On this episode of Scrubbing In, a medical podcast powered by Specialty Care, we have a special treat for you: SpecialtyCare’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lee Pepper, interviews Rory Vaden, co-founder of the Brand Builders Group. In this conversation, Lee and Rory discuss the importance of building a personal brand in healthcare and how to leverage it to grow your reputation and increase revenue. Enjoy the conversation.


Lee Pepper: Great. It’s my pleasure to welcome Rory Vaden to Scrubbing In Podcast this afternoon. Rory, thank you so much for joining us.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Lee.

Lee Pepper: Rory, for those of you who don’t know, has been really helpful to, really, thousands of people in the US with building their brand, and that was why I wanted Rory to come on to discuss building a brand, especially in a healthcare setting. When we think about all of the doctors and surgeons that we come in contact with on a daily basis, so many of them, I think, lack their own personal brand, which can really help define and accelerate, I think, their business models.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that we realized is that people use the phrase “personal branding,” but the phrase we use is “reputation,” and Brand Builders Group is sort of an expert in reputation design. You think, “Why is someone going to use this hospital or that surgeon or that whoever?” It has so much to do with reputation, so much to do with prestige, and people do business with people. They like to know the actual person.

So the more that companies can celebrate and encourage and raise the visibility of the individual people inside their organization, I think, the more that that will come back to the organization, in the form of revenue.

So one of the things that we say is reputation precedes revenue, and you have to have a reputation strategy. Part of the … One of the best things you can do for your reputation strategy is to take the individuals inside your organization and let the world outside get to know the people on a personal level.

Lee Pepper: Rory, I’m so glad that you started our conversation off with that, because, over the years, we have heard a lot in the marketing space about reputation management, and when people talk about reputation management, it’s always trying to fix …

Rory Vaden: Yeah.

Lee Pepper: … a problem.

Rory Vaden: Reactive.

Lee Pepper: Right. It’s very reactive, and I think your message, which I think has resonated with me and with lots of others, is more proactive.

Rory Vaden: It’s 100% proactive. In fact, one of the ways that we came up with the phrase “reputation design” was it’s the opposite of reputation management. Reputation management is what you do when things go wrong, when there’s a fire, when there’s something bad happening. Reputation design is what we do intentionally, proactively, and it’s such an easy thing to do. It’s really just let people get to know you, and serve them.

You have all these digital outlets of podcasts and social media and whatever to just disseminate the knowledge that you have that’s helpful and useful to people, that does nothing but build trust for you and your organization, and there’s no reason we should be afraid to do that. We should let the individuals inside of our company, our organization, our hospital, our facility, whatever it is, get out there and teach and spread the message and let people get to know them and not be afraid of that happening, because the more they do that, the more they expand the reputation of the entire organization.

Lee Pepper: I think sales organizations get it, but I still think there’s a lot of healthcare organizations that, probably for a myriad of reasons, whether it’s compliance or from past reputation management issues, that they get nervous about investing in their staff when it comes to personal branding. I’ve always been amazed that companies don’t have a problem with sending that person out to make a sales call …

Rory Vaden: Right.

Lee Pepper: … or investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to open up a clinic here, and, obviously, that person’s running it. But when it comes to letting them maybe write a book or to do a blog or something, they kind of freak out.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, there’s a big fear.

Lee Pepper: Yeah. How do we, in healthcare, overcome some of that bias to kind of lead the way with this type of branding?

Rory Vaden: Yeah. I think it’s a legitimate fear, but like all fear, it’s sort of a figment of our imagination. Here’s the parallel to me, is that it’s kind of like why would a company invest money into training at all? Because you say, “Well, what if we train these people and they leave?” But the age-old adage-like response to that is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?” Right? That would be way worse.

So you already have these people. Every employee in your organization is or should be an ambassador of your company. Why not maximize their exposure, maximize their reach, take advantage of the fact that every individual person today is a media company, and we all have instant access to some number of people in our network?

So I think it’s just … It’s a fear that we have, similar to training someone or developing anyone in any type of investment. Yeah, they could leave, and probably, at some point, they will. But it’s really about what can they do while they’re here?

I think the other thing is that if they are building your organization and you set up some guidelines that make sure that they’re affiliated with you and so forth and so on, you’re going to win. I think it’s just … It’s an abundance mentality vs. a scarcity mindset, and you just gotta kind of get over it, I think, and give it a shot. I mean, you don’t really have anything to lose, I mean, in the long term. If somebody becomes so big and has so much reach and then they leave you, they’re probably going to have done exponentially more good for you along the way.

Lee Pepper: I think one of the things that … with the Brand Builders Group, you guys really seem to take an approach of personalizing, because I think a lot of people are fearful that, “Well, I don’t want to be, necessarily, a public speaker” or “I don’t want to write a book.” But I think the … Everybody’s going to be a little bit different in what their personal brand eventually becomes.

Rory Vaden: Yeah. Lee, the best branding advice I ever received was from a guy named Larry Winget. So this isn’t a Rory Vaden original quote or a Brand Builders one, but Larry said, “The key to personal branding is to find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others.” Find your uniqueness and exploit it in the service of others, and I thought … From the first time I heard it, that spoke to me, and I’ve remembered it and tried to live by it.

What Larry didn’t really do is teach people how to do that, and that’s one of the things that we do at Brand Builders Group, is we take people through a process of all these different exercises to help them really pinpoint what problem do they solve? What are they passionate about? What is their true expertise? What do as good or better than anyone else in the world? We help them really focus and hone in on the one problem that they solve or that they know as good as anyone else in the world, because that’s how you break through the noise, because if you don’t do that, the problem is noise – There’s so many people out there doing this.

Now, I would say one big advantage, anyone that’s listening to this in the healthcare space, I think people are way behind, way behind in this area. So you have a chance to be the first mover if you start doing this in a lot of ways, but within a few years, there’ll be noise. The way to break through the noise is not to try to do everything that everyone does. It’s to really pinpoint and say, “I am the expert on this one thing. This is the one problem that I solve.”

You let each person pick a thing, and they go out and do it. Then the sum total of that is your hospital. It is your facility. It is whatever, but you let people talk about what they’re passionate about, and that’s what we do. We help sort of uncover what we call their brand DNA, the part that is the intersection between who the world needs you to be and who you were designed to be. That’s where we think the magic happens.

Lee Pepper: Yeah. I think your approach is spot-on, because so many people get tied up, right off the bat, in tactics. They focus on, “Well, I’ve gotta do Facebook.”

Rory Vaden: Right.

Lee Pepper: “Oh, I’ve gotta do a tweet today. Oh, I’ve gotta do a podcast or a video,” and they haven’t done the other work. They haven’t discovered what their brand DNA really is.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, that’s spot-on, Lee. So our whole process is actually four phases, and the first one is what we call brand identification. It’s the hard, foundational, fundamental work of figuring out, “What is your voice? What is your uniqueness? What have you earned the right to talk about?”, as one of my other mentors, David Avrin, used to tell me, and nobody wants to do that. We immediately want to go, “Well, I want to go buy Facebook Ads” or “I want to buy AdWords” or “I need to launch a podcast. We need to do influencer marketing” or …

They’re looking for the secret, and it’s like … No, it’s more fundamental than that. It’s more intrinsic, and you need to access that. Then, yeah, there’s a thousand tactics. All of them can work and do work in certain environments. Certainly you can learn those in a variety of different ways, but what really works is accessing that uniqueness, accessing that inner core, and letting people get to know the personalities of the people in your organization.

That’s what can’t be copied. That’s what can’t be duplicated somewhere else, and yet, because of fear, we say, “No, we just want to project this nice, professional image,” and, a lot of times, we end up looking like everybody else, and we all do the same thing, more or less. Then, yet, people say, “Well, what makes you different?” We would all say, “It’s our people that make the difference,” but we don’t market our people, and we should. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t.

Lee Pepper: I hear that all the time – “It’s our people that make a difference.” But, yet, we’re afraid. That’s so true. Noah benShea, who you know and has done a lot of work with us on Scrubbing In, he will hear stuff like that, and I’ve heard him say many times, “We’re not selling widgets, people,” when it comes to healthcare.

But, yet, that’s sometimes how we, from the business side, end up approaching it. We try to make it repeatable. We try to put all these fences around it so that it can’t be repeatable, but, yet, we miss out on that opportunity to really, really invest in our people so they can be successful for us, too, and the patients.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, absolutely, and people do business with people. We get attached to people, and, because of social media and digital tools and everything, that’s … It’s more … There’s more of an opportunity to do that than ever before, and I think it’s just … It’s a natural fear of new mediums, right? Like when email first came on the scene, it was new, and it was, “How do we deal with this?” Then kind of social, and the world’s just changing so fast.

But, I mean, look … The power of celebrity reputation has been around for as long as there’s been people, and it is a good thing when the New York Yankees have several superstars. It helps the New York Yankees when they have several superstars. It helps the Los Angeles Lakers when they have multiple superstars.

From a sales perspective, like from a marketing perspective, people follow the team, but they also follow the players, and think about Apple, right? Apple has Steve Jobs, and Virgin has Richard Branson, Tesla. All of these companies have these individual people that we connect to, and that helps the business. It doesn’t hurt the business.

Lee Pepper: Is there anybody that’s too small to work with somebody like the Brand Builders Group? Or is there anybody that’s too small, in a sense, to have a reputation?

Rory Vaden: Oh, that’s such a good question. No, nobody is too small. A lot of our clients are individuals, and they’re kind of more like entrepreneurs, solopreneur types. They might be trying to do a book launch, or they’re trying to become a keynote speaker. Maybe they’re trying to do webinars so they don’t have to do keynote speeches. We help with all of the building funnels and all that kind of stuff, but really finding their unique brand.

But one thing that’s interesting about Brand Builders Group is we don’t work with companies. We only work with people. So if a hospital came to us and said, “Hey, can you brand us?”, we would say, “No. What we can do is we can take your CEO, and we can make them a celebrity. We can take your director of whatever, and we can really help them expand their reach.”

One of the things that we talk about is called the Reputation Formula. People say, “Okay, well, how do you come … What is reputation, exactly?” Well, for us, your reputation is simply your results times your reach equals reputation. Results times reach equals reputation. So you have to have results. You have to do amazing work, right? You have to be great at what you do, but if you’re great at what you do and nobody knows about it, if I don’t know about you, I still can’t buy from you. If I don’t know about you, I can’t refer you.

So there’s a huge focus on reach that, I think, is new for people, and there’s also this, “Well, is it arrogant to try to reach more people?” So it’s sort of reconciling that. But the bottom line is you have to be an amazing person, and then you have to follow some systems and some tactics and some processes and exercises to expand your reach.

But as your reach grows, your reputation grows, and if you solve the reputation problem, then revenue will be solved also. It’d be helped as a byproduct of that.

Lee Pepper: I think, when it comes to reputation, it’s something that you have to … It’s like exercising. You need to regularly exercise.

Rory Vaden: Yes.

Lee Pepper: You need to be invested in it.

Rory Vaden: You have to have a strategy for it.

Lee Pepper: Right, right.

Rory Vaden: You can’t …

Lee Pepper: It’s not a “one and done.” You can’t just hire somebody and …

Rory Vaden: No.

Lee Pepper: You’ve got to really commit to making it part of your lifestyle.

Rory Vaden: Yeah, and even for companies, you say, “Okay, you would never go into a new year without having a financial strategy,” and you would have a marketing strategy, and you’d probably have some type of a sales strategy and operational strategies. But nobody has a reputation strategy. If you don’t have a reputation strategy, that’s a major lapse in judgment.

In a world of Yelp and social media and Google and everyone has a blog and a podcast and a voice, you better have a great strategy and not just a reputation management strategy. That’s defensive. We’re talking about a proactive, offensive strategy, and the best … You go, “Where do I come up with the content?” Simple. Find your best people and celebrate them. Let the world get to know them, and people will trust you. When they trust you, they’re going to refer you, and they’re going to help you. They’re going to do business with you.

Lee Pepper: Well, Rory, how do people, if they want to reach out and get in touch with you … I mean, they can go to thebrandbuildersgroup.com.

Rory Vaden: Yeah.

Lee Pepper: Is there anything else you’d like to share about that? Are you going to be speaking anywhere, or do you have a new book coming out anytime soon?

Rory Vaden: Yeah, no, I don’t have any new books or anything to promote. I would say go to thebrandbuildersgroup.com, and we have … What people can do there is they can request a free call, if they’re interested in learning how to build their personal brand.

Lee Pepper: Great.

Rory Vaden: So just … Yeah, go to thebrandbuildersgroup.com, and from there, you can get a free call or stay connected with us.

Lee Pepper: Okay. Excellent. Well, listen, Rory, I really appreciate you honoring us and coming and really challenging our audience to take ownership of their brand and to kind of lead the way, maybe for their facilities or their hospitals, because I think having them connect with their patients, I think that really will drive results.

Rory Vaden: Yes. Amen. Reputation precedes revenue. The bigger your reputation, the bigger your results.

Lee Pepper: Rory, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Rory Vaden: My pleasure.

Lee Pepper: All right.

Rory Vaden: Thanks, Lee.

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About the Brand Builders Group:
The Brand Builders Group is a personal brand strategy firm for influencers and entrepreneurs. Our services are designed to clarify your positioning, expand your reach, and increase your revenues. At our core, we focus on teaching people the fundamentals of becoming the kind of person that people want to do business with. We also love teaching people how to become rich, famous, and influential because we know that the more reach the good guys have, the better the world is going to be.