You’ve certainly heard or read this before: You are a brand.
But for someone who spent 8–12 years of graduate and post-graduate education, yet received no business, sales or marketing training in those years, this is a hard-to-grasp idea.
You think you get it. But, do you?
Do you know exactly what it entails? Would you know how to create “brand you”?
Yeah… I didn’t either.
In this article I’ll share more about it and specifically:
- What it means to create a brand as a practicing healthcare professional.
- Why you’d be smart to do so. And sooner rather than later, too!
- Yes, even if you’re a hospitalist or currently employed.
- How you can start building your brand.
- A challenge to you. But you will probably not take it… ♂️
If you don’t think this is something you’d like to learn, then this article was not written for you.
Let’s get to it…
What is a personal brand?
Let me first tell you what it is not.
A personal brand is not:
- A pretty logo,
- A website,
- A LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or (god forbid!) TikTok profile,
- A podcast,
- A blog…
All of these can be part of your personal branding strategy but neither one of them is your brand, in and of itself. In fact, not even all of them, are your brand.
So… What is a personal brand?
Or basically: ‘Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not around’.
In other words, a personal brand is a verb (personal branding), not a noun.
It’s something you have to do consistently.
Which is why, paying someone to put together a website that you never update is not personal branding.
Having a logo and plastering it all over that website, or your social media, is not personal branding.
Creating a social media profile and not posting, and –most importantly– engaging with your followers, is not personal branding.
I trust you see the difference.
But the question now is,
Why should you go through all this trouble?
And to illustrate that, I want to give you an example that I often give during our free trainings.
Let me ask you something: Who is America’s Doctor?
Please, don’t stop reading just yet. I know you probably dislike Dr Oz but this is just the set up for the example I am about to give you…
Here’s the example:
Imagine for a minute that Dr Oz had a “come to Jesus” moment and he decided to stop peddling snake oil and go back to being a full time practicing physician.
And I don’t know what your field or specialty is but, he also now happens to be in the exact same field you are.
Do you think he’d be able to charge twice as much as you do? Maybe three times? More like ten times…
Is that because he’s two, three, ten times better than you as a doctor?
It’s simply because he’s built a personal brand.
One that increases his perceived value.
This is why personal branding is a must do for every practicing health professional…
So, if you are not budgeting a bit of time and money to personal branding, you better rethink what you want your career to look like in the mid to long term.
Yeah, but… I am employed by the hospital (or practice)
If I had a dollar…
Independent practice owners are quick to understand the value of personal branding once I give them the above example
It perfectly explains why some of their potential patients complain about the price of their services while driving up in a Lexus…
It also explains why some of their colleagues (competitors), are able to charge more for what are seemingly the same services…
But what about those doctors who are employees of a practice and/or the hospital?
Well… All they need to do is show up to their shifts and their employer will fill their calendar.
I mean, that’s the employer’s responsibility, isn’t it?
That is true.
But if there’s one group of doctors who is specially vulnerable, is the group of physician employees.
I mean, look at what just happened during the COVID pandemic.
How many doctors (and other healthcare employees) got their shifts and hours cut?
How many were forced to take on overtime without additional compensation?
How many were laid off?
How many were sent home without a paycheck?
Having a personal brand might not have prevented those who were employed from going through any of the above scenarios but it certainly provided them with options.
Options put you in control of your future
Allow me to illustrate this with an example:
Imagine that you have built a healthy personal brand. One that has an engaged audience of people who follow you and value your expertise.
And you invest a little bit of time regularly in creating some content, engaging some of them and basically just leveraging your expertise to help them in their life.
After a few months of doing this, the number of people following you has started to increase.
You’re being invited to be a guest on a few podcasts and some other virtual events.
You agree because you enjoy sharing your knowledge, especially when you know people are benefitting from it.
Next thing you know, you start getting invitations for paid speaking engagements.
Or the same organizations who used to invite you to speak at their annual events –for free–, are now offering you the keynote spot. And a fee!
And just like that, other collaboration options start appearing.
Like the possibility of putting together an online course or even being offered a book deal.
Imagine knowing that, regardless of what happened with your job, you’d still have a way to leverage your expertise and make a living.
Or you could be creating the foundation for your eventual jump into independent practice…
Whatever you wish to do, having a personal brand is going to help you achieve those goals easier.
Well… if building a personal brand is also going to help me get patients, maybe I should get my employer to pay for that…
Personal branding is an investment (mostly in time but there’s also some money involved) that you have to make. That’s why it’s called personal branding.
I think that hospitals and large practices should not only allow, but actively promote, that their employees do personal branding.
Again, can you imagine having Dr Oz on your staff? Wouldn’t that increase the number of patients treated?
However, this encouragement should not come at the expense of the hospital or clinic. Neither in money or in paid time.
Unless you want your employer to own your brand. Because, if they pay for it, and you build it during working hours, it’s their business asset.
And that would defeat its purpose.
Alright, alright… I get it. But, how do I start?
I’m glad you asked!
There are a couple of things that need to be done before you begin putting in any time (or money!) into creating content.
And the first one of those things is…
No. It’s not commissioning a logo.
It’s also not setting up an LLC or equivalent.
The first thing you must do, if you want to be effective at brand building, is to identify the person you wish to serve.
This is what marketers sometimes refer to as a buyer persona, or target audience or avatar.
I personally like to call them your Ideal Patient Avatar (IPA).
And, the purpose of this IPA is to help you identify who and how you’ll serve them through your personal brand strategy.
Let me explain.
I like to use the birthday card example.
Have you ever been asked to sign a birthday card for a coworker? Someone you don’t really know from anything other than you both work in the same floor or department?
It’s awkward, right?
It feels fake and forced to write anything other than “Happy birthday”, or “have a blast!” or something generic like that…
Why is this?
Because you don’t really know this person.
All you know is that they work in the same hospital, you know their position or title and that’s pretty much it. Then you can also (kind of) guess their age, marital status or family situation…
That’s what marketers call demographics.
But what if the card was for your spouse, a family member or a good friend.
Would you have such a hard time writing something meaningful? Recalling something that happened between the two of you. Maybe an inside joke or a fond memory…
That was easy, wasn’t it?
And again, the reason for this is that you have a deeper bond, a connection. You know that person’s dreams, their goals, their fears, their insecurities, etc…
Those are called psychographics.
When you put together demographics and psychographics, you can come up with a very clear picture of this person. Your IPA.
And what does this have to do with personal branding?
Well… one of the easiest ways to start building a personal brand is by creating interesting and well-crafted content online.
Whether it’s a blog, a podcast, or a simple social media post, your content is the gateway through which your intended audience can get to know, like and trust you.
And how can you make sure that your content is interesting?
In the same manner that you go from awkward generic birthday cards to thoughtful experiences: by really knowing the recipient.
Is that it?
Well… this is the essential first step.
Once you know exactly who you want to serve, you can decide everything else.
Like the direction in which you’ll build your personal brand.
Is it going to be under your name?
What about a monicker?
Or a tagline?
What kind of logo?
What type of content? Is it going to be video, audio, graphics?
All you need to do is ask yourself, what would your IPA like?
I want to challenge you to create your Ideal Patient Avatar.
Whether you’re a seasoned practice owner or a first time healthcarepreneur, I know that you probably don’t have such a thorough IPA created. On paper.
If you’d like more guidance, consider purchasing my Masterclass where we go in depth on this and the rest of my personal branding strategy.