How do you position yourself as an expert? How do you talk about yourself online so that other people become interested, not just in following you, but potentially buying from you? How do you sell yourself in a way that's not sleazy? It starts by remembering that you are the only you that exists. Today we're talking with Mike Kim from YouAretheBrandBook.com about how to turn your youness into a personal brand that gets people's attention.
Mike is one of the most genuine people I know. He's been through the ranks and gone through a lot of ups and downs, to now helping people build their brands online. I'm really excited for you to hear this episode — it could be the refresher you need to take hold of who you are and how you position and talk about yourself online. In fact, Mike and I go through an entire blueprint on how to do this yourself. So sit back, relax, and take notes if you need to because this is a great one.
Mike Kim believes marketing isn’t about closing a sale, it’s about opening a relationship. This refreshing approach has made him a sought-after speaker, online educator, and brand strategist for top thought leaders including John Maxwell, Donald Miller, and Dr. Daniel Amen. He is also the author of the bestselling book You Are the Brand. Nowadays you’ll find him looking for the next great place to scuba dive, and occasionally sipping a glass of scotch — all while coaching, serving clients, and recording his hit podcast, The Brand You Podcast.
- Why we all have a personal brand, and why it's not enough if you want to build a business around it
- Mike's thoughts on how Pat has built the SPI brand
- Mike's 8-step brand-building framework
- The power of the question, “Can I build a community around this?”
- Why pricing doesn't automatically determine your positioning
- The “meta skill” Mike applied to his podcasting that made everything else he did easier
- How you can go wrong with being too authentic online
- How Mike's book You Are the Brand can help you build a business around your expertise, ideas, message, and personality
You Are the Brand by Mike Kim
Rise of the Youpreneur by Chris Ducker [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
SPI 496: The #1 Business Superpower You Can Use Today with Mike Kim
How do you actually position yourself as an expert? How do you talk about yourself online so that other people get interested, not just to follow you, but potentially buy from you? How do you sell yourself and do it in a way that's not sleazy? Well, today we're talking with Mike Kim from YouAretheBrandBook.com, and we've spoken to several people here in the past about the idea of the fact that you are 100% original. I learned that from Chris Ducker.
It's like you are the only you that exists. So why aren't we using it to the best of our ability? And his book, Youpreneur was absolutely life-changing. In this book, You Are the Brand by Mike Kim, foreword by Todd Herman, another good friend of mine. Actually, both Mike and Todd are good friends of SPI and of myself. We've had dinners together and I couldn't say enough nice things about Mike.
He's one of the most genuine people I know, and he's been through the ranks. He's done a lot. He's gone through a lot of ups and downs, to now get to a point where he's helping businesses, and specifically people build their brands online. I'm really excited for you to hear this because we talked about things that yes, we've talked about on the show before but just in a different way with different stories and this could be the refresher that you need to really take hold of actually who you are, and how you position yourself and how you talk about yourself online. So sit back, relax, and take notes if you need to. Because this is a great one. We go through an entire blueprint on how to do this with Mike Kim.
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, his favorite color when he was a kid was orange because it was the most fun to say: Pat Flynn!
What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to session 496 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. My name is Pat Flynn, here to help you make more money, save more time and help more people too, and I can't believe we're really close to Episode 500. That is going to be a huge milestone. I'm so thankful for you. We wouldn't have gotten here if it wasn't for you and if it wasn't also for the amazing guests that we've had here on the show before to share their expertise, their knowledge, their wisdom and today, like I said, we're talking with Mike Kim, the author of the book, You Are the Brand book, and you can check it out. YouAretheBrandBook.com, but let's not wait any longer. Let's just dive right in. Here we go.
Mike, what's up? Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Thanks for joining us today.
I am honored to be here, honored to be with everyone who's listening. Hope to add some value today.
I'm sure you will, because you always do every time we have a conversation and here we are now finally recording one for everybody to listen to. A little background for those who don't know who you are. I'd love to have you explain a little bit about how you got into online business and where you got your start.
Yeah, sure. Of course, I've got to give props to you because your podcast, SPI here was one of the very first I listened to.
Dude, maybe seven, eight years ago when I was working in a corporate job, like so many of us have had in our journey as part of our story. I really came from a marketing background. I was working as a CMO of a company just outside of Manhattan, and I enjoyed the job but I also didn't. I really craved freedom. I wanted to have locational independence and be able to work my own hours, all typical stuff that we've always all wanted, but I really niched down into copywriting.
That was really my specialty and as I focused on that over the years, I started attracting higher profile clients as a freelancer, started putting myself out online and now there's two sides really to the business. One is as an online educator through my podcasts and courses, and so on and so forth. The private client side has been running launches, writing copy or doing brand strategy for thought leaders, people who are in the thought leadership expert space information products.
I think what's been really fun for me is to market people. This phrase personal branding is now kind of commonplace and people are like, "What is that?" And it's identity. A personal brand is your identity. It's a carefully crafted, or at least intentional identity made up of your ideas, your expertise, your reputation, your personality.
Now, we all have that personal brand, but the challenge is building a business around it. So we all have reputations now, we all have our Instagram profiles, everyone's got, "a brand," but building a business around it was a struggle for me when I started. I got bits and pieces, obviously I gleaned a lot of wisdom from you and the show. This pathway just kind of found me and this is what I've used over the last probably six, seven years to help a lot of people do this.
So how do we define the difference between you showing up online and being the brand essentially versus an actual business behind it? What are the first steps in terms of approaching it that way?
I see it in a couple steps, but the first and foremost is just having a point of view. I know that sounds like what? Like a point of view, but I think a lot of folks who come out of corporate were very, very regimented backgrounds. Law, healthcare, government, education. They get their wrist slapped. Dude, anytime they say something and voice an opinion, they get the wrist slapped. So I've found that you can tell people, "Launch a product or create a course or do a mastermind," but a lot of folks get wary of that where they don't ever get to that point because they're not confident in what they think, or what they even see.
What I do to help them start coming up with a point of view and digging through that is I asked three simple questions, and I call these the personal brand three. I'm from Jersey, so I'm a little salty. It's not bad language, but I ask them, "What really ticks you off? What breaks your heart, and what's the big problem you're trying to solve?" I like to pull on emotional language because when you ask someone what ticks them off, that's really the injustice they see in the world.
What breaks their heart is the compassion they have for the world or for people and what's the big problem you're trying to solve, you and I know this, that's business. Business is nothing more than solving a problem for a profit. When you can get the answers to these three questions, somewhere in the intersection of those things lies the answer or the message of your brand, which then leads to step two, which is telling personal stories.
We know that storytelling is huge in marketing. I know your story. That's what gravitated me to you when I first discovered you and so many others now here on the show, but a lot of people hear a marketing guy like me say, "Tell stories," and they don't even know what to say, or they don't know how to tell them.
So they really stem from the answers to those questions and then we go just step by step, and as you go into step three, which is platform, you share your stories, you share your point of view, and then that's when it really turns and shifts into business. So there's a couple more steps there that I can outline, but I've found that these steps proceed really launching a product and sometimes we stumble into it, but it's really important to help people through those steps.
Great. I think it's a nice reminder, because we often just jump into something or we see other people promoting stuff and we're like, "Okay, let's just make a book or let's make a course or let's start my coaching program," but I love that you're focusing on well, who are we and what do we stand for? That's such an important point of view.
I heard that for the first time from Ramit Sethi, actually. It's like you need to have some sort of, like you said, point of view or something to stand for or else, who's going to stand with you? Because they don't even know what you stand for. So there's a little Hamilton reference there. Can you give us an example of a company or a brand or person, for example, and what their point of view is, and perhaps their story, and then how the platform sort of adds on top of that?
Well, you know what, I'll just use you as an example. Here we are, we're talking and you've been in the space now, and the space has matured over all of these years. I remember one of the conversations we had a little while ago, obviously before today, was I think we were on a Clubhouse room or something. And we were talking about how people are building their personal brands. And I think one of our friends, Ray, was moderating in the room.
Pat, what I see and I think what has been so awesome about you is that you've shied away from doing what a lot of people do or think you have to do. What I see in a lot of the personal branding space where this solopreneur space or this platform-based space is that on one extreme, people just present a false view of themselves. They just flat-out think image is all that matters.
Let's get the Lamborghinis, let's rent a mansion on Airbnb and stage a photo shoot and kind of imply that it's our house. Those people don't understand attention is owed. It's not earned. They feel like attention is owed, but attention is earned, not owed. Then on the flip side, and again, these are extreme examples.
You have other people who are oversharing, in the name of authenticity. I love that concept of authenticity, but people are taking it too far. They're sharing too much information, or they're oversharing and trying to sell their struggles and they're not really fixing a problem, or they're not really leading the way.
I've never heard anybody say that you could be too authentic. I want to dig a little bit deeper into that. Does that mean I'm sharing too much of my life with people or does that mean I'm giving away too much information, whereas I could instead be selling that information? What do you mean by too authentic?
I think what I mean by that is there's a difference, and this may help and this really helped me just on a personal standpoint. There's a difference between being authentic and being uber transparent with people. I think transparency is reserved for the very, very special people in our lives. A couple years ago, I went through some really, really rough stuff in my personal life. You and I talked about that because we're friends, but I didn't go blast that out on Facebook and social media and things like that.
Because you get attention when you post content like that, but it's like the attention that you pay to a car wreck when you're driving down I5. It's very short lived. Another real weird ... I don't know why people do this, but it's an example. It's just off the top of my head, where they've fallen that day and got a really bad cut or scratch and they post a photo of that on Facebook and it's just like jarring.
You're like, I don't want to see that. That's not cool. So the level of authenticity ... Authenticity means, "Hey, Mike, how are you doing?" If it was a couple years ago it was like, "I'm hanging in there, man. It's a little rough. I'm going through some stuff, but it's rough, but I'll be okay." I'm not pretending like I'm not okay, but I'm also not dumping and asking a complete stranger to hold a ton of space.
I see people do that a lot and what I really advocate for and maybe this will help sort it out is, the litmus test I use a lot now with myself and with my clients, colleagues, is, hey, ask yourself this super simple question. Is what I'm sharing, is what I'm building, is what I'm saying online, can I build a campfire around it?
What I mean by that: is it warm, is inviting? Is it something that you can build a community around? Even if you're struggling, even if you've had hard times the authenticity behind a message like that, me hearing your story when you started out, you left the firm, and then you publish the book, and you just kind of stumbled your way through it and you were being authentic, but you weren't like, "This is the email they sent me."
What I'm advocating for is, hey, be somebody that people really want to follow, because you're giving space to people to gather around. Can you build a campfire around it? You are the brand. Don't just build a brand, don't just build an image of a brand, but be the person, become the person that you are really trying to sell to people.
It's a call to say, hey, we can get better, we can work on ourselves. Entrepreneurship has a very, very interesting way of revealing the best parts of us, but also the parts that are a little bit rough. My point is, don't hide behind image. Do the hard work that's required and I think you're a testament to that. You really are. I can reverse engineer all of that, in all these years that have known and followed your work. I think that's why you built a big reason as to why so many people love you, man.
Thank you, I appreciate that, and I think just be real. Be real, and you're going to attract the right kind of people versus maybe, you'd be attracting people, but they're not going to be the people who are going to go to bat for you when you really need some help. I'd love to continue this conversation with regards to those who are listening to this. They might be thinking, well, I don't really want to be the brand. I know how important showing up is in developing relationships, but I'm shy. I'm an introvert, I would much rather be behind the scenes, but I still want to create a business. Does that mean that I am doomed to fail right from the start, or how do I approach this in a different way?
It's a great question because believe it or not, I'm an introvert and I struggle with being out in front on camera. I think some of the other steps that I'll share actually don't have to do with being out front. What I mean by a brand is that we have an identity. We have a reputation that we hold. Your friends at work know you're very differently from your real friends that you grew up with, close friends that you grew up with. My point is that we all have this identity.
When it comes to our businesses, when we're starting businesses, even if you don't want to be out front, I didn't do that early on. I was a freelance copywriter, but these next steps, which after I formed a point of view, had some stories to share. This is why I love freelance copywriting. This is why I got into the space.
Once I started my little blog, humble little blog and humble little podcast, I shared a few things on these various platforms. I really had to start thinking in terms of business and the fourth step is really, how did I want to position myself? Your positioning is determined by where you sit relative to your competition.
We all have competition. Sometimes it's direct competition. Sometimes it's indirect competition. This is more though than just being like a high end versus mass market thing. One of the examples I always use is that there's a big difference between Louis Vuitton and Walmart. Both companies make a lot of money, but they make them in very different ways, and if you don't understand your positioning, we can stroll down to Louis Vuitton in Beverly Hills, and they do not know the meaning of the word discount. It's not in their vocabulary.
Whereas you go into Walmart, and they're very intentional about the wording they use because they're positioned as a general retailer. Understand your positioning then allows you, and this is where a lot of us start, and then get hung up because we haven't thought about these previous steps. Once you understand your position, then you know what kind of products to create and step six, you know how to price those products. Step seven, you know how to pitch them and that's where copywriting and salesmanship comes into play.
Then finally, you have partners, that's the eighth step. What I've found is that whenever there's a breakdown somewhere along this framework, it's usually because a previous step hasn't really been thought through. Imagine, I just write a book. I don't really know my position in the market. I don't have any real stories to tell. I haven't really thought through my point of view. I'm just sharing tactical information. It doesn't resonate, it doesn't stick. It doesn't align with people. So just thinking through these steps is something that's really, really important and I've seen just a lot of people get frustrated because they haven't thought through them.
I think the positioning step is really, really key, and with how much information there is there now available to anybody, we could find any information anywhere. So it's important to know that beyond the information and beyond the what, it's the who behind it, just like we're talking about, but position does that mean, you're Louis Vuitton, Walmart example, does that mean position in terms of who it is you're targeting or what is it that you're offering or are we talking niching down here and how does one do that? How do you even know what position you should be in?
I remember this story a couple years ago. I was at this business networking dinner and I was sitting next to this guy. He was the owner of the largest commercial moving company in the state of Connecticut. So, dude, I go to him, I go, "Hey, Steve, how's business going?" He goes, "Oh, Mike, you've always got to pay attention to the competition." I assumed he meant other moving companies. I was like, "What do you mean? Are there a lot of other companies? I thought you guys were the big fish in the market."
He's like, "No, my competition is anyone who has a friend who has a pickup truck," and he just kind of laughed. I was like, "Oh, that's interesting." What I learned from that is that if you don't really have a clear position, you open yourself up and your market up, the people that you're targeting to folks that can be very easily distracted.
Another story that really exhibited positioning to me. Not too long ago, I was in London for the first time and I got to meet one of the designers for this really high-end fashion brand, Burberry. We all know their trench coats, their scarves, those checkered patterns. It's a very high-end brand, and she was showing me around the marketing district in downtown London.
She goes, "Hey, I don't know if you knew this, but the biggest moneymaker for Burberry this past year or so," when we met was their lower-cost bag. The reason the lower-cost bags sold so well was because Burberry was positioned as a higher end. They knew their positioning. So they had this identity, this reputation, this place in the market's mind and yet when they down priced the bag to 600 bucks, and it became much more affordable to the everyday person, that's the thing that sold the most.
So I think where people go wrong is they automatically assume price determines your positioning. It doesn't. It's something that you have to think a little bit deeper about. It's not just price, because if that was the issue, then sure, Burberry, they would never lower their price. They just were able to play with and had flexibility with their identity in the marketplace and over the last couple of years, you've seen this happen a lot in the expert space, where there are folks who have really big followings, really big platforms.
They have high end coaching, they have high end masterminds and courses, and so on and so forth, but then they'll release a product that's affordable to the everyday person who might be a planner. We have some mutual colleagues who do really well selling different types of journals and planners, but a lot of the reason as to why that works so well is because the positioning of the brand is high to begin with.
There is an identity that they have in the market that is high, and then when they offer a product that's a little bit more affordable, it just blows up. It does really, really well. I hope that sheds a little bit of light. It's not just pricing, but there's a lot of stories that we see in this happen in business that a lot of us in the solopreneur space don't know about or don't consider and it really sets us up to have all these other things in our brand determining our positioning, rather than us determining our position from the outset.
That was similar to my next question, which was when you're in this process of building your brand online and such, when it comes to positioning, is it like, okay, before I go out there, I'm just going to write down my mission statement and my values and that is going to be my position, or is this something that needs time to be massaged and figure out like playdough, or is this coming from externally or how do you nail that?
There are three things that I look at when I look at the identity of a brand to help in their positioning. This is one of the things I talk quite often about, and these are in no particular order, but they're like three legs on a tripod. If one of them is off, it feels totally off.
Yeah. Even though that's a great product, and I use it all the time, it's right over there, but you got the visual identity and that's what we normally think about branding. Exactly how it looks. Your photos, your colors, your fonts. There's a verbal identity, which is how you talk, how a certain brand talks. This is why again, Louis Vuitton doesn't use the word discount in any of their marketing.
They have a verbal identity. The third identity is really their value identity. That's the positioning. Now, when you start out, it's sometimes really difficult to figure out where you want to be in the market. When I started out, I was wrestling a lot with this, and I had to realize one day that it really started with determining who I wasn't.
So I drew this little graph, and I don't know where I got this. I think I was just frustrated, I was just trying to map out stuff. I asked myself, I'm in marketing, I'm in branding, I have this C-suite job. I clearly know a few things about marketing. Who do I want to target?
I drew on this little four by four graph, this x axis, y axis. At the top, I put the word marketers. Do I want to speak to professional marketers, or do I want to speak to non marketers? That right there just really helps me. Because I realized the folks out there who speak to marketers, these are guys like Social Media Examiner, ClickFunnels. These are the brands that professional marketers like me read and pay attention to.
Then there was a whole market of people who were non marketers, they were professionals in other areas. They were coaches, consultants, speakers, you name it, but they were looking for marketing information for their own businesses. I looked at other businesses like Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch, great book for the everyday small business owner. Copyblogger, Brian Clark, I just loved their content, because it was so written to small business owners.
So they were speaking to non marketers, but that wasn't enough. I had to think, do I want to teach huge strategies, big strategies, campaign strategies, or do I want to teach tactics and I know that a lot of people use those words interchangeably. So let me just share a little bit what I mean. Tactics for me were like little practices that you could use quickly to change an outcome.
If we think about it in military terms, you've got an overall campaign strategy and then within that you have tactics. We're going to use this fort, we're going to use those rocks. So I saw these companies who are teaching tactics, Duct Tape Marketing, Copyblogger, QuickSprout, Neil Patel, great guy, HubSpot, Social Media Examiner, and I realized I could not compete with those guys because they had teams of writers. They had millions of hits, ton of traffic, where they could teach stuff on split testing button colors, open rates and stuff and I was just a solopreneur.
That was such a relief to me, Pat, because I was like, oh, QuickSprout, HubSpot, Social Media Examiner, Duct Tape, all these guys, they're in the marketing space as well but they're not my direct competitors. They're not, and that took a load of weight off of my shoulders. I didn't have to do split tests, blog posts and all this kind of crazy stuff. I could focus on strategies for non marketers.
Then when I thought about strategies for marketers, these were like the global ad agencies. These were like Ogilvy and Mather. These were the big agencies that are out there and the big data firms that are running political campaigns. I just found my little corner of the market, where I was focused on non marketers, teaching them brand strategy, which is stuff that I did for my company, the company I work for, the small business and I was able to just unpack those.
Then I found that the folks who were starting to follow me were people who wanted to become solopreneurs, who wanted to become coaches, consultants and honestly, I would say that that was just because I was in the communities that I was learning, blogging, and podcasting in. They were like, "Hey, you know a little bit about marketing. Do you think you can help me on this?"
I'm like, "I market a business. It's like an educational company," but then I started to overlay that with the things I knew from work for this new client base and that's really how it kind of took off. Just to tie a bow on that, when I was talking about positioning there, I was very intentional early on. I did know this. I was going to make sure that I told people that I was the CMO of the company.
That was not just for them, but it was for me. It was to remind myself that, hey, you have a good job. You are paid well, you're rewarded well for this job. You clearly know things. You do not necessarily need to become Walmart in this space, because you have a title at work. So I really, really used that as a guideline for when I created my visual identity. I wanted it to look like how an executive's website would look.
My verbal identity, when I wrote the content on my website and in my podcast, I was authentic, I was warm, I tried to be friendly, because that's just kind of how I am but I also didn't want to use language that would make them feel that I wasn't really professional. It was just the way that I chose to establish my positioning and that helped me really, really establish that in the years to come.
Thank you. That's really helpful. One of the steps we just breezed over but I want to go back to because this is oftentimes a struggle in terms of choice and I'm talking about platform, especially today 2021. There's a lot of choices. There's literally everything from TikTok, to Instagram, to blogging, to video, to podcasting, or podcasting plus video, and where does one begin to, especially at the start of their journey, wrap their head around all the different places they could share their point of view on? How do we do that in a way that is A, going to help us reach the people we should reach, but also B, not be super overwhelming, or feel like we're getting left behind, because we're not everywhere.
This is honestly what I tell my clients. I say, "Pick the platform that's most fun for you," because and here's why, there's a method to my madness. I still have friends who have no idea what I do. These are friends who've known me for like 20 years. They're like, "I don't understand how you make money. I don't understand what you do for a living." I'm like, "Dude, why don't you just share some thoughts?"
They're like, "What do you mean, share some thoughts?" So what they just said right there, for me as a coach, I recognize, okay, they're struggling even to express themselves, because they don't do that day to day at work. Then if I were to say, "Hey, why don't you go on LinkedIn, and share your thoughts." They're like, "I don't even use LinkedIn. I don't even know how to use it," And now I'm asking them to overcome a second hurdle, which is to learn a technology or a platform that they don't use every day.
So then I just rewind it back. I'm like, "Okay, hey, what social media channel do you use the most, or do you watch YouTube or do you like podcasts? Which one do you do the most?" They're like, "Oh, I love Instagram." Let's say for example. I was like, "Great, great. Let's share your thoughts on Instagram."
Then Pat, they go, "No way, dude. I don't take these influencer type pictures. I don't have any good photos or anything like that. I don't know even how to write a caption on Instagram." I say, "Oh, no, they have this great feature, Instagram stories. It's not artistic. You just show up and talk and it doesn't matter." All I'm really trying to do with that person at that juncture is to reduce the friction that it takes for them to learn the first most important step, which is to just express themselves, and to share their point of view.
So if they're using Instagram every day, that's what I'm going to ask them to start with, even if their people aren't there, because they're not going to quit their job tomorrow. They're not going to launch their business tomorrow. It's, hey, let's use this time to develop an exercise that muscle of self-expression. For me when I started back in 2013, I was still working my day job. I took this approach, and it was inspired by this like Chinese restaurant I went to when I was in college, that I went to all the time and I lived near there at the time.
They had this thing on the wall that was always talking about the Chinese zodiac. The year of a certain animal. The horse, the rat, and so forth. I just decided, I was like that makes a lot of sense. I should maybe spend this first year learning one platform and learning how to do this and because I was more of a writer, I did not want to be on camera. I did not podcast.
I listened to podcasts, but at the time I was reading a lot of blogs. I was reading your blogs, some other people's blogs. So I said in 2013, this will be the year of the blog. Hell or high water, a blog post is coming out on Monday morning. I did that religiously, even though nobody read it.
Three in the morning, sometimes I was like, "I've got to publish this blog and share it." So I did that. Then in 2014, I decided this is the year I'm going to launch a podcast, but I never stopped blogging and actually blogging really helped me become a better podcaster. I was a better copywriter. I understood some of the back end that I need to understand from a technical standpoint to get the podcast published, and so on and so forth.
I just started learning these skills on podcasting. Now, I'd been a musician. I had been a speaker, but podcasting was way harder than I imagined. I don't know how it was for you. I was like, oh, this is going to be easy. I've spoken on stage before. Then I sit down and there's nobody in the room and I'm just talking to a wall and I'm like, "I suck."
I learned I have to bring 100% of the energy when I do a podcast because there's nobody in the room, but that helped me do webinars, that helped me do Zoom calls. That was like a meta skill that made everything else following that so much easier. In 2015, I launched group coaching programs and masterminds and they filled up because I had done a year of podcasting, two years of blogging, and that's actually the year that I went full time in 2015.
Every year after that, sure, I was learning a lot of little things, but I really made it a goal to learn one platform or one particular discipline. 2016, I launched products, I did my first online courses. 2017, I launched an event. Those were my first business events, workshops. 2018, I started speaking at conferences a lot more. 2019, I started adding video to the mix because I felt good with podcasting and blogging and I finally felt good enough to put my face on YouTube.
So I started toying around with video and last year, of course, was writing this book and this year's talking about the book. I think what happens, to your point is that folks see us or people like us or other people in the space and they are, like you said, seemingly everywhere all at once and they don't realize that this was sometimes a 7, 8, 9 year journey. I've never forgotten this one quote that Gary Keller, the guy from the real estate company said.
He said, "Success is sequential, not simultaneous." That really guided me. My honest, heartfelt encouragement to anyone who's confused and overwhelmed by all these platforms, start with what's the most natural for you, the platform you're most familiar with. Exercise and be patient with yourself, but exercise that muscle of expressing yourself. Especially if you're still working a full-time job, or you feel buried with the kids and family.
You need to exercise that muscle first and then you'll be able to learn a platform. You don't want to overwhelm yourself by trying to figure out all the algorithms on six different social media channels, three different camera feeds and lighting and all that and then you realize, I don't know what to say, because I've never exercised that. That's really my advice. Start with what's the most fun, and the most easy to express yourself on and then go from there.
Thank you for that, Mike. That was a beautiful answer. When we start to create a business out of what we're doing online, oftentimes, people struggle to allow themselves to accept money. It's selling out to sell. How do you respond to somebody who is struggling with selling?
There's a couple of things with selling, but I think where that comes in is that we have to first be honest with ourselves. That's where it always starts. Just really be honest with yourself and if you want to make money, admit it, it's okay. Now, where I find that people struggle Pat is that they say, "I feel like I'm selling out," but what they're really saying is, I want to be adequately rewarded, but I also want to be liked. I don't want to feel hate from people. I'm having trouble pricing things.
This is why in the framework that I teach, pricing comes a little bit later, because if you figure out your positioning, your products, all this stuff, it takes care of itself, but a couple of things on a pricing and I think this has really helped me over the years. So this is some of the stuff that I share. The first principle that I share, it's because I get this question a lot.
How much should I charge or how much should I charge per hour? Do I even charge an hourly rate? I know that with all the folks, you guys are listening today, all different types of businesses represented. I grew up in New Jersey, like I told you, and traffic is really bad there. So I had this little principle that I teach called the traffic from hell hourly price.
It's like, if I called you up, and you had to drive through 30 minutes of the worst traffic from New Jersey going into New York City, and I've done that a million times in my life. Pick up a check and drive back, how much money would that need to be? I'm talking the most stand still life sucking traffic you'd ever find. Like bumper to bumper for half an hour, pick up a check, bumper to bumper, back.
When I asked clients, "You told me your rate is $100 an hour, would you drive across the GW bridge into Manhattan to pick up $100 from me and then drive back to New Jersey?" They're like, "No." I'm like, okay, well, that's a starting point. I'm not saying that any number is arbitrary, but that's at least the starting point.
"How about for 200? Would you do it?" "I don't think so." "What about 500?" "Yeah, I'd consider." "What about 1,000?" "Oh, yeah, I'd definitely do it." Okay, let's at least narrow that down and use that as a starting point. So many of us don't even have a starting point, that we're just, all we do now is look at what other people are charging, and then come up with our price that way. We don't really take into account that our business is there to serve us, not for us to just serve the business.
I at least start there. So if someone gives me an honest answer, "Hey, an hour of my time driving across the GW Bridge for traffic, would be 500 bucks." Cool. Let's at least start there. I did that with one-on-one coaching calls. I started to do that with contract work, and so on and so forth and those prices have changed over the years, but that's at least a starting point.
Another way that I teach folks to price their services or their products is to just simply create a three by three grid, like nine boxes, and across the top, you're going to have the amount you're going to charge. Up and down the side, it's the level of service you're going to provide and this is in the book. So this alone may just make it easy for you guys to understand if you pick it up, but a lot of us just have one price, we just have one rate and we don't take into account the level of service and we don't take into account the amount we're going to charge.
Let's say that I say like you're good, better, best. Silver, gold, platinum, whatever that represents the level of service. What is the least amount of money that you would offer the best service that you provide? So this might be someone who calls me and says, "Mike, we want you to write every single word of our entire product launch." What's the least amount of money I would do that for?
Maybe write into the little box there, $25,000 and if it was a regular fee that I was charging and business was good and I didn't really need the contract or whatnot, I might write $50,000. A windfall amount for the best level of service that I could provide might be $150,000 and those are all different amounts that I've charged clients.
What I've realized, Pat is that, if we don't ever set a windfall amount, we will never get a windfall contract. You can apply this to courses and products. So instead of me writing the launch, maybe that's the best level of service I can provide. Maybe the mid range of service I can provide is a copywriting course and a launch strategy course and some coaching calls. What's the least amount of money I would charge for that? I write something down.
What's the regular amount that I would charge? Write that down. What's the windfall amount that I would charge? Boom, write that down, and I'm seeing this all right in front of me. The standard level of service might be just copywriting swipe files that I sell. So what's the least amount I would charge for that? Maybe it's $79. What's the regular amount I would charge for these swipe files? It might be 200, $300. What's the windfall amount? I'd love to sell them for $700, and now we at least have a visual.
Dude, what happens is when I do this with people, and they actually map this out, I'm like, "Hey, do you see the amount you're charging for this is the same as that level of service at a windfall amount?" They're like, "Oh, my gosh, I didn't even realize that." Now, let's trace it back. You told me that you're positioning in the market, you want to be Louis Vuitton in the market. "Yeah, but Mike, I don't really know if I have that kind of reputation, or anything like that. I'm not really sure how to do that."
What I tell people in that scenario is, you need to explain to the prospect or to the client, what level you're at. So I can go into that for a moment, but does that make sense right there, like, how to price that?
Yeah, it almost is like, I've been diving into stocks a lot and a lot of analysts come out with reports and these reports always have like a bear case, and a bull case and then like a super bull case. So we can kind of at least ... Even though in 99% of the cases, they're not going to be exactly right, it at least gives us perspective on where things are dependent on what the company is doing and how it's performing. I feel like it's very, very similar in that case, and I love the matrix idea and thinking about the different levels of service, and the prices that you charge. I think if a lot of people did that, like you said, with your clients, you start to realize, oh, my gosh, I'm only charging $100 an hour. That's not even on here. What am I even doing? I'm not even valuing myself.
I love that you mentioned that because when you got started in looking at stocks, it's kind of overwhelming. I'm looking at crypto now and everything, like everybody else in the world, and it's a little overwhelming. For us as the service providers sometimes or even when we're selling our courses or products, just you realize you may be someone's first.
I ran into this a lot of times where some prospects would contact me or some buyers of a program would legitimately have questions. They would email me about a course that I was promoting. This was the very first time that they'd ever done this. and I would often ask them, whether email or on the phone or whatever, "What are your expectations in working with a paid copywriter?"
If they respond like, "I don't know, I don't know what to expect," then I'd just asked them, "Kindly speaking, what do you know about the different levels of copywriters?" They would say, "Oh, Mike, I'm not really sure. I honestly don't know." So it's like, okay, let me frame this out. A level 10 copywriter is somebody who might charge $25,000 just for the consultation, $150K to write the campaign, plus a few percentage points as a commission from the sales of the product. I will say these are guys like Dan Kennedy, I don't know if you've heard of him, but he wrote ProActive campaigns.
Jay Abraham who turned around Icy Hot, these guys are like a level 10. A level one writer would be someone who would just charge you between like $1,500 to $3,000, but doesn't really have any real experience. Then when I started out, I would tell them, "I'm like a level seven going to a level eight." Even that right there is an honest, it's an authentic conversation that allows us to frame our fees and more importantly, it allows us to frame how we're coming across so we don't feel like a seller.
I'm always advocating for the business owner first, for the people who are listening to us first. Hey, I want you to do the inner work to really understand your own value, and this is also a positioning tool. I'm not Jay Abraham or Dan Kennedy, but I'm not a slouch either. I've said this to clients like Don and John Maxwell and these folks, and it really serves them to understand how I'm going to show up, my level of experience and then after those clients, I've said the same thing to other clients and when I can say, a little bit of my body of work, or I have a podcast that's reached this many people or courses that have helped this many people, it really helps you get away from feeling like I'm selling out, or I'm pricing things just in a totally random way and I don't really have an idea of what I want to charge. So I hope that really helps so many of us get an idea.
Probably the best discussion I've had about pricing here on the show ever. That's really great, Mike. Thank you for that. I do want to give a shout out to your book. I mentioned it in the intro. Tell us about the book, You Are the Brand. We've discussed a lot of the things that you've talked about in the book, but obviously you go much deeper into it. Who is it for and where can we get it?
So you can get the book at YouAretheBrandBook.com, and really it's about building a business around your expertise, your ideas, your message, and your personality, but we all have to realize that we are the brand. You are the brand. It's no secret, more people than ever before are building businesses based around their personal brand. Why are some people creating six or even seven, multiple seven figure businesses while others are striving to make like a consistent income?
We touched on some of that today, and it's really this eight step blueprint that the book walks you through. How to identify and showcase your unique expertise, pricing stuff that we covered today. One of the big things, Pat in the book I talk about is that the most effective marketing strategy is simply tell the truth, and I think people are hungry for that.
They just really want a level of real authenticity, but they also want leadership. So it's just a challenge to higher integrity, authenticity in this world of social media and so forth and it's really for people who want to launch out into an expert business and want to see how businesses are built. Some of us who have made it especially in the early years, we just stumbled through this stuff. You used to say all the time, you're the crash test dummy and I loved that, but now, as I've worked with a lot of these brands, a lot of these thought leadership brands, this is a framework that I didn't create.
It more felt like it found me just because of the years and years of work that I'd done with these folks and I saw what made sense. So that's what the book's about. If you're really interested in building a business around your expertise, something that lasts a long time, not just a year or two, but longevity in this space, I hope you'll pick it up.
Thank you, Mike. Where can we go grab it? Amazon or I think you mentioned URL.
It's everywhere. YouAretheBrandBook.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all the regular bookstores. It's all in there. So you can grab that.
I think it at the time of this episode coming out, it just came out yesterday. So congrats to you, my friend. Welcome to the world of publishing books.
It was hard to do. I don't know how you felt. Oh, man.
Every time, and it doesn't get easier.
It doesn't get easier.
Thank you. Thank you. Dude, thanks so much for having me and for all of you listening today, I hope you found this conversation just real helpful. Thank you so much.
Absolutely. Super grateful. Thanks, Mike.
I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Mike Kim. You can find Mike at MikeKim.com, on Twitter @MikeKimTV, and of course YouAretheBrandBook.com, available everywhere, which is awesome and congrats on the book, Mike. I appreciate you and thank you for adding to the library of books and knowledge and just inspiration out there for people who need to hear this. Of course today with the creator, economy just in full stride right now, this is the perfect time to learn about how we can position ourselves to not just, again, build followings, but to have fans and to have those fans perhaps transact with us in small and big ways and refer us to other friends, other family members, other communities over time. This is big stuff. This is big stuff and I would imagine this could be an episode that you could listen back to with your team, your colleagues.
So make sure to share it, if you can. SmartPassiveIncome.com/session496 for the share link and also where all the show notes and links for everything mentioned here in this episode are going to be available. So again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/session496. Cheers, peace out, and as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.