Today we are joined by Alex Nulsen, Online Media Strategist for the Health and Wellness Industry in Southern California.
Alex will be joining us today to discuss building credibility for the most important brand in the world – your own.
Cole: Thanks so much for joining us today Alex to discuss building credibility and brand recognition for yourself and your business – especially for individuals whose name is their 'brand'.
Alex: You're welcome Cole. I am happy to be here.
Cole: Alex, I've heard you talk about this subject before but many of our readers may not be familiar with the topic of branding and credibility building. How can individuals start building brand recognition for themselves or their companies, why is it so important, and what is the best way to accomplish it?
Alex: First let me say that when I talk about 'branding' and 'brand recognition' it may intimidate some that think the topic is too complicated. Others may tune out the information thinking that it does not apply to them. I am here to tell you that simply is not the case.
People may think that 'branding' is only for large corporations or Fortune 500 companies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that the world is built on branding and reputations. The difference now is that reputations, whether it be that of a company or an individual, travel at lighting speeds all across
the world. This is due to the advent and accessibility of modern technology – including the internet and smart phones.
Cole: So you are saying that reputations travel quickly and that these reputations can and do have consequences for better or worse?
Alex: That is exactly right. Let me give you an example. Back in July 2011, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netfix, decided it would be a great idea to make rapid, sweeping changes to the pricing structure of Netflix's DVD rental services. He announced a price rise of 60% on DVD subscriptions across the board, which would affect both the customers that wanted DVDs delivered to them as well as Netflix's movie streaming services online.
Remember, at that time, Netflix was also one of the high fliers on Wall Street. It could do no wrong and was seen as a bulletproof investment by all of the top analysts. And why not? The stock price just continued to go up and up and up …
Subscribers to Netflix were not happy. Instead of trying to lessen their anger by going into detail about the 'hows and whys' of the massive price increase, Hastings seemingly grasped the symbolic middle finger to his loyal subscribers. He offered little reason at all for the price hike, nothing of any substance away from the fact that he chose to do it.
In one fell swoop Hastings managed to completely alienate his most important asset – subscribers to Netflix. Netflix quickly earned the reputation of being greedy, overbearing and not caring about their customers.
This terrible reputation spread like wildfire over the internet and specifically through the exact demographic that Netflix's service targets (18-40 year olds with expendable income). Unfortunately for Netflix, this was the exact demographic that controlled most of the online media and blogosphere.
Once loyal subscribers and supporters of the brand started to unsubscribe in droves. Many also launched virtual ammo at Netflix on the way out the door. The message was clear. Netflix did not deserve to keep anyone as a subscriber, the company was mismanaged, and the entire service was an overpriced joke. Accuracy or not, this 'reputation' soon superseded Netflix at every turn over the next few quarters.
Oops. Once a media darling and untouchable company and stock, Netflix started to go down. Actually calling it 'going down' would not be accurate. The stock tanked and tanked hard.
Missing earnings estimate after earnings estimate and with nothing but dim projections on the horizon, Netflix managed to go from an all time high of just over $ 300 per share right before the Hastings announcement in July, falling all the way down to $ 62 within a few months . This represented a real loss of nearly 80% from it's July 2011 High as well as the dismantling of the 'bullet-proof' Netflix brand.
This was a momentous disaster by anyone's estimation. It was made all the worse by the fact that the troubing of the stock meant not only a real monetary loss by the company (estimated in the billions of dollars) but also major hits in 401k retirement fund values and job cuts across the board at Netflix .
Is this an extreme example of reputation in action? Sure it is. It's real none-the-less and a good lesson for us all.
Cole: Wow. That's absolutely incredible. I'm starting to get a better picture of exactly what you are talking about in regards to reputation. Let's get into the importance of self branding and public awareness of the individual as a brand as opposed to 'Fortune 500' brand awareness. Can we discuss that?
Alex: Absolutely. What I like to primarily focus on with regards to branding is educating individuals whose names are their brands, such as' John Smith, MD, on the importance of getting their names out to the public.
Getting your name out there matters but doing it in the right way is crucial. It needs to be done in a strategic manner that makes the largest impact. The way a potential client or customer perceives you is of primary importance.
Cole: So what types of individuals are we talking about here?
Alex: If your name is your business, your brand, and your reputation, those are exactly the types of individuals that I am referring to.
Let's explore that a bit more. Think about most professionals. I'm talking about an established professional with a business built around his / her name. The name of the business could be something OTHER than their actual name, but none-the-less they are still the name and face of their company.
That makes their reputations and managing them properly even more important.
To name just a few professionals for which brand awareness and reputation is exceptionally important;
– Investment Advisors
– Tax Attorneys
– Lawyers of all shapes and sizes
– Medical Specialists (such as Laser Eye Surgeons)
I could go on and on.
Cole: Can you explain for us a bit about why branding and a good reputation is so important for these types of professionals?
Alex: Absolutely. It's really quite simple. Professionals often do not understand how people are searching for them online. They have no concept of how this research of them actually happens.
Cole: Can you expand on that?
Alex: Think of how you, yourself search for professionals. You want to get a name and then do some research about them by searching online, most likely in a search engine such as Google.
This is most certainly the case when you are looking for expert advice. Someone who knowledge can have a major impact on your life or your childrens' lives – choosing the right doctor, dentist or selecting someone to manage your retirement funds. You want to make sure that you are as informed as possible about their expertise before choosing who to work with. Their decisions can have a dramatic
impact on your future.
Most online marketers spread the perception (as many simply do not know the truth) that the most important way for someone to find a professional online is ranking that professional with a keyword such as 'Los Angeles Dentist' or the like.
Cole: Ranking in Google for a term like 'Los Angeles Dentist', if you are indeed a dentist in Los Angeles, is not a good way to be found?
Alex: That is the misperception. People generally are not searching for dentists like that. By finding a professional utilizing a general keyword like that one does not get a clear picture of who that doctor really is. Perhaps we can get into that more fully at another time.
Cole: Sounds good. I would like to hear more about that.
Alex: Anyways, most people are finding professionals in one of two ways.
Cole: Which are?
Alex: The first way is by referral from a friend, family member or co-worker. The other way people find a medical professional is by choosing one that they are 'forced' to use.
Cole: What do you mean?
Alex: By 'forced' I mean that there are just a few doctors within a certain zip code, or radius of a person's home, that meets the two most important criteria:
1. They are within a reasonable driving distance of someone's home. That 'acceptable driving radius' can vary from profession to profession and also depend on how often you need to go see that expert.
There are quite a few variables. The main point is no matter how good they are, no one is going to travel an extra 2 hours every way to visit a dentist.
2. That professional needs to be on the 'Golden List'.
Cole: What is the Golden List?
Alex: The Golden List is made up of the professionals that are covered by the person's medical insurance. Usually there are 4-6 of them in any given 'acceptable driving radius' to choose from.
That is the real way that people are choosing experts to work with, no matter what someone else may tell you.
Cole: Wow. Yeah. I mean, that definitely rings true. That is how I've found doctors in the past. You find a doctor that meets those two criteria and then start the research phase. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Alex: Sure. The research phase is where people begin searching the professionals from their short list by name, trying to learn more about them. They are looking to see if any of them are a good fit for themselves and their families. If all of the doctors on the list seem the same, people may end up just going with whomever is closest to them or perhaps some other random selection process – drawing straws or something. Who knows.
The point is that if you are an expert or professional in your field, you want to keep those 'random' selections from occurring. Minimize randomness to the best of your ability by steering consumers in your specific direction.
Cole: How do they do that?
Alex: Ah, that's the crux of it, is not it? What do you say that we save the nuts and bolts of the exact method for next time Cole. That way we can get back together in the not too distant future.
Lets just finish by saying that this is something that any motivated professional can accomplish. All they need do is understand the why, which I think I have covered fairly well in this interview, as well as the how.
Cole: Sounds great Alex. I'd just like to say thanks again for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this information with us. It's been a real eye opener.
Alex: You're very welcome. We'll talk again soon.