We all know a business that’s a well-kept secret. For you, it may be a great restaurant that few people know about, or a repair person who is reasonable, available, and reliable.

As customers, we often like things this way. We don’t necessarily want it to be hard to get a table at our favorite restaurant for a special occasion, or difficult to book the repair person when we need them most.

However, for most businesses, being a well-kept secret is not a good thing. These companies are fighting to win customers in an environment where most people haven’t heard of them.

In some cases, we see the opposite: businesses that are fantastic at letting the world know they exist, even if most people don’t know what they do. For example, the failed streaming platform Quibi had massive name recognition after a widely seen Super Bowl ad, but 70 percent of viewers thought it was a food delivery service.

For business owners, few things are more frustrating than seeing a competitor who offers an inferior product or service get far more attention through superior marketing. But the fact is: reach and marketing matter. People and businesses need to embrace this reality to stand out and get ahead.

In a recent conversation I had on the Elevate Podcast with branding expert Rory Vaden, he expressed this dynamic as a formula:

Revenue = Reputation x Reach

For a business to grow revenue, it must be both excellent at what it does (reputation), and have a large audience of people who know about it (reach).

To the frustration of many, reach is likely the more impactful part of the above equation. While many leaders are focused on quality, and ideally want both reputation and reach, a business with great reputation and a poor reach is likely to have fewer customers than a business with a poor reputation and great reach. I see this play out consistently in our company’s industry.

This same dynamic also exists for individual producers. Some people do amazing work without anyone knowing about it. As a result, their efforts don’t make that big of an impact, neither inside their organizations nor in their own careers. Most of us need to get better at self-advocacy.

This is a major reason why personal branding has exploded in relevance in the past decade. Technology and social media have democratized the process of gaining reach, even for people and companies without deep pockets. Personal branding helps you spread your reputation either within your company’s walls, or in your industry where you’re looking to build awareness and relevance.

For most of us, the concept of lifetime employment has all but disappeared. In that context, it’s increasingly important to build a personal brand that is portable from one company to another. This might include speaking, writing articles, creating videos and using social media to build up your reputation and reach in areas where you have both passion and expertise.

It can be a delicate balance to highlight your personal skills and accomplishments while also being seen as a team player. But working to increase your reach will likely lead to more opportunity in your current role and open new doors in the future.

Whether you run a business or are an employee who wants to grow and expand within one, make sure no one ever calls you a well-kept secret. To help, I encourage you to listen to my full conversation with Vaden on the Elevate Podcast.

Quote of The Week

“Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.”


– Mark Twain