3 essential questions every personal brand MUST answer: an interview with master marketer Mike Kim
Val: You are in for such a treat today. My guest is not only a friend and mentor, he's a master marketer. Mike Kim is here today to share his perspective on marketing and for those of you who haven't heard him speak before, I want you to get ready to have your mindset about marketing completely reset.
What I love about Mike is he makes it really simple to understand what you need to do to be a successful marketer and I also want you to remember though that simple doesn't necessarily mean easy. I hear from many of you that connecting with your audience feels confusing and you're not sure where to get started. Well, today's episode is part one of my interview with Mike. Mike will share his three PBs of personal brand marketing and how to find your passion and the people that you're meant to serve. He will also share the number one thing that people get wrong about marketing. And it's so simple, once you hear it, you will never approach connecting with your audience the same way. But before we get started, I'd like to give you a little background on Mike Kim, who is a real world marketing pro.
Mike hosts the top rated Brand You podcast, and if you haven't listened to that yet, immediately after listening to this podcast, please do. After working as the CMO of a multimillion dollar company in New York, Mike stepped into the world of consulting and since then he has been hired by people and companies like John Maxwell, Donald Miller, Susan Evans and catalyst. And if you're ready to learn how to market your personal brand and do stuff that wouldn't embarrass your mother, then you really need to subscribe to his podcast. And with that, grab your notebooks and something to write with to capture all the value Mike gives in this interview. Welcome, Mike am so glad you're here.
Mike Kim: 02:41 It is an honor to be with you, Val, and with all of you who are tuning in, and sharing some time with us today. Thanks for joining us. Hope to add some value to you all today.
Val: 02:49 absolutely Mike, I really would be remiss if I didn't share this. There would be no Camera Ready with Val Brown without Mike Kim. It was a couple of years ago and I was getting started and Mike was pushing me to get going, you said "Val, you need to get out there." And he had me on his podcast was the first podcast I was ever on. And to say I was nervous as an understatement. And that really just opened up a lot of possibilities for me. So here we are today. One of the things I learned in working with you, Mike, one of the first things you taught us was you asked us to ask ourselves three questions and you said, if we didn't understand our why about why we were doing what we're doing, go no further. And the three questions you asked is what makes you mad, what makes you sad and what problem are you trying to solve? And I can't think of a better way for our listeners to get an opportunity to know your philosophy than this.
Mike Kim: 03:50 Yeah, I must have given you the PG version
Val: 03:53 [laughs]
Mike Kim: 03:56 because in those questions, and I, you know, I've since like called them like the PB three, like the personal brand three because these are really questions that get to the starting point in the core of who you are. Because most people now who want to start a personal brand, they do it because they want to, they want to start a side hustle and they want to get out of their regular day job and they want to earn money. And my thinking is there are a lot of ways to earn money. If, if money is all you care about, you can flip stuff on Ebay or Craigslist if you really need to. There's a lot of ways to make money, but if you want to start a business sharing what you know and monetizing your expertise and making in an actual impact on people, there are deeper reasons for that than just money.
Mike Kim: 04:40 So that's what you got to tap into. That's what's going to keep you going. And here you are at 40 episodes and you obviously are doing this not just because of the money, but because it's a passion.
Mike: And so I asked people like, what pisses you off? I mean I'm using that word on purpose. Like I want to get to the core of what really, really grinds you. What really gets you angry, what breaks your heart? You know, what, what makes you really, really sad. And number three, what's the big problem you're trying to solve? And you know, the first, what pisses you off is that is the injustice that you see in the world. And I, I use that word on purpose in justice. That's the injustice that you see in the world. What breaks your heart is the compassion that you have for people.
Mike Kim: 05:21 And that that's a loaded word, compassion, right? Yeah. And the big problem you're trying to solve, that's your business idea. That's your business idea. And so for me, when I asked myself those questions, sure, I'm in marketing, but here's what I said when I asked myself like what pisses me off. It's that is that there are institutions and organizations out there for the sake of their own benefit will suppress, will almost innocence and neuter the human spirit, right? And institutionalize a bunch of people who are actually very smart, who are very wise, who are very experienced and turn them into a cog in the called corporate America or business or whatever it is, right? And I understand those companies need to exist. And some people flourish in those. I'm talking about the person in that company that knows they were made for something different, knows that they were made for something more that can't figure out how to get out.
Mike Kim: 06:14 And what breaks my heart is that, you know, you know, just to paint a picture of this, I'd be driving down the street in New Jersey where I lived at the time. I've seen these people at seven 38 in the morning while I'm going to get coffee, you know, sitting in the, in the rain, standing out in the rain waiting for their bus to go take them to a job. They probably hate it. And I said to myself like, I bet some of those people were varsity athletes in high school. I bet some of them graduate with a 4.0 from college. I'm, I bet they have master's degrees and stuff like that and are literally go into a job that they hate. They're miserable. Their families as a result are miserable. They live this like just kind of like, you know, routine life. And that breaks my heart because some of those people don't want that, but that they think that's all they've got.
Mike Kim: 06:56 They think that's the only option. So the big problem trying to solve is to help those kinds of people. But I do it through marketing. I don't wake up in the morning and look at a really poorly designed add and say, that really pisses me off. [laughs] now there are some people who are like that. Yeah, there are some people who are like that and they should work at an ad agency. They should. They should absolutely do that. But that's not me.
I don't like calling myself a life coach or a career coach or anything like that. I'm a business coach, but in a sense, I am coaching them through life, through business, and helping them start and market a business. And that's why I do what I do. So when I lose track of like why I'm getting lost in the weeds of a certain product launch or some sort of campaign, I go back to those three questions is I know it's because there are people out there, there are people out there. Even even you Val, when we first were working together you were like, I want to do something different. I'm like, okay, let's go do something different, right? I have this expertise. You had this insight and all this experience and I was like, let's package this up and, and start to share it with the world and create a new new life in a way. So that's why I do what I do is those three questions.
Val: 08:07 When you talk about being a business coach, the life piece is part of it. You have to coach the whole person. And I think that that's what really, for me, when I started working with you, I'd never experienced that before where somebody cared about all of me. It wasn't just like what I was doing. It's like, what are you bringing to this and what's going to sustain you? So there's really long hours and the disappointments and the trial and error. So absolutely.
Well, the next set of questions that you ask us was, and I love this one, is what do you want me to pay you for? Which one of I friends do you want me to tell you about? Right? And I was like, Gee, I don't know. I've never really thought of my business in those terms, you know? And, but it doesn't that make it simple, doesn't it? It makes it so easy when you think about that.
Mike Kim: 08:56 Yeah. It's the whole point is to make it relatable, right? So like, you know, you get, you get to this point where you're like, yeah, I want to start a business. And here, here's what happens. Most people, most people, they stay right in their head. They don't go and execute. I'm not like that. I mean, I spent a little bit of time in my head, but then I just go do it. And once I get, you know, some bumps and bruises, I come back and I was like, okay, at least I tried that. What did I learn? Right? And so I found that in a lot of the people that I met who are coaching people in business, like business coaches, like they had these in marketing coaches, they had these ideal client, you know, exercises and Avatar. And I just didn't really like that.
Mike Kim: 09:38 I know that there's a place for that, but it didn't really get me the answers that I wanted. Right. Because here's what I would say, I just want ta client base to make money. All right? And I'll serve whoever gives me money. I know that's not a good answer. And I know that's not like a good way to build a business, but that was my answer at the time.
That's all I understood. And so when I ask people like, well your ideal client, your Avatar, forget all that, which one of my friends do you want me to tell or talk to about your business? They'd say wait, what? I'm like, okay, let me just give you a few scenarios. You want to meet my friend Sarah, we were coworkers. She's probably about 24 now and graduated from pharmacy, not too long ago, single.
Mike Kim: 10:21 Do you want to talk to her like, hmm. Not really. No. I'm like, okay, do you want to talk to, you want to talk to my sister? She's 37 two kids, you know, a couple of degrees. Works from home for one of the big four consulting companies. You want to talk to her? They're like, oh yeah, actually maybe. Yeah, maybe I do because I am trying to talk about life balance and, and wellness, you know, as, as a woman. Or do you want to talk to my, one of my best friends, Henry, he's 40 he's got an eight year old son. He works at Whole Foods as a recruiter or do you want to talk to my friend Jennifer? She's in her fifties and she's a doctor. She's got a daughter in college, and so I start to paint those pictures and then they would start to say, oh wait, wait.
Mike Kim: 11:03 Yeah, actually, you know what? I want to talk to people like your sister. I want to talk to people like, your friend Henry, I want to talk to Jen because she's older and she's got money because she's a doctor, right? And now it kind of like helps them have a picture of a real person because I'm actually using real people in the example. And then I tell, then I asked like, well what do you actually want me to pay you for? And they'll say life clarity. And I'm like, last time I checked, you can't buy a bottle of life clarity.
Va:l [laughs] I remember having this conversation with you...
Mike Kim: Literally what do I get when I give you my credit card? Do I get, you know, a book? Do I get access to a digital course too? I get your phone number so that I can buy an hour of your time to have you coach me.
Mike Kim: 11:48 What do I literally get when I give you my credit card? There's such simple questions and such simple answers and that really goes back to my philosophy on approaching this whole thing of marketing. And even for the folks listening to this about you're getting camera ready, like I'm, I'm really trying to experiment with this. I'm like I'm not going to go out there and buy, you know, a DSLR camera. I don't even know how to use the thing, but I do use my phone every single day and you know, the more simple my tools, the more likely I'm going to use that. Right? So for me, the more simple the approach, the more likely people are apt to take action. And once you do take action and you learn the complexities is in the other nuances, you'll adapt and you'll grow. You just got to trust that you're going to grow. That's one thing that I, I I encourage people to have faith in. You're going to grow, it's going to, yes, one thing I can bank on because you wouldn't be talking to me in the first place if you weren't a growth oriented person. So trust that the answers will come. Keep it simple, keep it simple and the results will follow.
Val: 12:50 I would 100% agree. And there is an exercise that we went through and I, and this was really eye opening for me, is when you were talking about your journey Mike, and you said, you know, the first year I blogged that that's what I did was I blogged and then started finding my voice and created a body of work. And then I moved on to the podcast. See this goes to simplicity, right? And just one step at a time. And then from there there was speaking, there was events and now there's like wow, the universe. A million things.
Mike Kim: Yeah. So many things.
Val: So when you talk about the simplicity piece, it's sort of on the other side of the coin then is what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make consistently? And you would just tell people out of the gate, if you go down this path, you will not succeed
Mike Kim: 13:37 when they, when they overthink it, it's paralysis by analysis, you know? And, and for those of us who create content and everybody should be creating content. And here's, here's the rub. If you use any social media channel at all, whether for personal business, you're already creating content. So all these folks who are like, well, I don't want to be a content creator. I'm like, yeah, but you, you just posted three things on your Instagram last week. What do you think that is? That's content. So where I see people fail it or maybe just falls through, I don't like to use the word fail too much. I fail at a lot, a lot of things right. But where where they struggle is because they don't have a framework for what they're doing when they say, I want to grow brand or I want to get camera ready, or I want to, I want to learn marketing.
Mike Kim: 14:17 The goals are very clear. They never changed. They want to make more money. I mean, that's, that's the main goal for marketing. They want, they want to make more money or they want to live a life that they're proud of and do work that they actually love it and they believe in right. And, and make a living that way. And there's all the power tools. I want people to do that, but where are they? Where do they fall short? And where they struggle is they don't know how they're going to market. They don't know how they're going to create this content because they don't have a framework for it. So this is what I tell people. There are three main reasons why people tune into any kind of content online these days. Education, inspiration, entertainment. It's one of those three things, right? And usually a brand will primarily focus on one of those three things.
Mike Kim: 14:55 But the really successful brands do all three to a certain measure. So I'm primarily an educational brand, right? I teach marketing, I teach copywriting, business coach, I do all these things right? But if you go onto my Instagram and all you saw were educational content pieces, you get bored because I'd be one dimensional. As a personal brand, you would just be Mike talking to us about everything he knows. Here's Mr. expert again. And what people would say. It's like, I just don't relate to this guy. I don't connect. I think his content is good, but I just don't, I don't relate to him. I don't connect to him. And what they're really saying is you're not a person. People still do business with people. No matter how big a brand is, unless you're like Amazon and some huge juggernaut, people are doing business with you.
Mike Kim: 15:41 And so what I try to do is I try to pepper in inspirational content and entertaining content. So I'll pepper in a quote or a saying that really resonates with me and I'll put that on my Instagram. I would put that in my podcasts or I'll put that in my blog posts or in my emails to my list. And it touches just a little bit on inspirational content. Now, I'm not one of these quote guys. I don't like to quote myself. I don't like to put all that stuff out there. But I understand that's part of building a personal brand, I have to inspire people. I have to share stories of where I've taken risk and failed and we're taking risk and succeeded because that will inspire people. I like to travel a lot. And so that in of itself inspires people because they see me living a life that they endeavored to live to a certain degree.
Mike Kim: 16:29 So that's why I post that kind of content because in a sense it will inspire them. When I shared the story of like the first time I finally got my scuba diving certification and went on my first dive, tons of likes, tons of comments. I'm not teaching marketing. I am sharing something from my life that they find inspirational. And then of course on the entertaining side, I just have my weird northeast dry sense of humor, right? And my friends say I cannot believe you posted that about yourself. Like you were trashed and you're singing karaoke in a bar and people just think it's funny, right? And, and so while I'm primarily an educational brand, that's the pillar. The other two things, the inspiration in the entertainment kind of get peppered in. Now on the flip side, you can have a brand like those meme accounts on Instagram, they're all entertainment, they're all funny.
Mike Kim: 17:16 But even then I follow a bunch of those accounts. When the person who's running that account posts something serious and it's something inspirational like, "wow, I got a lot of hate from that last comment, you know, reminds me of something that happened to me when I was bullied as a kid growing up." And you know what? "If you don't like what I'm posting, then you can go like it doesn't matter because I've learned to like really love myself." I'm like, wow, I don't even know who this guy is. All they do is post like silly memes on Instagram, but I feel connected to the brand right there.He's an entertainment brand. I was inspired by that little post and I'm like, I feel connected to that. So that's the biggest mistake, if you will, that I see people make brands even make because they're just so, they box themselves in and make themselves a one dimensional in the name of, of brand alignment.
Mike Kim: 18:05 And I'm like, yeah, I get that. That's true. And, and maybe you need that kind of discipline early on, but as the brand evolves and as time passes, you need to move into the other two columns a little bit just to feel connected with people. And this is out of nowhere, but you know, if any of you use Twitter, follow Wendy's, the hamburger chain, they're on Twitter. Hilarious. They win awards every year for their marketing. It's hilarious. It's just entertaining and it has nothing to do with hamburgers but it makes me want to eat there.
Val: 18:38 Right, because you're, you're creating relationship. I think it makes you feel good. And I love what you're saying about the unidimensional versus the, the multidimensional. None of us are just one thing, right? And I focus on this when I, when I talk about know your purpose for doing a video and when you're really clear about it, you can say I,am creating this video is for education purposes. Oh, this one is a little bit more about expanding the texture and the depth of my brand. Or, Mike Kim's an educator, but look at the incredible life he lives because of the work that he does. And it makes you very approachable, very relatable. I mean, I'm sure there are people that probably email you all the time and say they "Mike I feel like I know you and I haven't met you, but I feel like I know you."
Mike Kim: 19:26 Yeah. And, and, and that's, you know, when people ask me like, what's, what's marketing about? Marketing is about opening a relationship, not closing a sale. I was just asked this recently. Well, you give away so much information on your podcasts, like, holy cow, where do you draw the line? So, you know, marketing is not about closing a sale, but it's about opening a relationship. If I withhold information from people that I'm in a relationship with, that relationship goes south real fast, you know, any, any close, intimate relationship, spouse, sister, you know, uh, whatever friend, you start withholding things, it creates this gap. It creates a chasm between you and when there's a chasm in a relationship like that, I know a thing or two about this, right? We automatically fill it. We fill that chasm emotionally. And when we start to suspect things and we start to make up stories because there's nothing being told.
Mike Kim: 20:22 And so when I tell people everything I can within 30 minutes on a podcast behind a certain launch that I do, a lot of folks will say, well, how are you going to make money off that? Well, last time I checked, most of those people are not going to implement. So what I can do is I can open up a coaching group or I can create a course that shows them literally how to implement it. And there's, there's the monetization and they'll say yes a lot of the time because they have a relationship. Because I'm actually talking to, and we've had conversations and any healthy relationship, there's going to be a back and forth in the conversation. So when I look at these marketing channels at all, like a podcast or a blog or social media, all I'm really trying to do is have conversations with people. Is it just a different way of doing it. It's like, you know, back in the day, handwritten letters sent in the mail, 17-1800s, that was communication. That's not talking face to face. Even those people had to learn how to say things in those letters to elicit a response and even though they would not get another piece of mail for like a month, there was conversation, pen pals. That's where it stemmed from. So social media, I just see it as, as virtual pen pals happening a lot faster. That's how I see it.
Val: 21:28 . I love that Mike. That is awesome. And I want to make sure before we go for people who would like to listen to your podcast, and I know you have a lot of great materials there, how can they find you?
Mike Kim: 21:42 The easiest thing to do is I just open up your show notes. If you're listening to this us on this podcast, just go right into whatever podcast player you're using, whether it's Apple podcasts or Downcast or Stitcher, and just type in Mike Kim and it's called the Brand You podcast. And you can listen in right there too, to Val's interview. You can find her interview. If you want, just tune in to the podcast and we'll continue the conversation there. That's probably the easiest thing to do or go to MikeKim.com forward slash show and that's going to have the player there and all the links to subscribe through your favorite app. You're probably listening to us on your favorite app right now, so just open that up. Type in my name and subscribe to the show and we'll continue the conversation.
Val: 22:20 All right. Thanks so much, Mike. This was awesome to learn about the three p's of marketing and to hear your perspective on creating relationships with your audience. Okay, that's all for today. Thank you for listening in and please join me next week when I continue my conversation with Mike Kim about his strategy for using video in marketing and how he decides what to post on social media. It is so good. You definitely do not want to miss it.
Until then, remember when you know your purpose, you can create a plan and show up with presence on camera every time.
Let’s connect on social media!
Val Brown is an Emmy Award winning television producer, story, visual and personal brand consultant, coach, and speaker. She shows high performing business professionals and entrepreneurs the skills they need to be confident on video to grow their business, influence and authority. Learn more about how Val can help you.
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