EP290: Personal Branding 101 With Leonard Kim | Influence Tree

In this episode, Stacy sits down with Leonard Kim, who is the Managing Partner of Influence Tree, a full stack digital marketing firm. He is also an author, a speaker, as well as a personal branding expert and he has won numerous awards for his work. The two discuss Leonard’s inspirational road to success, and how he went from living on his grandmother’s couch, to becoming the powerful and prosperous expert he is today. Leonard shares why he believes there’s a “step-by-step” process in building a personal brand. The two also touch on the importance of taking a break. while maintaining your drive to improve and do better.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.Stacy Jones (00:13):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today, and want to give a very warm welcome to Leonard Kim. Leonard is the Managing Partner of Influence Tree, a full stack digital marketing firm, and is a personal branding expert who has won numerous rewards for his work. He is also the author of Ditch The Act, revealing the power of the real you for greater success, and his TEDx Talk, Why You Should Let Your Fears Guide You, has been internationally recognized as one of the best TEDx Talks by Forbes Inc. and Mashable.Stacy Jones (00:48):
Today, Leonard and I are going to be chatting about digital marketing and personal branding. We’ll learn what works from Leonard’s perspective, what should be avoided, and how some businesses and people just miss the Mark. Leonard, welcome. So happy to have you get today.Leornard Kim (01:00):
Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure, Stacy.

Stacy Jones (01:03):
Well, I am delighted because I love talking digital marketing and I really like talking about personal brands, because I think that means so much today and you can’t actually go into enough to have people understand that importance of a business now. But what I’d love to do is start off having you share how you got to here today? What’s your history? What was your path to the now?

Leornard Kim (01:28):
So in life, I try a lot of things. If you watched the Ronny Chieng Special on Netflix, he kind of talks about how Asians are obsessed with money, and they want to try to figure out how to make a lot of it. So I spent most of my life trying to figure that out, and I tried a lot of different things. Some at the wrong time, like in 2008, I tried doing real estate and the whole market crashed, and I’m like, “Oh, you know what? That kind of sucks.”

Leornard Kim (01:55):
After that, I was like, “I heard you can make a lot of money in the stock market. If real estate’s not it, maybe I’ll go try that.” So went and did that, and about three months later, that company crashed too. And I started working at a few different startups, doing digital marketing, but they were underfunded or they put too much on payroll, and things outside of our control kind of made those things fail.

Leornard Kim (02:21):
So I was like, “Why can’t I get a job in marketing? This is so hard for me to get. Is it because I don’t have a degree? What is it?” So for a temporary amount of time, I ended up kind of losing everything I had. I didn’t pay my electricity bill for about six months. I was showering in the dark. I had to go to the hallway to plug in my phone into the charger of the apartment complex, just to get a charge because I’m like, “I have no money. I don’t know what to do.”

Leornard Kim (02:48):
And I was at a place of complete defeat, where I was absolutely clueless of what to do. So I eventually got evicted. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I called my mom and she’s like, “Call grandma.” I’m like, “But she disowned me when I was 16. She’s not going to take care of me.”

Leornard Kim (03:02):
She actually calls me and she starts crying. She picks me up, takes me in, lets me stay at her place. For about two months, I’m just there relaxing, getting all the drama on my system. Then she yells at me and she’s like, “Go get a job.”

Stacy Jones (03:18):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (03:19):
[inaudible 00:03:19] I’m living the best life. So I don’t know, Asian grandparents are kind of like that tiger parent. So it’s kind of scary when they yell at you, so I took the first job I could, which was the first job that responded to me on Craigslist. It was a company that sold a $50 membership. They give you happy hour pricing all day. We never actually launched the product because we didn’t have enough funding. We signed up a ton of vendors. But in the whole time I was there, six to nine months, I made like $2,600 or $2,900 total.

Leornard Kim (03:50):
So it was like 300 bucks a month. I was like, “I can’t keep doing this. I can’t keep freeloading off my grandma. I need move back to LA.” So I applied a lot of places, didn’t get any call backs. I just hit up my friend, Denise. I’m like, “Hey, can you just hire me at your job? I don’t really care what I do.”

Leornard Kim (04:05):
So she hires me and I’m working at American Honda as a contractor, not as a full-time employee. So I get paid $16,24 an hour. You lived in LA-

Stacy Jones (04:16):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (04:17):
That’s absolutely unreasonable to live on. So I was taking public transportation for five hours a day, back and forth from work, to go to a job I absolutely hated. And the crazy thing was I kept trying to get promotions and trying to move up, and trying to get a raise. And even my friend who hired me, who was the top person at the… What’s it called? The small company that runs under the bigger company?

Stacy Jones (04:46):
The not parent company. [crosstalk 00:04:48] Okay.

Leornard Kim (04:50):
So she was the big boss there and she was like, “You have to hire him. You have to promote him. You have to promote him.” And they just didn’t give me promotions, and I didn’t know how I was performing, but after three years, they finally digitized and put in all the systems to go and track how well people were performing. And I was at the top, two times everyone else. I’m like, “What the hell?”

Leornard Kim (05:12):
And then all they gave me was a certificate, but I watched 50 people get promoted before me. I’m like, “Okay. So if you put your head down and work, it doesn’t work. If you go and do what people tell you to do, it absolutely doesn’t work because my numbers were twice as high as everyone else, but everyone else got promoted. All I got was a piece of paper.”

Leornard Kim (05:31):
And after that, I was so angry. I decreased my work percentage by 20%. I was still number one, so I decreased it by 20% again, and 20% again. Then 20% again, two more times until I finally got down to number two.

Stacy Jones (05:47):

Leornard Kim (05:49):

Stacy Jones (05:49):
That is quite the story, and that shows you a lot of insight into businesses actually, but you have an upside on all of that.

Leornard Kim (06:00):
Yeah. So I was working at American Honda from 2011 to 2015, and 2013, I realized that my new dream of earning 50,000, $60,000 a year as a Honda Associate wasn’t going to have come true, and that I wasn’t going to be able to retire at a director making 90 grand a year. I think they could actually get paid more, but I assumed that much in my head. And I was like, “What am I going to do?”

Leornard Kim (06:28):
So I tried applying for hundreds of jobs. I got three calls back, no one hired me. I went back to school, to Glendale Community College. Took about 63 credits. Didn’t finish because there’s math, first aid, and PE, but then for gym, they don’t let you bring your phone to the gym. So how do you sit there for two hours and work out when you hate exercise, and you have no music? It’s like impossible, so I don’t think I’ll ever finish that degree.

Leornard Kim (06:56):
The third thing I tried doing is I was reading a lot of content online by my digital mentors like Brian Clark, who’s a copywriter, Neil Patel, who I actually went to high school with. And our first jobs were both at Knott’s Berry Farm picking up trash, it’s so weird. It’s like so similar in everything.

Leornard Kim (07:13):
And then the next thing that happened was I was reading James Altucher’s content, and I was like, “Wow, this guy is so much like me, except for he lost a lot more and made a lot more money than I did.” And in a lot of his content, he’s like, “Just go try something. Go do it, go do it, go do it.” So after a month of reading it, I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to go and market myself now.” But then I had no big accolades or monuments to kind of stand on because I failed my whole life. I’m like, “Maybe I’ll just share.”

Leornard Kim (07:43):
So one time, someone told me, “No one is absolutely useless. You could always serve as a bad example.”

Stacy Jones (07:47):

Leornard Kim (07:48):
I always wanted to just be the [crosstalk 00:07:48].

Stacy Jones (07:48):
So you can always serve as the low Totem full bar. That quite…

Leornard Kim (08:01):
That kind of stuck with me. I’m like, “Maybe I’ll just talk about all my failures and everything not to do with life, to see what works.” And then I asked my friends if I should do it. They’re like, “You’re going to be completely unemployable. No one’s ever going to hire you ever in your life.”

Leornard Kim (08:17):
Within six months of writing, I had 2,000,000 reads on my content. I was making friends with McKenzie Paul, with lawyers and all these venture capitalists, and all these other people. I’m like, “What just happened?” And I was making friends with everyone, and the year-and-a-half, it turned into 10,000,000 reads and about 20,000 followers at the time.

Leornard Kim (08:41):
So around that time in 2013, I built a personal brand website and started my own site and everything. And I started syndicating my content and everything into multiple places. And when I first started doing that, I got offered like 200 bucks to write something. I’m like, “200 bucks, I make $16,24 an hour. This is great.”

Leornard Kim (09:02):
Then it eventually became $500, and became $1,000, and became $5,000, and I’m like, “[inaudible 00:09:07] hours to make $5,000. This is amazing.” Then agreed to the level where I do six to seven-figure contracts, and stuff like that.

Stacy Jones (09:15):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (09:15):
And it’s like, it all just changed. And I’m like, “Oh, that was pretty cool.” On the personal brand forefront though, to be kind of blunt and transparent, is I’ve been writing on the coattails of my success from 2014. And it’s kind of accelerated all the way up to today.

Leornard Kim (09:36):
And just by writing on the coattails of my success, it’s led to me previously writing at Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur, to me being featured in over 300 media publications-

Stacy Jones (09:49):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (09:49):
Press Company, Fortune, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And somehow led to a book deal too. I didn’t really do much, like I said, at the Foundation. And the Foundation kind of propelled me through and it kind of became weird because instead of going out there and hunting for business, it was like businesses came to me and opportunities just came to me, and they’re like, “Here’s the golden spoon. Here you go. Everything you want is yours.” I’m like, “Do you know who I am?”

Leornard Kim (10:21):
And it was like the weirdest thing that happened, but I’m completely appreciative of what happened. And I documented… The interesting thing is writing the book, it was the most debilitating six months of my life because it took so much out of me to go and organize and structure, and exactly define the exact processes of exactly what it is I do, and make it duplicatable.

Stacy Jones (10:43):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (10:46):
Plus it’s not fun to make a $1 from something. And from the whole entire process, I got so burnt out and it caused me to take a two-and-a-half year hiatus from writing because I put so much time and effort and energy, and my blood, sweat, and tears into that project, and about 20 grand too, that I was just so jaded by the project that I didn’t want to promote it when I came out.

Leornard Kim (11:18):
I just barely started promoting the book recently, and kind of worked through those internal struggles with the book.

Stacy Jones (11:25):
So you have done a successful job at failing up, basically, and celebrating your failures, and being relatable to people because you are open and you share, and you’re not guarded, and you’re transparent. And you’re like, “This is my shit, and this is it. This is who I am. So be it,” right?

Stacy Jones (11:47):
But you’ve also been very driven in everything you’ve done except for maybe not promoting the book until now. So what was the turning point? I get your grandmother wanted you to get a job, and I get that you went out, you found a job, and you were going to conquer it. But before that, you were already… you were crazily successful at your company, it just wasn’t recognized, right? [crosstalk 00:12:13].

Stacy Jones (12:13):
So you’ve always been the same person, same hard worker, and somehow harnessed the ability to overproduce in ways that you found success.

Leornard Kim (12:24):
Yeah. Well, I wouldn’t say I was the best at the time. When I was doing marketing at the smaller companies, it was probably where I am now probably in comparison, in-between the beginner to intermediate level, which is pretty good. Most companies have beginner to intermediate level people run everything.

Stacy Jones (12:42):

Leornard Kim (12:42):
And you don’t have to be absolutely amazing at marketing to really make it work. You could be at those levels and make something phenomenal.

Stacy Jones (12:50):
And be consistent in what you’re doing, typically.

Leornard Kim (12:55):
So I think the work ethic kind of came from my mom because she’s lived through a crazy life, and she’s been tossed down so many times, but then she has that oomph where she’s like, “I’ve got to go work and I’ve got to keep doing, and I’ve got to keep going forward.”

Leornard Kim (13:15):
Like in 2001, when 9/11 happened, her small business at the swap meet started to fail, and she was making eight grand a month from bartending in the swap meet, which I don’t know how she made that, but-

Stacy Jones (13:26):
Pretty good. Who knew that many people drank at swap meets? But I guess you would probably buy a lot more at swap meet if you were a little drunk.

Leornard Kim (13:33):
Yeah. So I guess somehow, she made that solid money, but then after 9/11 happened, George Bush would be on TV saying, “Save your money, save your money, save your money.” And a lot of people stopped going out and fueling the economy. So the swap meet ended up getting one-fourth the customers. Things fell apart and we ended up selling all our furniture in our one-bedroom apartment, had two cars repossessed, was eating rice, egg, and soy sauce once a day, sometimes with the sriracha. Just watching her work, it was like, you just have to work in life. It’s like something you have to do, I guess.

Stacy Jones (14:19):
Well, I think that in life, you have to keep moving, and you have to keep growing, and you have to keep doing or you die.

Leornard Kim (14:26):

Stacy Jones (14:26):
I think that’s the alternative. Either you’re moving energy. Any energy has to keep moving or energy at rest is basically death. And so your mom had that to big degrees or, still does.

Leornard Kim (14:36):
I agree with that. But one thing that I found out is in those down times, I’ll usually take like a three month break, a six month break, or maybe like a year break. I make good money now, but then I have people working for me for the stuff that currently exists. So I’ve been chilling this whole year.

Stacy Jones (14:56):

Leornard Kim (14:58):
Kind of went through a divorce process too. That was extremely debilitating, but when you take time to step back and stop, and actually think about things, you’re like, “Whoa.” You kind of get to that next level of where you’re at the next time you go around to do things because you widen your perspective and you get time to really capture the bigger picture.

Stacy Jones (15:21):
And I totally agree with that. I think what I mean by energy stopped growing, and if you stop seeking improvement, I guess.

Leornard Kim (15:30):
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:30]

Stacy Jones (15:30):
Because even your down times in life, you’re opening yourself up to the universe to have improvement be enlightened to you, right? To calm your mind enough to be able to be receptive to what you’ve actually been doing, and probably by doing what you do, you’re probably more in tune than most people because you allow yourself that silence.

Leornard Kim (15:49):
Yeah. And I think because I was working… the year before, I was working like 80 hour weeks, so I was kind of up there in the schedule. I think the growing for me was more going on a hike, being in nature, going to the beach, and kind of refreshing the soul and getting all the toxicity out of the system.

Stacy Jones (16:12):
Reconnecting with yourself.

Leornard Kim (16:13):

Stacy Jones (16:13):
But you’re still moving. There’s still energy there. It’s not like you’re like laying in bed as a sudden lump, never to me emerging again in the days of when you were at your grandmothers.

Stacy Jones (16:26):
So personal branding, you are a brand, obviously. You have a great personality. You have a fun story. You tell it in a good way. You have had people say that… obviously, they’ve honored you with how well you perform at showcasing and sharing really who you are. It’s about a personal brand.

Stacy Jones (16:46):
What do you see that people do that are mistakes with their own personal brands?

Leornard Kim (16:53):
I think the biggest mistake that people make is they’ll look at someone like a Tony Robbins or Gabby Bernstein, who’s like 10 to 20 years in their career. And they’ll try to duplicate what they’re doing that exact day for their content.

Stacy Jones (17:06):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (17:06):
But you have to go and start at step one. You have to build your foundational elements first. They could say what they say because they did that 10, 20 years ago, and then they grew their audience. And then now they could say simple clarify messages and people have that grand affinity with them, where they’re like, “Oh yeah, that makes sense.”

Leornard Kim (17:22):
But then you have to build and establish all that first, and a lot of people jump straight to step 10 and miss out on step one. I’ve really found that there’s an exact step-by-step process that you need to follow to go out there and build a personal brand the right way. So it’s not only immutable, but it lasts through the test of time.

Leornard Kim (17:42):
Like for example, in the last year, I’ve created zero pieces of content, year-and-a-half maybe, under myself personally, I did it for clients, but not for myself.

Stacy Jones (17:51):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (17:53):
I’ve had about a 100 business leads come in the last year alone.

Stacy Jones (17:56):
Because of the historical content that you paved the way for. Our agency, we started vlogging back in 2012 and it was painful, a painful, painful process to learn how to write. But we did one blog a week, then two, then three, then four. And now we’re consistent and have been since 2012 with all things that are in our niche about pop culture.

Stacy Jones (18:17):
And we have over 30,000 readers on a monthly basis. I’m sure it could be a lot more if we actually dialed in and figured out all things digital marketing. That’s not actually our expertise, as in marketing agency, but we get clients from it and they find us on Google, and we’ve established expertise. And it’s something that when we talk to brands who have found us, they are already sold in on at least a little bit of us. It’s a lot less hard and it’s easier to differentiate ourselves from competition.

Leornard Kim (18:51):

Stacy Jones (18:51):
And that’s what you’re talking about with Tony Robbins and everyone else, where they have gone through that. They have built that foundation, and then they’re just continuously need to polish it and maybe enlarge it and expand. But they still have all that historical information that’s back there. And it’s why you don’t have to write necessarily anymore, because your content still serves up today, versus if you just paid to do sponsored advertising somewhere, that would’ve been spending that time, that money, and it’d be gone in a blip.

Leornard Kim (19:23):
Exactly. And that brings up the second mistake that people make. And a lot of people go, “Oh, I’ve got to build my brand on Instagram. I’ve got to build my brand on TikTok.” So how social media platforms work is they’re designed to keep you on the network for as long as possible. They don’t want you to leave. So everything that you’ve built on platform is designed to mostly stay on platform.

Leornard Kim (19:46):
So a lot of people don’t do what you just mentioned, like build a blog, build a content, build a website, build the thought leadership, build the expertise. And if you really want to go out there and win, you think of a Google for strategy, as opposed to a social for strategy, because what’s the biggest company? It’s Google. What do people do the most? Search for things?

Leornard Kim (20:09):
If you have the search functionality down, then you automatically win the social functions too, because it all kind of trickles down from there.

Stacy Jones (20:20):
Yeah. And I loved it when Google had Google+ for a little while. That was the best hidden secret, social media B2B platform known under the sun, because we would take our same content that we would post on Facebook and bring it over to Google+, and then we’d be listed first page in searches because Google prioritized their social posts. They don’t look and search Facebook as Leonard was just saying. They don’t look and search Instagram or TikTok. They’re not serving up that other content, but man, that was such a nice little thing they had that got underutilized by all of what was crashed and burned.

Leornard Kim (20:54):
Nice. One thing that Google started utilizing after they stopped doing the Google+ is Twitter though, which is kind of interesting.

Stacy Jones (21:00):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (21:00):
I’ll put some tweets up in there. YouTube’s really big for it too.

Stacy Jones (21:04):

Leornard Kim (21:05):
Yeah. I’d say another mistake that people make, which there’s this huge assumption out there that if you put the same piece of content in two different places, you’ll get dinged for SEO. It’s like this huge rumor and everyone’s like, “Don’t ever do it. It’s going to ruin you.” And I’m like, I’ve done that for all my content. I put it into every single place. I copy, pasted my client-

Stacy Jones (21:28):
The same. You copy, paste everything. So you’re not worried about hierarchy of your page, having less clout than Medium, or less clout than LinkedIn, or less clout than all these other places, and it still works?

Leornard Kim (21:40):
Yeah. So the reason you do that is because you want to post in on Google first, so it states that you could post like 30 seconds after on the second platform, it doesn’t really matter.

Stacy Jones (21:52):

Leornard Kim (21:52):
It could be a minute, but as long as it’s first on the website, the website’s usually going to rank first.

Stacy Jones (21:58):

Leornard Kim (21:59):
When you post it onto the other platforms, you get their internal audiences. So if you post on Medium, you get the publication’s audience. Or if you post on Quora, you get the followers of the topic’s audience, or if you post on LinkedIn, you get LinkedIn’s audience. And what you want to do is you want to make sure that no matter where the… You know your content is signature content, and it’s going to probably move the needle. So you want to make sure that they consume the content no matter where they are.

Stacy Jones (22:26):
Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Leornard Kim (22:27):
And it doesn’t effect SEO either. Another example is I worked at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California for about four years. We tested this there with… So Keck Medicine is not a well-known brand, but USC is. So I started working there about five years into the renaming of the company, which came from a donor.

Leornard Kim (22:49):
And people were like, “Keck, what’s that? What’s that? What’s that? What’s that? So over four years, we had to run brand campaigns and kind of get people to recognize who we are. And in my role there, it was mostly digital. And my boss did something extremely interesting, something I’ve never seen any boss ever do at a company before.

Leornard Kim (23:06):
I was like, “Hey, go examine everything we’re doing. Look around, talk to people. Don’t tell them you’re going to do anything at all, but just collect all the information you can. And then three months, make a strategy.” [inaudible 00:23:20] Okay. So I was like, “Okay, we should make a blog. We should do this. We should do that.”

Leornard Kim (23:28):
And he’s like, “Yeah. We’re just doing this for fun. We’ll see where it goes. It’s probably not going to work, right?” And one day, when we started creating content, our stuff showed up on page 16 of Google, and we syndicated the content onto Quora too, so it was in two different places.

Leornard Kim (23:46):
But then as two-and-a-half years went by, it’s like one article on first page, second article on first page. Then all our content started moving up to the first page of Google, and we went from 90,000 page views a month to 450,000 page views a month. Our social group from 10,000 to about 250,000.

Leornard Kim (24:07):
The revenue in the company actually went from 900 million to over a billion, not all from my efforts. We had an agency who we work with too.

Stacy Jones (24:15):

Leornard Kim (24:16):
Maybe the few mistakes that were interesting too, that were kind of weird, but-

Stacy Jones (24:20):
Agencies make mistakes? Come on.

Leornard Kim (24:22):
You know the value of SEO, right?

Stacy Jones (24:27):
I think I do. I think it’s HealthBar. My agency make millions of dollars through lovely inbound and Google. Google’s my friend.

Leornard Kim (24:33):
So on the location page, on the native website, that’s one of your most important pages, because if you’re a destination, it shows you exactly where you are.

Stacy Jones (24:42):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (24:43):
So what the ad agency would do is they wouldn’t modify and mock up the existing WordPress location page. Instead, they’ll use a third party vendor and create a fancy design landing page-

Stacy Jones (24:57):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (24:58):
And send ad dollars to that landing page. However, if they made that WordPress page look exactly the same as the template page, which is absolutely doable, and you sent the ad dollars to the location page, your location page gets more clicks. It gets more view times, it gets more page visitors. It gets more priority. Google sees all the clicks. So it prioritizes-

Stacy Jones (25:21):
It ranks you higher because it’s like you’re delivering to the kitty of Google. It’s happy.

Leornard Kim (25:27):
Yeah. But then you’re going to a no link, no follow page. That’s on the either off the web and whatever. That’s not the right thing to do, but yeah, you do what you do.

Stacy Jones (25:43):
Okay. So they had a gated page that was not… it was not indexed by Google, is what you’re saying.

Leornard Kim (25:50):

Stacy Jones (25:51):
And so everyone that they were driving to it through their Facebook advertising, Instagram advertising, paid banner ads, whatever have you, that they were getting people there, it was like they weren’t really being driven. Google wasn’t counting that and seeing how popular they actually were, and Google likes rewarding on popularity [crosstalk 00:26:10]

Leornard Kim (26:11):
An example, I don’t remember the specific name of the company we used because I didn’t really pay attention to it, because I’m like, “This doesn’t work. Why should I pay attention?” It’s like using click funnels as opposed to WordPress. Google doesn’t index click funnel pages.

Stacy Jones (26:25):

Leornard Kim (26:25):
So build your content, you make your page, but if you just copy and pasted that thing on WordPress, you’d actually get SEO results. So most people who build on click funnels are stuck, forced to sell or buy ads to send to their page, when people who build on WordPress are able to get SEO benefits. And it’s weird nuances like that, that a lot of people make.

Stacy Jones (26:47):
But you’re saying you could build on click funnels or on other landing pages with content, let’s just say content, and you can replicate it on other platforms, including your own, and third parties to keep that life going.

Leornard Kim (26:59):
Yeah. If you have a good enough UI, UX, they could rearrange the page to look exactly as it would look in click funnels or a different template. It’s just making a few modifications on the design side.

Stacy Jones (27:13):
What else do people do wrong? What are other mistakes?

Leornard Kim (27:18):
I don’t know. Maybe we should go with one thing that really moved the needle beforehand. When I was working at Keck, what we did, one of our primary strategies was to get the expertise of the physicians, and put them into the articles and the videos we were creating, so we could grow their personal brands.

Stacy Jones (27:40):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (27:40):
So at the enterprise level, I went to meetings with like urology, with like neuroscience, with like spine, ortho, cardiovascular, thoracic surgery, all this stuff. I’m like, “What is all this? I have absolutely no idea.” And I’m all making friends with the Chairs of all the departments who were the top doctors of their class. And I’m like, “So, tell me about what you do.” And I’m like, “I don’t understand. Can you explain it simpler?”

Leornard Kim (28:10):
And then it’s basically getting all their insights and getting it down to a place where regular people could understand, because a lot of the content we were creating was at this academic level. You had to have like a-

Stacy Jones (28:20):
You need a doctorate to actually understand it.

Leornard Kim (28:25):
Yeah. Basically. And I’m like, “You can’t understand any of this stuff.” Plus when I did my competitive analysis, all that I found was stuff on WebMD that said you were going to die if anything goes wrong with you. So I’m like, “Why don’t we just create educational content that just tells people exactly what it is, and not tell them they’re going to die? And add the doctorate.”

Leornard Kim (28:42):
So that’s what we did for majority of our odd content. We did a few doctor features to kind of talk about their personal and physical life, but the main meat and bones of everything was talking about specific topics. Like what to do if he has like ed, or something like that?

Stacy Jones (29:03):
Interesting topics people want to know, that’s something that 50% of the population are concerned they could get.

Leornard Kim (29:11):
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And one of the things that I noticed from posting stuff like that is no one’s clicking like, or comment on that. So I think a lot of people-

Stacy Jones (29:21):
Facebook feeds about ed and the fact that you’re researching it, and you’re like this is your gung ho topic of the moment. No?

Leornard Kim (29:27):
No, exactly. You click, you read, you buy, but you don’t say, “Oh, I-”

Stacy Jones (29:32):
“Oh, shit.”

Leornard Kim (29:33):
Exactly. You don’t want any of your friends to know about that.

Stacy Jones (29:35):

Leornard Kim (29:36):
So one thing that made me realize is a lot of people look at vanity metrics. They look at likes, comments, and shares as the most important factors of what they’re creating on social. But when you have content like that, that’s a little bit edgy and kind of controversial, it’s more the clicks, who’s actually getting the content?

Leornard Kim (29:59):
And it’s like, when you start to see those numbers, that’s more important than what all the noise on social media is. Because if I go through all the comments I’ve ever had on my personal profiles in my entire life, I don’t think there’s a single person who’s paid me for six-figure marketing services. But if I go through my inbox in my email, I see names that I’ve never once seen on social media or anywhere, and they’re the ones who pay me. So it’s like a lot of people get trapped in the engagement phase of everything.

Stacy Jones (30:31):
Mm-hmm (affirmative) I think it’s interesting. What your take was is something that PR agencies and others have been using for a very long time. Especially in the medical field where it’s medical field, the medical devices, the pharma industry, it’s really difficult to build a warm and fuzzy around that.

Leornard Kim (30:50):

Stacy Jones (30:50):
And so how you do that is you partner with a KOL, which is a key opinion leader, or a doctor in this case, and you make them the face of your brand. And we’ve done that working with medical aesthetic devices, where we’ll bring them in, and the doctor is now the mouthpiece, and he’s booked on Doctor Oz, or The Doctors, or The View, or The Talk, but really, everything he’s talking about is how awesome this thing that blasts the cellulite off your butt is, right?

Stacy Jones (31:18):
And so, everyone’s like, “I want a butt blaster. I don’t want cellulite.” But he’s able to be there, she’s able to be there as that mouthpiece and getting across things that are very hard to educate. And you’re doing the same thing with the blog writing and their stories, and their insights.

Leornard Kim (31:34):
Yeah. And the interesting thing is the organization’s over 5,000 people, and we have 650 doctors, and we have different service lines, are vertical as in regular companies. And a lot of people, what they do is they focus just primarily on the brand message to go out there and build stuff. But then what we did is we took the brand message. We took the verticals, the verticals, and the verticals within the verticals, and we spread the knowledge base out to as many of the physicians as possible.

Leornard Kim (32:02):
So now, let’s say we had a surgeon like Steven Giannotta, who’s the guy… If you’ve seen Grey’s Anatomy, the main characters of that, he’s the guy that it’s based off of.

Stacy Jones (32:19):
Patrick Dempsey’s character?

Leornard Kim (32:20):
Yeah. Patrick Dempsey’s character.

Stacy Jones (32:20):

Leornard Kim (32:21):
So he’s the exact personality of that guy. He’s like top of his class and everything, and he kind of brings a halo effect to USC because USC employs people like him, they get a strong reputation. But also at the same time, the new physician like Eric Tan, who might be like an Assistant Professor, he gets to halo off of the USC brand and Giannotta’s brand, and everyone else’s brand.

Leornard Kim (32:46):
So we put as many physicians as possible into our mix of content, to spread that brand equity around and hit as many verticals as possible. One of the huge benefits that we saw that we didn’t even predict was a few years ago… You live in LA, you’ve probably seen the cover of the LA Times, when the former Dean was on the front page.

Stacy Jones (33:09):

Leornard Kim (33:10):
We thought that would be a catastrophe and it would completely demolish the organization. And I strongly feel that if we didn’t spread that brand equity around to so many different physicians, that it would’ve demolished the company, and it would’ve been something that we would’ve had no return from, but because we spread that equity into so many different people and invested into the personal brands of the people at a wider level, it helped spread that brand equity around. So while that hit was a hit, it was mostly on the donor base, and not the patient base.

Stacy Jones (33:46):
And your example there is that’s something that smaller and mid-sized companies need to keep in mind. You’re talking about a giant organization that’s very well respected, over 5,000 employees, but your small and mid-sized companies, agencies, corporations, a lot of times the focus is just the CEO, just the CEO, just the CEO.

Stacy Jones (34:06):
But then what happens is that founder, that CEO is in the light all the time, and the company is them. And without them, the company is nothing in the eyes of others. And so for companies who are not investing and figuring out how to build the personal brand and who the company is on other levels, besides invested solely in one spokesperson for them, could suffer massively just because you’re not building for the future of that company.

Leornard Kim (34:35):
Exactly. It’s kind of crazy to even make the CEO the one personal brand. The CEO’s role in the company is investor relations. It’s not to build the company, it’s to go and fundraise. So that person gets stuck into the forefront and has to do all this other busy work, when in reality, if you have like a VP over here, a director over here, a manager over here, a frontline employee over here, going and spreading their messaging in the way that they feel best that matches their personality, you get your brand equity spread around by your biggest assets in your organization, which are your employees.

Leornard Kim (35:14):
Most people think it’s the customers, but it’s really their employees because they have the vested interest. They get paid by you. They want to go and see you shine.

Stacy Jones (35:21):
And if you’re doing it well, you’re helping shape the employees’ understanding of how your company is and what your messaging is, and it’s rubbing off onto them and becoming part of their ethos. So what they’re sharing, what they’re talking becomes an extension of the company versus them in a silo in operations.

Leornard Kim (35:41):
Yeah. So one thing that we did as a marketing organization is we kind of took that team approach to everything. We discussed things, we grouped together. We came up with ideas together and we made a team effort, as opposed to just having one person go and making everything.

Leornard Kim (35:58):
And I think that process of getting the buy-in from the organization is a little bit difficult because most ambitious people, what they do is they go in and they go, “Hey, let’s call a meeting,” and something like that. No one wants to talk to them because they’re like, “this person’s just going to make me do more work.”

Leornard Kim (36:12):
But then usually, to actually go and get the buy-in, it’s like, “Hey, can I ask you a question? what do you think about this? And you kind of say something interesting and get them to think about it and open up, and you start a conversation. You slowly get buy-in from one person to the next, to the next.

Leornard Kim (36:29):
The next thing you know, everyone’s helping you with your work. And you’re like, “Wow, this is so cool. I don’t have to do it all myself.”

Stacy Jones (36:35):
Yeah. You’re basically using the strategy of selling in someone to be on your team, when you’re actually operating how you’re talking about where you are getting support, and you’re creating a scenario where you actually have people lifting you up, pushing in the same direction, because you took the time to make sure that they bought in, that buy-in, to what you’re selling, and that they see the benefit for themselves too.

Stacy Jones (37:00):
And it’s a lot easier than going in. And everyone being like, “I don’t want another software thing. I don’t want to have to do another thing,” because they don’t see the objective either.

Leornard Kim (37:09):
So one person, her name’s Ashley Wysong, she’s a dermatologist. She was… On top of working with the PR department, she’d respond to their request instantaneously. She’s like, “Yeah, I’m available for the call. I’ll take it.”

Stacy Jones (37:26):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leornard Kim (37:26):
And she took every single opportunity she could. Just those media features got her from an Assistant Professor role to a chair role at a different academic medical center, that’s a huge jump. Just by saying, “Okay, I’m available. I want participate.”

Stacy Jones (37:41):
Well, that’s a fear though, that companies have at the same time, because you took a chair at another company. So a lot of companies are fearful that they build their individual team members, that they will go and leave them. How do you address that?

Leornard Kim (37:56):
So what we did is we worked with whoever would talk to us and respond because most doctors are cocky, arrogant, and it’s like, “I don’t want to do this stuff.” But then there’s a lot of people who are like, “Oh, what? You could actually get this from doing it? We just work with the people who wanted to do it.

Leornard Kim (38:10):
And because we spread across so many people, it didn’t matter if one left because we still had huge investments in other people. So when one person left, it wasn’t like completely detrimental to the business, where it would make a whole department fail. It would be like maybe a 2% decrease in revenue, because we had our brand equity spread around so much.

Leornard Kim (38:35):
And if someone did leave, the other dermatologist knows exactly the same stuff that the other person did, we’d be like, “Okay, we have this existing article. Do you want to take ownership or change anything in this? And they’ll be like, “Okay, sure.” So it was really easy to hand over the [inaudible 00:38:54] when someone left because we would just take down the content anyway, if they left, because they’re just not part of the organization anymore.

Leornard Kim (39:01):
And that was just one of the policies that we had, which kind of makes sense. You don’t want someone thinking that a doctor still works at your organization when they don’t.

Stacy Jones (39:08):
Okay. That’s an interesting one. I was going to say, see how you handled also-

Leornard Kim (39:14):
[crosstalk 00:39:14] We had the clinical side and we had the academic side. On the academic side, that would like live, but on the clinical side, that’s where patients actually come in.

Stacy Jones (39:24):
That totally makes sense.

Leornard Kim (39:25):

Stacy Jones (39:26):
The other thing that helps with that whole buy-in, when people are either producing the content or starring in the content, they are awfully, for some strange reason, more likely to share that content, versus it just being some boiler plates, something that they’re like, “Oh, the company’s pushing this out. I’m supposed to share this across my social? No.”

Stacy Jones (39:43):
They’d rather spread it across their social and spread it through their friend networks, and have their mom chime in that they’re so proud of them, versus being like, “Oh, here’s disconnected content. Yeah. Whatever. I’ll share that out.”

Leornard Kim (39:54):
Yeah. Like one time we did Nurses Week and featured the nurse, and that post got a 1,000 likes on LinkedIn.

Stacy Jones (40:00):

Leornard Kim (40:01):
Because everybody was like, “Yay.” And it’s kind of crazy because people want to cheer on their colleagues and they love them. And nurses are a lot more lovable than doctors.

Stacy Jones (40:12):
Sometimes, yes. Yes. So I know we have to get wrapping up here shortly because I could talk to you for a long, long time, but for all those who are really enjoying listening to your views and who have been following you, how can they learn more about you? How can they find you?

Leornard Kim (40:32):
I have a website, leonardkim.com. I’m going to start actively writing probably in about January 2022. I tested my writing a few weeks ago, and I’m like, “This is like B-. I used to be at like a B+ plus.” So I’ve been working through the-

Stacy Jones (40:48):
You’ll hone your skills.

Leornard Kim (40:50):
Yeah. I’ve been re-honing my skills and I’m confident by the end of December, I’ll get back to at least an A. So I’ll get back to writing and it should be consistently updated. And on there is all my social links and everything else about me, so you can follow your own path, choose your own journey.

Stacy Jones (41:07):
Any last words of parting advice to our listeners today?

Leornard Kim (41:12):
I think a lot of people want to go out there and imitate someone else when they’re doing things, because they think that’s what works. But if you’re just more of exactly who you are already, that’s what people are looking for. They want to know more of you. And by showcasing more of you, sometimes the good, sometimes the bad, and sometimes even the very ugly, you’ll be able to drive true connection with your audience, and you’ll be able to make deeper connections, which leads people to getting to know, like, and trust, and eventually falling in love with you. And when they fall in love with you, crazy things happen.

Stacy Jones (41:45):
And you’re testament to that.

Leornard Kim (41:47):

Stacy Jones (41:48):
Well Leonard, thank you so much for joining, really, really enjoyed listening and learning today.

Leornard Kim (41:53):
Thank you so much for having me Stacy. It’s really been a pleasure, and thank you everyone for tuning in. I appreciate it. Thank you everyone again for tuning in to another episode of Marketing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them. I look forward to chatting with you this next week. And until then, if you have any questions in regards to how your brand can become front and center in today’s hottest TV shows, feature films, music videos, influencers, and celebrities’ lives, reach out to my team and I, and we’ll be happy to chat some more at Hollywood Branded. Take care.

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Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them Reviews 

Must-Listen For Every Brand Marketer (And Owner)

This should be required listening for everyone who owns a business, works in marketing, or is interested in the business of entertainment. Great stuff!

The Best Marketing Podcast Ever!

Stacy is a brilliant branding strategist and she really knows how to bring out the best in her guests! This show is fun AND educational! If you’re looking to understand the world of marketing, branding, digital marketing, influencer marketing and more, look no further. This show has awesome insight into some of the greatest marketing minds out there today, and they provide practical advice you can use in your business today. #FanForLife

Awesome podcast for all marketers!

Keep them coming

Practical and pointed advice.

Stacy does a really great job making this a highly actionable podcast for business owners. With a focus on marketing, she covers a wide range of related topics as well and is always very specific with her questions so that the listener gets pointed advice instead of vague concepts to take away. It’s also really helpful to the hear the why behind any marketing tactic so that we can decide if something sounds like a good fit for where we are at in this moment.

Love this marketing podcast!

Lori has a way of finding new insights to share every week. I loved being a guest, but I enjoy hearing her many fascinating conversations with other marketers even more. Great show!

I love Stacey Jones!

I absolutely loved being on this podcast! Stacey is amazing – real, down to earth, and genuinely curious and interested in learning – this makes for a very engaging conversation and valuable podcast!

Thank you for your podcast! I LOVE IT

I just listened to the episode named Insights To Product Placement Brand Marketers Need To Know, and I really enjoyed every minute of it! There are so many ways to approach product placement in a manner that provides wins for many – and it is not always driven by money. I am looking forward to listening to more!

Stuff we need to know!!

Anyone who is in business should be listening to this podcast! Incredible insights and advice.

Such a wealth of knowledge! 🧠

This is one of the most insightful podcasts that I have ever come across! Stacy does such a great job of sharing her wisdom and I love how she leads meaningful conversations with guests who bring so much experience to the table. Highly recommend checking this show out – you won’t be disappointed!

Awesome Podcast!!!

Stacy, host of the Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) Podcast, highlights all marketing and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!
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