The PPAI Expo offered Monday keynote luncheon speaker David Avrin something more than most of his speaking gigs. A marketing professional himself, Avrin is sticking around until Tuesday to take to the trade-show floor to find what products and ideas the industry has to offer that he can incorporate into his own business.

Avrin, president of The Visibility Coach, session shared insights based on the discussion he launched in his book, It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You.

Marketing—specifically building and maintaining a successful brand—was also the focus of Avrin’s keynote presentation, which highlighted how in today’s marketplace, a powerful brand is more important than ever. The world is moving from a seller’s model to a buyer’s model. Consumers don’t need someone to tell them what they want to buy, they’ve made that decision themselves and that they’re used to making a purchase quickly. Avrin likened the marketplace of today to the shelves of grocery store.

But sales professionals still have a role as the expert and the advocate, and for them, Avrin stressed, the most important thing to have is a strong brand. Brands are most successful when they have an established niche. Avrin says, “When you’re a good choice for a lot of people, you’re not the best choice for anybody.”

The tricky thing about brands is that they’re not owned by what they represent. They exist in the minds of consumers and clients. Avrin described it as a lagging, rather than leading, indicator of marketplace performance. A brand is effectively a report card.

The greatest threat to that report card’s health is complacency—reputation won’t carry a brand along indefinitely, it has to be marketed—but Avrin highlighted a few ways to keep it on a solid footing. And No.1 is the importance of standing out in an unexpected way. He asked his audience to identify what they are doing in their business that would cause somebody to talk about them to someone else. “To what question are you the answer,” he asked.

Avrin says that for a brand, specialization equals credibility. A specialist will always prove more appealing to a generalist, he explained.

Control what you can, he added. In developing what you brand stands for, ask yourself what you need to stop doing. But in turn, Avrin emphasized, don’t discount your current successes. Also ask yourself, what do we need to keep doing?

But for Avrin, the most important factor in pursuing a healthy brand is visibility. If you want people to be interested in you, you have to be interesting.