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E2A 017: The Foundational Strategy – How to Build Your Authority 

 October 19, 2021

By  Scott A. MacMillan

As an entrepreneur, you write your book for a reason: to build your authority and grow your business. ‘Business growth’ may mean different things to different people; however, foundational to nearly every E2A goal is that of building authority. Authority, credibility, and profile provide the leverage that makes everything easier, better, more effective. So, now that your book is written and published, how do you go about building authority?

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host and author Scott MacMillan discusses the foundational Authority Building strategy that every entrepreneur-turned-author should execute to support their business goals.

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Episode Transcript

Scott A. MacMillan:

Before we get started, I'd like to take a moment to thank you, my listeners. What you're about to listen to is episode 17 of the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast. To date, the podcast has been heard in 17 different countries around the world, which that's incredible to me. Of course, we have listeners in Canada, United States, Australia, and in the UK and Ireland, and we've also got listeners throughout Europe, including Germany, France, and the Netherlands. But I was surprised, and frankly, honoured to learn that we've got ETA fans in nearly a hundred different cities around the globe in China, in Japan, in Singapore, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Vietnam, South Korea, and the Philippines. That's incredible to me, so thank you. Thank you for listening. It's real work putting together this podcast, but it's entirely worth it when I see how it's been received and the entrepreneurs it's helping. If you are listening and you're getting value from what you hear, I'd ask that you please consider leaving a review wherever you download your podcast from. They really do help spread the word. Now, without further ado, you're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, episode number 17.

Mike Manz:

Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott A. MacMillan:

You found your calling. It's different for everyone. Some people take their time, some find theirs quickly, some sadly never do, but when you find yours or choose yours, it's magic. There's passion, there's promise, and of course, performance. You earn a living doing something that you not only enjoy but that you're also very, very good at, and it doesn't feel like work. You discovered your superpower. Now that you've been in your field for as long as you have and developed the expertise and experience needed to run a successful business, you decided to write a book. Why? Why did you write a book? Yes, you learn. You grow when you write a book, and sure, some look to add an additional income stream when they publish. But the big reason most entrepreneurs sit down and begin their manuscript is to build their authority, to share their expertise, just like you have or will.

Scott A. MacMillan:

This is where the rubber hits the road. It's time to deliver the goods. It's time to get results, to build authority through authorship. Yes, as in previous episodes of this podcast, building authority involves a strategy. There needs to be a plan, a process. There's got to be a well-thought-out template for where, how, and when to build your authority on the heels of releasing your book, right? In this episode, we're going to discuss how to use your book as proof of your credibility on your topic. Building authority, it's the wedge to access the opportunities you need to build your profile and your business. I'm Scott MacMillan and welcome to this edition of Entrepreneur to Author.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Building authority, those two words even sound important. Building authority is not only the most common goal that entrepreneurs have when writing a book, but it's also fundamental to nearly every other goal that you might have. When you establish your authority as a credible thought leader on your topic, you become the go-to source of information and knowledge for your clients, prospective clients, partners, media, and really, any other stakeholder looking to learn from and work with the best. It opens doors.

Scott A. MacMillan:

But before we really get going, there's one thing I want to make clear. When I refer to building your authority, I'm not talking about building the profile of your business. No, I'm talking about building your individual profile and individual authority because when people see you as knowledgeable, likable, and trustworthy, they relate to you in ways that they can't relate to a faceless corporation. You see, that's the sweet spot. That's when you leveraged your authority.

Scott A. MacMillan:

How do you actually go about leveraging your book to build your authority? Well, there are four pillars to the strategy that we're going to discuss, four pillars to building your authority. They are: Building out your professional profile, publishing expert content, collecting authority signals, and finally, getting exposure.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Let's begin with building your professional profile. Your book plays an important role in building your profile, but to capitalize on it, it's important to shape the persona, the impression that people get when they first seek you out. The foundation of this is a robust yet flexible bio and high-quality professional photos. These are important assets that you'll use over and over, and they should be consistent, not necessarily the same, but yes, consistent wherever you use them, whether for social profiles, personal and business websites, even your brochures, media, and speaker kits.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Let's briefly touch on your bio. Now, if you were a book, it's what you'd have written on your back. It tells others who you are and what you're about. Keep it updated. Always. Now, what I do is I have a long, detailed bio, around 1500 words that I use as the master, and then I cut that down to varying lengths, ranging from 500 words at the top end, down to a hundred characters on the low end, which means I have a suitable bio ready at a moment's notice whenever I need it.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Regarding photos, again, make sure they're high quality, both in terms of resolution and aesthetics, and that they're professional. Now, "professional" will, of course, mean different things for different people. A professional photo of a tax accountant will look very different from that of a professional surfer. Regardless, 99% of the time, you'll be best served by hiring a professional photographer to do a photoshoot rather than scrounging through your phone for suitable selfies. It's good to have a variety of images that you can use and pull from, ones that are aesthetically consistent. But at a minimum, you need at least a head-and-shoulders shot that you can use for most purposes, especially for online profiles.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Why? Google has made it dead simple to track someone down. Have you ever googled yourself? What comes up? Make sure that the information others find about you when they first seek you out is consistent with the professional brand you want to communicate. Some of the first things that are likely to pop up are social media profiles. There are many, aren't there? The big ones, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, but there's also YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, and of course, there are more targeted platforms like Goodreads, Reddit, Medium, and more, so yeah, there are a lot of social media platforms to choose from, but the good news is you don't need to be on all of them. Just choose the ones where your customers are and where your readers are. If you're most active on one particular social network, like LinkedIn, for example, you might mention that in your bio on other platforms, too, so that people know where to best find you.

Scott A. MacMillan:

As far as a personal website is concerned, register a domain name related to your name. Now, you can keep this site simple, but make sure that it looks professional and that it connects you, your book, and your business together, linking to all the various components of your business ecosystem. This is an important step in helping search engines find you when people search your name.

Scott A. MacMillan:

The second of the four pillars to building your authority is publishing content. You have become a media player. You're in the business now, so your aim here is to share high-quality content consistently. I recommend that you consider doing so across three different mediums: text, video, and audio. That way, you're reaching your target audience, regardless of how they like to consume content. What to publish? Well, there are many options, articles for one, graphics are another. Videos are immensely popular on most platforms, even case studies that demonstrate your ability to help clients, these also serve as powerful social proof for prospective clients. How about podcasting? The medium continues to grow in popularity. I don't have to tell you that podcasts connect like no other platform. It's a coffee table conversation. It sticks.

Scott A. MacMillan:

The third pillar of building authority is collecting authority signals. Now, what are authority signals? Well, think of things like awards, media mentions, inclusion on top 10 lists, bestseller lists, anything that signals to the market that you have credibility. It's not about vanity, it's smart business.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Now, let's back up to awards. They're an excellent authority signal, so seek out awards that you, your business, or your book might be eligible for and apply. After the first couple of entries, you're going to have a template that you can use for most award submissions, making subsequent entries quicker and easier. Lists, finding your way onto a best of or a top X of Y or a bestseller list, well, that's powerful. Go back and listen to episode 16 about book promotion for some tips about ranking your book as a bestseller, for example. Associations? When you join an association, you benefit from the credibility that that association has already established, so it's worth looking into becoming a member of relevant associations within your field of expertise.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Another great authority signal that many people ignore is endorsements and testimonials. Now, we all know that referrals are terrific sources of new business endorsements take referrals, public, and the higher profile the endorser is the better, but even testimonials from regular clients, if they're genuine and positive, can be really impactful.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Finally, the last pillar in our quest to building authority is getting exposure. Media exposure can trigger all kinds of opportunities. Of course, unlocking the door to media exposure isn't easy, but once inside, you can quickly become a go-to source. When big stories break, or even when they don't, if you're top of mind for a media outlet, then you are perfectly positioned, and really, media exposure tends to snowball. If one media outlet uses you, it's quite likely that another will do so, too. That's just how things work in media. Again, getting exposure isn't trivial, but go back and listen again to episode 16, for some tips on how to crack that nut, too.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Fact is, your book is an excellent wedge to help you get your foot through that door. Remember, it doesn't always have to be traditional media. If you're able to be a guest on a credible podcast, do it. Many podcasts have huge audiences, but even those that don't tend to be hyper-targeted, so you may find it easier to connect with your ideal clients.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Similar to being a podcast guest, you might have success guest blogging, or as a contributing editor for online or traditional media outlets. Maintaining a high-quality and up-to-date blog is an important part of this. Not only does it provide a place for editors to find and assess your writing, but it also helps you to improve the writing itself. Of course, media isn't the only arrow in the exposure quiver. Speaking engagements are also a great way to get yourself in front of prospective clients. We talked about associations a few moments ago. Do those associations have an annual conference? Well, maybe you could offer to speak or join a panel discussion at those. Look, you're an expert in your field, remember? You have the type of credibility. That event organizers are looking for. Your book proves this, so sending a copy to event organizers can be a good way to catch their attention, not to mention your book is a great source of IP for the presentation itself.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Those are the four pillars of building your authority. Now, let's talk about the success factors needed for actually putting those pillars in place. Without them, you'll struggle to actually execute on those four pillars of building authority. There are three key success factors that I want to share with you. The three things that you need to put in place in your business are one, personal branding, two, consistent content creation, and three, a well-oiled publicity machine.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Let's begin with personal branding. In fact, I want to talk about the personal branding triple threat. The triple threat includes the visual identity of your personal brand, your personal style, and communication presence, or how you communicate. We're talking about the total package here. Now, when it comes to visual identity, I'm not talking about Ryan Gosling or Scarlett Johansson good looks. If you've got that, too, good for you, we mortals are thrilled for you. No, I'm talking about the visual look and feel attached to your personal brand. For example, the logo style of your name, the colours and fonts that you use, the language that you use.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Do you have a style guide? If not, a branding consultant can help you create one. In regards to your personal style, this is where some awareness is required. An extension of your brand is your personal style, the clothes and accessories that you wear, your hairstyle, and so on, all these elements together, speak to your personal brand. It's all about looking the part, whether your part is tax accountant or surfer, to go back to our previous example. Now, for some, style is intuitive, they do it naturally, but for others, it can take some focused attention or even the help of a stylist. Being consistent with your personal brand is important, especially as you get more media attention. You don't want to confuse the market about who you are and what you represent. When people get confused, they move on.

Scott A. MacMillan:

The final piece to the personal branding triple threat that I talked about is communication presence. It's how you show up in public, especially when you're the centre of attention, especially when speaking on stage or on camera. As with style, some people are naturals at it and some aren't. Do you remember the first time that you walked up to address your classmates? Were you always the first one to put up your hand when teacher asked for a volunteer, or did you shy away and look down and hope that you didn't get picked?

Scott A. MacMillan:

Well, here's the good news: If you're not a natural-born centre-stage, limelight-loving speaker, join the club. Most of us aren't. Introverts unite. But the fact is, it takes work and often courage, but as with everything, we evolve and we improve with practice. Here's the best part about learning to speak in front of, or to a large audience or a television camera or take part in a podcast: You are an authority in your field. You literally just wrote the book on your topic, so forget about imposter syndrome. You are the real deal. Let your authenticity and credibility shine through. That is when the authority meter spikes. You know your stuff, you have the stuff, just bring it.

Scott A. MacMillan:

That said, awareness and practice helps. When you have a public appearance rehearse until you're comfortable. Do it out loud. Nervous? You might try meditation. Even yoga is a great tool for helping you to be more mindful about your breathing. Confident and comfortable communication is key. It puts your audience at ease so they can focus on listening and absorbing what you say. Combine that with your consistent visual identity and personal style and you are nailing your personal brand.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Now, to the second success factor for building authority: Consistent content creation. The authority strategy involves a good deal of content creation. The good news is your book acts as a master content asset, so you've already done much of the heavy lifting, but coordinating its adaptation into very pieces of content across a variety of media and platforms takes some organization. Set up a content calendar that specifies what will be shared, where, and when. This is important. I used to use a whiteboard for this and still do sometimes when sketching it out, but more recently, my assistant, Ania, and I have been coordinating the content calendar through Airtable, but you can do the same using Trello or ClickUp or any similar platform.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Frankly, that's working great. Each and every chapter of your book can be mined each and every month for a blog or a YouTube video or a podcast episode, or better yet, all three. Then those can be mined in turn to create shorter form content for various social media platforms, email lists, client communications, and so on. But unless you plan it, it's haphazard, and that's not what you want to do. As your content grows and your profile grows with it, hiring a content coordinator is not a bad idea. You can hire a virtual marketing assistant, someone to manage all of your social media needs in keeping with the content calendar that we just discussed.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Content production and technical execution really go hand-in-hand. For certain types of content creation, you may be able to easily manage both yourself, if you choose to. However, for others, you'll likely need a team of professionals to consistently produce content at scale. Freelancers are a great option for this. If it's a video you want to produce, for example, hire freelancers to shoot it, edit it, manage the sound, handle post-production if needed. You get the idea. Great content is work. It can be fun work, but it is work. I mentioned technical execution because creating great content means nothing if we can't get it out to an audience. Website development is a great example of having solid technical execution, same with setting up email automations, landing pages, and so on. Having a trusted resource that you can go to for all of this will make your life so much easier and allow you to focus on acquiring and serving your clients.

Scott A. MacMillan:

The final success factor in building authority is publicity. Lots of moving parts to this one. Do it right and it's an oiled machine, or at least it can be. Your publicity and PR machine should be able to handle the following activities related to the four pillars: Researching and entering awards, managing your relationships with associations, reaching out for testimonials, reviews, and endorsements, securing media coverage, podcast, appearances, speaking engagements, and so on. Now, a VA can handle much of this, but engaging a publicist, especially for the media components, is something that you might consider as well. A good, smart PR team is invaluable. Look for instincts. Do they recognize a good story? Can they capitalize on it? Do they know when and how to pitch it? Now, can you see how having these capabilities, these three success factors in place is important for executing on your strategy to build authority? As you use your book to build your authority, remember this.

Scott A. MacMillan:

Authority-building is about growing your profile as an expert thought leader in your field and it's foundational for every entrepreneur turned author. Executing this foundational strategy successfully establishes the profile needed to give you leverage in other areas like generating leads, expanding your reach, or launching new products or lines of business. Now is the time, time to write, time to publish, and time to grow. I'm Scott MacMillan. Until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan


Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

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