Expert, Guru, Or Authority

A Message

You have to have a clear message, and it must be more than just an idea or a set of tips. It has to be something substantial, with the power to change people’s lives. If your message comes through, showing others how they’ve erred in the past and how they can fix it, then you’re on the path to greatness.

…you have to clearly define your core message.

Your message should offer insight on the trials and troubles ahead. If you’ve reached success in your business, then you’ve been down a road others will want to travel after you. If you can warn people of hazards, explaining how to get around them when it’s time, you’ll be a strong authority, helping many others reach their success.

Keep in mind, you have to clearly define your core message. Your core message is the foundation for everything you do. My core message is how to leverage the power of publishing a book to become recognized as an authority, which, in turn, will bring success.

two person standing on gray tile paving

To define your message, decide what you want to teach people or help them accomplish. Make it crystal clear and be very specific. My message is clear-cut. Other experts and gurus in the book writing world might say, “I want to teach people how to write books,” or “I want to teach people how to sell books.” My message is not that vague.

I want to help authors leverage their books to become the authority in their fields. I don’t want to teach every author, but I want to teach the authors who are ready to become authorities. I want to teach authors who are ready to be recognized as the authority, thereby enhancing their business. My message is very precise.

Once you define your core message, it’ll be easy to build the rest of the story from the inside out. Once I knew my message, I knew next steps: to teach people how to write books and to teach people how to get their books published. I want to teach people how to use their book in their business and how to leverage that book to grow their business.

It’s not about me; it’s about the people I want to help

JIm Howard

Discover and then focus in on your core message. Determine what you want to teach people (being very specific about

it), and then build the necessary next steps. Your message should be unique, an exclusive idea or strategy specific to you, something you do that others don’t. It could be secrets you’ve discovered on your way to success. Don’t copy other people’s advice. Make it true to you. Standing on your own thoughts and discoveries will set you apart as the authority.

The key to a great core message is making it others-centered, not self-centered. As you notice, there’s nothing in my core message that promotes what I can do or says I’m the best.

It’s not about me; it’s all about the people I want to help. My message doesn’t focus on what I’ve accomplished in the past. Rather, it communicates my interest in helping others. Ultimately, I want to guide authors to leverage the power of their book.

Keeping your message other-centered, not self-centered, will draw people to you. They will want to buy into your message, buy your products and services, and take your advice because they believe you’re on their side. They know you want them to succeed.

An Audience

You have to have an audience; your audience is made up of people looking for the information you have. Without

that, nobody will ever hear you. It’s what I call being caught up in “Franklandia.” Years ago, Time Warner Cable ran a commercial that said you should be the master of your own domain. It started with this guy coming out of his house, standing on his front stoop, and laying down proclamations; he declared his land the land of Franklandia, with new rules. He would stay up as late as he wanted to watch infomercials, have high-speed Internet with the touch of his finger, and on and on.

Then the camera pans out, and there was nobody listening. There was nobody in the yard or on the street, so he was talking to himself. Yes, he became the master of his own domain, but nobody cared. You don’t want that. Build your audience first; then proclaim your wishes. No audience, no market; no market, no business.

The number one mistake I see authors make is writing the book and hoping people will want it. The Field of Dreams is a great movie, but just because you write it, you have no guarantee the readers will come!

Long before you write a book, you should start building your audience. Simply put, writing a book to build an audience is backwards. Build your audience and then write

the book you will offer that audience. Your kingdom will grow by leaps and bounds.

Marketers, business consultants, and experts talk about this truth all the time: the true power in your business is in your list, in the people you’ve attracted, those who know you, like you, trust you, and want to buy from you. They are your

audience. When you start delivering your message, they will be hear it and take action.

Publishers will want to know the size of your platform. In other words, what can you do for them? How far will your message go? Who can you reach that no one else could? You see, the most basic definition of a publisher is someone who makes information available. Publishing is not really about sales or marketing, so there’s nothing that says they will market or sell your book. They’re going to create your book and make it available to others. The bulk of the marketing falls on, guess who? The author.

The publisher will spend the bulk of their effort getting your book on bookstore shelves. You must get the books off the shelf to your audience. So what is the size of your audience and list? As you talk to media outlets, you’ll get the same reaction. What do you bring to the table? What’s your platform? How big is your list? So start building your community now; it’ll come in handy later.

The Ability and Willingness to Share

It’s not enough to have a message and an audience. You have to have the ability and willingness to share your information. Having incredible content doesn’t matter if it isn’t shared.

Notice I mentioned both the ability and willingness to share. These are two very different things. You can have the ability to share the information, to create products and deliver them, but if you’re not willing to do these things, then having the ability doesn’t matter.

Remember this ability can be taught, and willingness can be changed.

There are a number of reasons you as an author may not be willing to share. Maybe you’re selfish and don’t want people to get your secrets or information. You may be worried about teaching would-be competitors, or you may simply be concerned about being judged by the world. If that’s the case for you, it’s fine. But you won’t be able to be the authority in your field because to be the authority you have to be willing to share your information.

On the other hand, maybe you’re willing, but you’re not able.

It could be you’re not sure how to create video or publish a blog. Maybe you’re not comfortable speaking from stage, or you may not be sure you have the ability to deliver your message. If that’s the issue, guess what? The “able” can be taught, so if you’re “willing,” I can show you how to deliver your message.

If you’re nervous about one day sharing your message on stage, don’t be. The first time I spoke to an audience, it was a complete disaster. I actually said I would never do it again, yet now I speak all across the country and internationally.

Never say never! Remember this: ability can be taught, and willingness can be changed. The bottom line is this: to be the authority, you have to have the ability and willingness to share.

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Jim Howard

With over 30 years in commercial print, branding and publishing, Jim Howard has dedicated much of his life to helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners move ahead in their business. Follow him at,

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