Authority Hacking: Secrets for a Successful Startup

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***Dennis in Presentation

I do believe that a lot of people are just in takeoff mode right now. I’ve been hearing it all my life. We are in takeoff mode but in a very different way now because most of us live on the internet with just our phones. It has given us a sense of true democracy and power.

Now is the most powerful time ever in human history, especially for Pakistan, and I am just so thankful for the privilege of getting invited to Pakistan to give a presentation where I have the opportunity to share my mission and how people from this country and startups specifically, can take advantage of the Internet.

You can agree with me that launching a startup is very difficult. It’s the most challenging thing to start because you’re coming in with no momentum. It’s difficult, but if you win, it can be really big. Maybe, you have your underlying product or service. Maybe, you’re selling something else, but you’re not sure what to sell or don’t have the product yet. 

You know, people make decisions based on who they know they can trust, not on some sort of objective analysis. In the United States, they have this idea about Pakistan, which is incorrect. The greatest challenge is how to bypass that.

Yes, you can market directly to the client by saying, “Hey, buy my stuff. Here’s a landing page. Here’s why you need to be obsessed about your homepage.” 

That was the same mistake a lot of startups made wasting time with nonsense. Don’t do that. 

Instead of gathering testimonials, find a LIGHTHOUSE.

Why do people think that just having testimonials for products or services is enough to fly? Why do we think there is more credibility with a testimonial than talking about our product or service?  I don’t think anybody’s going to disagree with that. However, this idea of the testimonial is bullshit.

I want you to reframe this idea of a testimonial into something that we call a LIGHTHOUSE. 

So, what is a LIGHTHOUSE? 

Josh Nelson is our mentor, and he is someone who’s running a pool of people who are all owners of digital agencies. He gets them together in a place occasionally, and he has groups online where people get together. 

Another thing that he does is organize these meetings where everybody starts sharing and learning from each and every one.

Josh Nelson is the most authoritative person for digital marketing agencies and is considered a LIGHTHOUSE because if you reach out to him, that is you reaching one level above the client directly.

Instead of trying to market directly to your client, “Oh, our product is so good and we’re cheaper,” go one level above to who it is that your client respects the most.

When you see content with Josh Nelson and other people interviewing Josh Nelson, what happens is people can see that. People are crazy about Josh Nelson, and if he says something about you or your company, that will greatly impact your business. 

Essentially, if you’re going talk about yourself, that’s not going to give you as much credibility as someone else who is respected in the space saying it.

But, the other thing that’s also true is when you build up someone else’s brand, you’re also indirectly building yours. That’s absolutely true in PR.

You have to be friends with people who are in the positions you want to be in, and you can indirectly build your brand by helping them build theirs.

So, who is your LIGHTHOUSE? There could be three or four. Do you know who that is? Is it someone that your clients respect? Who do the people you want to buy from respect? Is it an organization? Is it a person? Is it a conference? Is it a vendor that offers a related product that’s kind of complimentary? Is it a competitor that you can partner with? Who are these people? What are the organizations and therefore, who are the people associated with them? Who can you associate with? 

With the startup, by definition, people are like, “Oh, I don’t really know. They are a startup. Are they going to be around? How can I trust them with my money?” But if you associate with another organization or someone who’s well-known, that makes your brand more trustworthy.

Perceived Authority

Perceived authority is the whole point of PR hacking. It is when other people believe that you are good at something because you’re associated with someone who is a professional and well-known in that topic. Therefore, your association with them conveys authority to you on a topic you’ve chosen.

Do you see how this is inception? It’s the Dream Inside The Dream Inside the Dream, and what’s the whole point?

You planted the idea to make that person feel like it was their idea. So, you were playing multiple steps ahead. How do you take it into action? Here’s how:

 1. Start with your Topic Wheel

Topic Wheel 1

In the middle is your brand. Picture your face, and if you feel shy about it, then put someone else’s face as the spokesperson. If this is your product or service, what are the things that you would know a lot about based on your product or service? If it’s consulting, then obviously, you have the expertise and things related to your consulting. 

Can you think of three things that are professional and three things that are personal and build this topic wheel? Think of three things that you would expect to be knowledgeable about, given what your practice service does. 

What are things that you want to be known for?

If you say that you want to be known for mentorship, well, if you just say that you know a lot about mentorship, that means nothing because you have to back it up. Who are the people that are knowledgeable about entrepreneurship or managing people or education?

If you know who those people are, create content such as long-form podcasts. What you’re going to do is go from those topics to think about who these different people are.

The reason why it’s inception is you have pre-chosen these particular topics, which then drive who you want to network with.

Do you need help with the Inception Model? Here is an Office Hour Episode that talks about that and how Inception is key to Building Authority Organically.

 2. Network

Most people think about networking as “Look at all these people I know. Here are some famous people– Gary Vaynerchuk, whoever it might be.” That is the incorrect way of thinking about this. It’s not Bingo.

Bingo is trying to check as many boxes with famous people as you can, but this is not the way to organize your content–just like a content calendar. Don’t do that. It’s the same way as collecting testimonials. It seems like a smart thing to do, but it’s not. It’s a waste of time.

All this does is say, “Look at me. Look at all the famous people I know”. What a big turnoff.  It’s just like boasting in front of everybody. No one wants to see that.

Build a genuine connection with your LIGHTHOUSE instead

When you go to conferences, take 15-second videos or 10-second videos together. Do selfies if you want, but 10-second stories carry way more power because there’s a story. There’s emotion and a vibe in a video. You can get way more than just some static pictures. Think about how this is going to impact your startup.

How do you approach them?

  • Prepare your 10-second pitch where you say, “This is our startup. This is what we do and all the stuff we make,” and that would be very helpful because you can repeat it again, and you won’t be fearful again. 
  •  Don’t overthink it.
  •  Find who you want to get connected with. 
  •  Join the group

Mostly, it’s a paid group, and once you join the group, I’m assuming you’ll learn a lot from the content and more from the content of other agencies in the group who were successfully doing things. 

That’s what Josh is doing. He doesn’t preach himself, but what he does is he gets everyone in one room or one zoom call where everybody shares their best practices. That’s the key. 

And it’s not only just the best practices but also tools. If someone is doing something on an Excel sheet, they will share the Excel sheet as well. 

That’s where the change is coming from. It’s a huge blessing to be in those groups. You could say you’re close friends with multiple people in those groups. That’s the kind of friendship you develop.

When you’re approaching somebody for a 10-second video, you want to figure out how you can add value to them. Do your research.

If you’re going to ask for something or want something in return, too many people go wrong because they go straight for it. Everybody does that, but if you want to get results, learn to invest.

And if you want to have results that people typically don’t have, you have to do things that people don’t do. You have to find ways to provide that value.

Do you want to learn how to Power Network at the Conference to ensure you’ll win at each event you’ll attend? The Office Hours episode will teach you how.

3.  Create video content

Videos are the way forward. Pictures won’t let you get there.

What do you think is the impact of the video (above) on my brand for people thinking whether I’m authoritative on things like Facebook marketing?

Some people saw that. Let me tell you where the real power was. It wasn’t in the people watching the video because those people were busy, maybe boarding the airplane. They look up at the screen. They were not paying attention. The real power is taking this snippet and then putting it on Facebook or YouTube and talking about it, especially in presentations. All those other people are now seeing the authority you have that you’ve built across multiple LIGHTHOUSES.

Not sure how to get started with your Content Creation Journey? Here is a course in Content Marketing that will set you up for success.

 4. Create Content with your LIGHTHOUSE

The inception way of thinking looks like this, “How do I build connections with these LIGHTHOUSES to create long-form content that we chop into different pieces?”

What we’re talking about is taking the attention from yourself, elevating someone else, and keeping talking about them sincerely because when it’s genuine, they’re going to reflect it on you. That’s what you’re looking for. 

If you start strategically thinking about the topics you want to be known for, who are the people that are very well known and authoritative and have an audience on that particular topic? Can you co-create content with them? 

When you co-create content, you’ll have lots of content you can push out there on all these different channels all of a sudden.

What am I doing here? I’m intentionally manipulating the audience. A lot of people know Grant Cardone. He has millions of followers across social media and, essentially, Grants making a video about me.

 5. Repurpose Content

When you have some high-quality and long-form content you created with your LIGHTHOUSE, don’t just let it live on one channel– such as Facebook Live. Turn it into a blog post or another form of content.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is when they have this high authority content, but they stop there and lose all the power, which is such a shame. It’s like having a winning lottery ticket that you don’t even scratch off to find out that you’re winning.

The key is when you have some winning piece of content because it’s authoritative, because of who it’s with or where it’s being said, you’ll want to get more. You want to maximize that. How do you do that? You repurpose it. 

Repurposing means you cut it up into different pieces, like a long-form YouTube video, chopped into different stories.

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Need confirmation on how powerful the process of repurposing can be? Here is an Office Hours episode where Dennis explained how repurposing content can get you the traffic that you’re looking for, including content techniques that work in the world of digital marketing.

4. Publish 

5. Deploy Dollar-a-Day Strategy

We’re repurposing by chopping it into different pieces, publishing them, and boosting them.

We’ve spent a billion dollars doing the Dollar-a-Day strategy in the last 15 years. It works very well because you’re taking these little pieces of content and micro-targeting the other people that are fans of that LIGHTHOUSE to maximize the power of your content and your LIGHTHOUSE.

If you are like most people who are constantly getting these social media posts or blog posts that get no traffic, that’s where the real problem is. 

With social media, there is just so much competition and noise that if you are just boosting straight-up advertisements where you’re promoting your stuff, no one would want to share that because it’s obviously an advertisement. 

You take something that is not an advertisement, like if you’re interviewing someone else who’s an expert or you are elevating somebody else.

Run ads against it so that the algorithm– Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok will show it to more people associated with your LIGHTHOUSE. 

Now, this sounds a bit technical, but this is something that we’ve done over and over again, and it works unbelievably well. As long as you have people who believe in you and you have a product or service where customers are willing to say good things about you, those two things are true. It is like cheating on social media or digital, the secret to how startups become successful.

The other thing I can do is take that CNN video and the Grant Cardone clip above, post it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever platform it is, and run ads to people who like Grant Cardone and CNN. 

What does that do when people learn about me for the first time? It gives me instant credibility.

Find ways to be unique and stick out. Use people’s biases that already exist to your advantage.

If your audience already likes and respects somebody and you can associate with that person, it will help you on your journey.

Not sure how the Dollar-a-Day Strategy works? Here is a course that will get you up to speed so you can enjoy driving traffic and conversions for as low as $1 per day. 

 6. Retargeting

I’m not trying to be a social media celebrity. I’m trying to drive leads and sales for my startup. What I do is I take any one of those pieces of content, and I target it against any of the fans, or I retarget against anyone who’s seen any of my other content based on my tag manager container that has my Google, Facebook, and Twitter and retargeting all the pixels inside Tag Manager.

I’m retargeting my entire email list. I’m retargeting anyone who’s seen my videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn. Because now, I have a sequence of high-authority pieces of content that they’ll see over and over again. When it’s time to buy, your brand sticks to their mind. 

And let me remind you, we don’t know when someone wants to buy because, in social media, you don’t really know that, and in Google, you only sometimes know that.

Want to see how retargeting works? Here is an Office Hours episode that will bring you behind the scenes to show you how Dennis and Logan use Facebook targeting for PR, media inception, retargeting, and building a brand.

7. Get Featured

For a startup, you might not have particular search terms because you have a new kind of product. You can get around that through word-of-mouth, having high-authority content, and being associated with well-known people.

Another thing that can help is if you get featured in one big article and use that to get all your other press. You target journalists and run Dollar-a-Day against the feature.

Take your high-authority content and show it to high-authority people.

You cannot easily manipulate people who work in media unless you’re using this particular technique in retargeting because they will recognize everyone trying to use PR against what they’re doing.

8. Create more Authority via a Book

Do you believe that a book would create more authority for you?

A book is probably one of the most authoritative pieces of content you could have out there. 

Just like I have this best-selling book on social media, my previous book, which I created along with a co-author, sold 800,000 copies on Facebook ads, and the previous book in Google ads and then TikTok ads, where we sold 12,000 copies.

tiktok book

I’m the main author of the book above, but I didn’t actually write this book. It wasn’t ghostwritten either.

Want an Ebook done for you? We have a package for busy people just like you.

The foundation of anything in entrepreneurship is what you’re offering somebody. If you’re offering somebody something very attractive, a whole bunch of people is going to take action on it. You’re going to have a lot of opportunities. 

The key is implementation, but it starts with the mindset of realizing you don’t have any competitors. When someone else is doing well, you want to be able to share.

Just like how it’s extremely easy in Pakistan to get in the news or do a press conference, it’s extremely easy to get from one news to another. It sounds difficult, but the challenge is not the newspaper. It’s usually the mindset–It’s us

It may feel like a lot of work, and you might think, “Well, I can’t get on CNN, the New York Times, or these other sorts.” It’s not that hard. You just need one, and you can also pay for one. You get one piece of press, then use the Dollar-a-Day technique. Repurpose this to attract other people. 

You might not get CNN on the first try, but you’ll get something. When you have a couple of these, you can expose that to all the journalists, and that’s how you’ll win. 

You need to remember that people make decisions based on who they trust. That’s just how they make decisions, not on this cost-benefit chart calculation analysis. It’s not how people make decisions. They make decisions with the heart. You guys know that.

Business is about trust, not about the product. It’s trust that gets you through first. You don’t build trust when you ask for something. You’re not going to get it. The way to build trust is through information and through giving.

The biggest problem comes in the mindset. We are more worried about how it is going to get done because we are all analytical. Unfortunately, we are designed to think about it. We’re all right, but we are not dreaming enough. As Martin Luther King’s tweet starts with “I have a dream,” I have a dream that in this country, nobody should make it less than a hundred thousand repeats a month. 

It’s not a big dream. It’s a very small dream because I’ve seen other countries do it in the last few years– Bangladesh has done it. Why can’t Pakistan? 

The key to driving marketing is to preempt the trust that’s already been built by someone else instead of the new trust that you have to come up with.

Interested to learn more about what other hacks you can do to Build your Authority and be able to grow your business? Here is another Office Hours episode that you can check out. 

Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu
Dennis Yu is co-author of the #1 best-selling book on Amazon in social media, The Definitive Guide to TikTok Ads.  He has spent a billion dollars on Facebook ads across his agencies and agencies he advises. Mr. Yu is the "million jobs" guy-- on a mission to create one million jobs via hands-on social media training, partnering with universities and professional organizations.You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.