The Skinnygirl Guide to Branding Your Recruitment Firm

This post originally appeared at


In May of this year, Bethenny Frankel, housewife-turned-reality TV star ended up on the cover of Forbes as the highest grossing celebrity mom.


Okay, so 5 months later it’s not that newsworthy, but I think we can still look to Bethenny for a few tips on building a strong brand.


Bethenny’s brand has a a clearly defined purpose:  Healthy, yet accessible living.


It’s not a ground breaking idea, but she has packaged it so well from her very first TV appearence, that she was able to sell her “Skinnygirl” spirits company back in March for a reported $100 million. (you can read more about that here).


So what can recruitment firm owners and managers take away from Bethenny’s branding success?


1. Be consistent. Bethenny is a skinny woman who endorses Skinnygirl margaritas. There’s no confusion there. When your firm says one thing, but acts in an incongruent manner, your clients get confused.

In his ERE article, “What Drives Me Nuts About Staffing Agencies (and How They Can Work ...,” Matt Lowney wrote about his frustration with firms who are not who they say they are:

Almost every agency says they have a special/unique process for reviewing resumes, sourcing candidates, and access to candidates that sets them apart from their competitors. From my experience I’ve not really seen the impact of their “unique” process in the candidates they’ve submitted.

Sending mixed signals can drive a spike between you and your client.  If you can’t deliver on your promise, then maybe you a new slogan?


2. Recognize Your Mistakes. Bethenny openly admits that appearing on Skating with the Stars was a huge mistake.  It didn’t align with audiences, and it didn’t align with her purpose.  But, she was able to return to the core of her brand, suffering little, if any setbacks.


When your firm has a defined purpose, it’s much easier to come back to the cornerstones of your firm should you happen to veer a little off of your path.  Did that technical education service you offered turn out to be a bad idea?  Admit it’s not working, and bring your focus back to the purpose of your firm.


3.  Diversify. The Skinnygirl margarita was a huge success. But Bethenny didn’t stop there.  Exercise equipment, cookbooks, TV shows – all upshoots from her core brand, but all driven by the same purpose – to help women achieve a healthy lifestyle in a realistic way.


Diversifying your services help you sustain through difficult times. Direct hires down? Lean on contract staffing.  Do something different, but do it your way.


4.  Put a Face to Your Brand.  When I think “Skinnygirl margaritas,” I think Bethenny Frankel.  She and her brand are one in the same.


Do your clients see your face when they think of your firm?  As Travis has written about, avoid using stock photos.  Don’t be afraid to send emails from your CEO.  Let your clients know that there are real people behind your fancy logo and stock web images.


5.  Use Your Platforms.  Bethenny asks, “Why be on TV if you don’t have something to sell?”

Do you know what your firm is selling?  If you have a clear purpose, then you do.  Whether you’re hosting a webinar, presenting to a client, or networking at a conference, your brand – and the experience you create – benefit when your purpose is clearly defined.


6.  Do Not Fear Transparency.  Like any seasoned reality TV star, Bethenny is no stranger to on-screen meltdowns – and her fans love her for it.  While you may not want to have an emotional breakdown in-front of a client, it doesn’t hurt to address problems head-on. Sometimes it’s more productive just to own up to a mistake, and show your client how you’re going to provide a solution.


Strong Branding Stems from a Defined Purpose

When your purpose is defined, and you can easily align with it, it’s much easier to live out your brand message –  not only as a slogan on your website or in your email signature, but during any moment you have the attention of your candidates and clients.

Views: 229

Comment by Tim Spagnola on September 28, 2011 at 10:58am

Thanks Jessica - interesting take on the importance of branding (on all levels). Consistency is so key. Not only that, but I now have a post on the RBC to share with my Wife (a non-recruiter, but HUGE Bethenny fan).


@Amy Ala - Is my secret almost out?

Comment by Jessica Lunk on September 28, 2011 at 11:11am
i'm not a real housewives watcher, but i am definitely aware of who Bethenny is, and that she has a huge following - so she must be doing something right!
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 28, 2011 at 2:21pm
@Tim, at least you can blame in on the other half...  :)  and for the record Bethenny was ALWAYS my favorite.


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