing.

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