How To Create an Authority Strategy

June 13, 2024

Written by
Melinda Hinson


There are a variety of reasons for building your Authority – from growing your business to preparing for retirement to leaving a legacy. By becoming a thought leader with something to teach versus an operator with something to sell, you can enhance your authenticity and approachability. And ultimately, you can attain your personal and professional goals.

Wondering how to take your thought leadership to the next level? Here are seven easy steps to get you started.

Step 1: Identify Your North Star

Before you embark on an Authority-building journey, you need to define what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you’re gaining weight and out of shape, maybe your north star is to get fit.

Fine-tuning your north star or purpose can be a daunting proposition. Describing your purpose in a succinct and meaningful way can feel even more so. Jotting your thoughts on the following can help:

  • What are your personal and professional passions?
  • What are your core areas of expertise?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • How can you use your superpowers to help others achieve happiness, fulfillment?

As you walk through this process, you may get caught in the trap of creating an attribute-based statements like:

  • I provide dental services
  • I help business executives achieve their goals
  • I invest in early-stage startups

The downside to attribute-based statements is that they aren’t very inspirational, lacking insight into your unique gifts and points of differentiation. Developing a value-oriented statement, however, like that of Steven Barlett or Mel Robbins, can set you apart from others in your industry space.

  • Steven Bartlett: Pushing people off a cliff so they use their wings to fly
  • Mel Robbins: To share proven tools that empower people to create a better life

To create an aspirational statement like Steven or Mel, you can start with an attribute-oriented statement and then walk up an “emotional ladder” by continuously asking yourself why. Ultimately, you want to get to a place that touches the heartstrings a bit and easily conveys the value you offer others. It may be less about who you are and more about how you serve others.

After you have refined your purpose, it’s time to set some goals.

Step 2: Set Goals

Let’s say your mission is to register for the New York City Marathon. Buying some new shoes and splurging on a pair of Lululemon tights are sure ways to get your healthy regime in motion. Similarly with the North Star you identified above, you’ll need to identify the right building blocks to help you achieve that mission.

Do you want to build your notoriety as an author? Build a library of content that you can turn into a book? Launch a new podcast?

By envisioning what success looks like, it will be much easier to determine the high-level steps to get you there.

Whatever race you select, you need to determine your unique strengths to get you to the finish line.

Step 3: Stand Out in the Crowd

In order to position yourself for success, it’s important to know your audience, assess your strengths, and understand how other industry leaders are promoting their messages.

Know your audience
First, you must know and understand your target audience.

Who would most benefit by hearing the message you want to share? If you were speaking in front of a group of such individuals, who would they be? Male or female? How old? What would they be wearing? What keeps them up at night? Or what do they like to do for fun?

It may be easy to describe your audience’s industry or work title. Yet, if you build out psychographic qualities too, you’ll find yourself with a roomful of people that embrace your message.

Assess your strengths
What are your superpowers? It’s likely that you already harkened to these as you thought about your purpose in step one. A value-oriented statement should reflect your unique skills and experience.

However, don’t lose sight of superpowers that may not directly pertain to your “day job.” For example, if you run marathons because you have incredible stamina and love challenges, these are qualities that may set you apart in a professional environment, too.

It is also easier to reach your full potential as an Authority if you build it from a place of strength. If you are a great writer, then developing written content lays a great foundation. If your preference is to speak in front of large audiences, then prioritize this approach.

Know your competition
It’s always helpful to keep tabs on other thought leaders, both within and outside your industry niche, who have built their Authority effectively.

What is their mission? How has their vision come to life? What can you learn from them? Ultimately, you need to develop your personal brand in a way that sets you apart, while also staying true to who you are.

Step 4: Audit Your Current Authority State

Training too hard and too soon could land you at the doctor’s office and leave you stranded on the sideline come race day. That’s why it’s important to understand the current shape, and state, you’re in.

The next step in your strategic planning process is to take note of your current state of Authority. You can do so through assessments like this one or you could even carry out a SWOT analysis to identify potential opportunities and how to achieve them. Another useful tool is to survey customers and/or prospects to test your message or uncover areas of interest from your audience.

It is also helpful to track where your Authority is today. Examples might be:

  • I have 500 followers on LinkedIn but would like more.
  • I have published three articles in the past three years.
  • I have spoken at 10 events over 10 years ago.
  • I have 135 subscribers in my current email database.
  • I have always wanted to produce a podcast but don’t know where to start.
  • I have ten different ideas for a book but never have time to think, much less write.

Don’t feel discouraged if six months of training feels like an eternity (it gets better along the journey, I promise). You don’t start out on Day One of your training plan in prime shape for race day.

Now may be the perfect opportunity for a focus on yourself as a means of helping others. But you have to follow a roadmap to get there.

Step 5: Create the Roadmap

Creating a training plan is crucial to getting in shape. The right mix of endurance runs and speed workouts, mileage and rest days, is imperative for optimal results. Otherwise, you may find yourself hitting a wall well before mile 20.

To build your Authority, you need to determine the right mix of tactics to help you achieve your objectives. Multiple touches are more effective in building awareness and Authority, but quality matters, too. Otherwise, you might end up with the best kept secret, unable to change the lives of others.

For example, if you are trying to pitch yourself for paid speaking engagements and your personal website is non-existent or unprofessional, it might be challenging to convey credibility to an event organizer. Likewise, if you want to improve your organic search ranking, little or no original content will inhibit your ability to drive users to your website.

Your roadmap might look something like:

  • Month 1: Refine my personal brand identity
  • Months 2-3: Build a personal brand website
  • Months 4-10: Create content to post on my personal brand website and social channels
  • Month 10: Launch a PR plan to build awareness among my audience

After you have established the right media mix to achieve your objectives, it is important to include key milestones or benchmarks, including timeline and budget. After all, building Authority can be a marathon, too.

And you’ll need to lean on others to ensure you hit those milestones.

Step 6: Identify Your Support Crew

It’s really helpful to have a running partner on those long training runs. It’s almost spiritual to see a cheering crowd on race day. There’s no need to travel alone, regardless of your journey, when there are plenty of resources available to help.

At first pass, you can seek friends, colleagues and mentors to offer advice and assistance. Next, you can turn to professionals whose expertise offers a fresh perspective, like a coach or consultant.

You may also want to enlist a content strategist and/or writer to help you create compelling newsletters. If you wish to build a new website, designers and developers are immensely helpful if not irreplaceable resources. Publicists are invaluable professionals with know-who and long-time press relationships.

If you build your Authority from a place of strength, you can identify the right pit crew to fill in the gaps.

Step 7: Celebrate, Measure and Keep on Running

When you cross the finish line, you might sign up for the next race before the fatigue and soreness set in. Or perhaps you decided to bury your running shoes as soon as you change to a pair of flip flops. Either way, to stay in shape, you have to keep working at it.

As you move along the authority building journey, there will be both unexpected climbs and glorious vistas. It’s important to note your progress along the way, making refinements to keep your personal brand relevant.

After you have executed tactics, measure their success. For example, check your website traffic and measure open rates. Which podcasts had the most downloads? What social posts got the most likes and shares? Then build upon what’s working and improve what’s not.

The finish line is a moving target. To start the journey with a professional by your side, consider requesting a complimentary consultation with our team.

Ready, set, go!

Melinda Hinson

VP of Authority Strategy

For over twenty years, Melinda has successfully accelerated growth for businesses by developing brand and growth strategies. Her background spans venture-backed to Fortune 500 companies, with professional experience in Health Tech, Consumer Goods,...

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