As the Authority Positioning Coach, Mike Saunders helps entrepreneurs break out of obscurity by amplifying their hidden expertise to a position of prestige & becoming THE go-to Authority & Expert in their industry.
The Authority Positioning Coach is a Boutique Marketing Agency providing “Done-for-You” Authority Positioning Packages to elevate your brand to a position of status and prestige. He is the author of Amazon Bestselling book Authority Selling™, contributor to The Huffington Post, Adjunct Marketing Professor at several Universities and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council – an invitation-only community for the World’s Most Influential Business Coaches.
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1) Start positioning yourself as an authority in your industry.
2) Always keep your eye on the road and do your due diligence.
3) A book is a tangible, authority positioning asset.
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[01:04] – Mike brings an academic side to marketing
[01:18] – His family of 6 lives in Denver, Colorado
[01:55] – Mike brings real-world marketing tactical knowledge to the classroom and academic concepts to his marketing strategies for his clients
[03:09] – His area of expertise is in authority positioning
[03:58] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: People don’t think that they are the authority
[05:46] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: Mike’s worst moment was due to making poor decisions and getting carried away with shiny objects. Mike was trying to gain visibility by doing all sorts of things; but, because he didn’t do any research ahead of time, he didn’t get anywhere
[07:20] – “Do your due diligence”
[08:19] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Two summers ago, Mike and his family went to Sea World in California and jumped on a roller coaster. His son who was nine at the time agreed. While on the ride, Mike remembers his son frantically telling him that he wanted to get off the ride. When they got off the ride, his son wanted to ride again. Mike realized his son was past the fear and they all rode it again three times.
[09:18] – The entrepreneurial journey is like that experience: when people get past their fear, they want to push for more
[10:16] – Mike started doing all things for all people, which turned out to be a horrible mistake
[10:30] – He put out a book on Kindle and Amazon
[11:04] – One colleague asked Mike to teach his class about business social media; that landed him a $9,000 teaching contract
[11:36] – Having a book positions you as an authority
[12:37] – “Do something that scares you”
[13:46] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “Being able to say to someone: you need to be credible before you become incredible”
[14:21] – Anything you do to bolster and boost your authority is an authority positioning asset
[19:10] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “Confidence”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “Never ever stop learning”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “Start your day off right”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Kindle
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – When Buyers Say No
[21:42] – “You have to focus”
Mike Saunders: I’m ready, JLD.
John Lee Dumas: Yes! Mike is the author of the Amazon bestselling book Authority Selling. He’s a contributor to The Huffington Post and Forbes, and a marketing professor at several universities.
Mike, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Mike Saunders: Yeah, thanks so much for the opportunity. The interesting thing is so many times people would say, “I’m a marketing consultant,” and then you conjure up these specific ideas of marketing consultants, or people calling you on the phone from overseas saying, “I can do marketing things.” But I think the really interesting thing is I bring an academic side to marketing because I teach marketing for several universities, like you mentioned, and I just take that academic approach with my clients. And I run a boutique marketing agency called Marketing Huddle.
And I have a wife and four kids, and we live in the beautiful Denver, Colorado, area. We love going up in the mountains, and hiking, and kayaking, and riding our ATV, and just doing all kinds of fun stuff.
John Lee Dumas: Now, people that are kind of rock-and-rolling the entrepreneurial world hear stuff being taught at colleges and universities in the marketing sphere, and they’re like, “Are they still talking about MySpace and Friendster?” How are you dispelling that myth? How are you, Mike Saunders, staying cutting edge?
Mike Saunders: Just staying immersed in the industry. And what I explain so many times to students and faculty that I interact with is I bring real-world, cutting-edge, boots-on-the-ground tactical knowledge to the classroom, and then I explain to my clients that I bring academic concepts to my marketing strategies because, like you said, there are those old-fashioned ways you hear in the textbooks and the curriculums is like, “Seriously? We’re talking about that still?” But I think the concepts always stand firm, and here’s an example.
There’s a marketing concept called IMC, which stands for integrated marketing communications. And so, what it basically means is keeping your marketing message, your message to market, congruent and consistent across all channels. You can’t have it one way on Twitter and one way on Facebook and one way when they meet you in person. So, when you can take that marketing concept of IMC and then bring it into the real world and say, “Here’s how we implement it today with what’s going on today,” that’s what makes it come alive.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, it’s not Entrepreneur on Fire on Facebook and Entrepreneur on Ice on Twitter. It’s the one brand, the same message, across all platforms. And, Mike, it sounds like we’ve kind of touched upon a little bit of this already, but I’m just kinda curious. If there was one thing that you would, today, consider yourself an expert in, what is that single area of expertise?
Mike Saunders: Well, I’m the Authority Positioning Coach, so it is positioning yourself as an authority and an expert. So many times, entrepreneurs feel like, “Well, I’m kinda good at this, but I’m not an expert,” but you really are. And my whole goal in my agency is working with entrepreneurs that are ready to take their brand to that next level and to be able to have that authority created for them. And what we find is the entrepreneur starts walking a little bit more tall and speaking a little bit more confidently, and their mindset tends to shift because they start going, “You know what? I do have that going on, and I am able to make this difference in the lives of my clients.”
So, most definitely, my focus is authority positioning.
John Lee Dumas: What’s something that we – myself, Fire Nation – don’t know about authority positioning that, frankly, we probably should?
Mike Saunders: I would say that, a lot of times, people don’t think that they are the authority, and I think it’s really interesting. I’m working with a friend and a client, Henry Kaminski, and his program called The Brand Accelerator, and he and I are talking back and forth on some of these things that are very similar in the sense that it is a mindset shift.
So, one of the things that people really don’t realize is their kneejerk reaction would be, “I’m not that authority and the expert,” but if you were to sit down and ask them and say, “Hey, tell me the top-ten frequently asked questions that you get from your prospects,” they’re gonna easily rattle off five or ten questions. But then, when you go deeper and say, “Now, let’s talk about the should-ask questions. What are some questions that those prospects of yours should be asking and if they knew the answer to those questions, boy, they would really, really have a breakthrough and understand what you did?”
And I ask this all the time, and it’s almost like, over the phone or in person, their light bulb goes off, and they’re like, “Well, if they would just understand this, and if they realize that that,” and now, all of a sudden, you can bring it back full circle and say, “You’re an expert. These people didn’t even know most of the frequently asked questions, much less these ‘should’ deeper questions.” And now, when you’re able to become something really important, become an educator and an advocate for your target audience, that entrepreneur now is looked to as that trustworthy expert and authority figure.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, try that “should” exercise. I think you might be surprised with what comes out of that. And, Mike, I wanna talk now about your journey, and I really wanna hone in on the story that you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment hinges upon. So, take us to the moment that you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment, and tell us that story.
Mike Saunders: I think it’s just making poor decisions. You get all fired up about, “Oh, look at this good thing, the shiny object,” and now, all of a sudden, you pull the trigger on it, and it didn’t work out. And so, what that would be is I think that, for some people, one piece of advice works like gangbusters, and for other people maybe not.
And I’m not saying one way or the other, but I was really focusing on going deep on a specific vertical, and so I was going and picking this vertical and just being everything to those people. And so, the worst decision that I made in that was I started thinking, “Well, okay, if I can exhibit at their trade show, and if I can buy a spot in their member directory, and if I can be visible to them and just dump a whole bunch of money into that…”
But the problem was I didn’t do any research ahead of time to maybe ask the membership director and say, “Can we shoot out a quick survey? Could we get a little survey and say, ‘Hey, how do you feel about what would your needs be in this area?’” because if I had done that, I would have realized that dumping thousands of dollars into that event for that niche, that industry vertical, would have been a poor idea.
And so, let’s put a little bit of egg back on my face. I teach this and market research and marketing research. You need to do that, but then I didn’t, and I made a mistake, and it was not a good one. It was not fun to see or hear crickets chirping after that campaign.
John Lee Dumas: One lesson. What’s the one takeaway, Mike, that you want to make sure our listeners get from that story?
Mike Saunders: Do your due diligence. Don’t just have that looks-good, sounds-good, boom, let’s make that payment because I see stars in the eyes, I see that shiny object. And the takeaway would be: Evaluate something, maybe even do the old fashioned “sleep on it” – don’t make that immediate decision – but don’t get that myopic blinder syndrome where you just think, “Yep, this is gonna work, and here’s all this new business that’s gonna come from it.” Look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Do the devil’s advocate and see what could go wrong, and then do that research first, even if it’s just a quick segment of research, and you can determine if that is gonna be a good decision. So, definitely do your research.
John Lee Dumas: Mike, I wanna talk about one of the greatest ideas that you’ve had to date. I want to talk about that aha moment. I want to challenge you here. I really want you to tell a story around this. I want you to take us to that moment, without any vagaries, but into that moment. Tell us the surrounding story around the idea that happened, and then walk us through how you turned that idea into success.
Mike Saunders: I think a lot of people love roller coasters, so my family and I love roller coasters. So, about two summers ago, we went to Sea World in California, and we thought, “Let’s roll the dice and jump on this Manta.” Well, my son, at the time, was about 9, and he was thinking, “Okay, let’s jump on.” And we all got on there, and it is really a good one. Now, I don’t know how it rates in the top whatever, but it’s fast and furious and really herky jerky. And I distinctly remember looking back and seeing my son’s white knuckles, literally, hearing him saying, “I wanna get off! I wanna get off!” I mean, like frantic scared.
And the interesting thing was here’s something really cool. We get off, we kind of catch our breath, and he goes, “I wanna do it again.” But he was fearful, and he moved past that fear, and we literally rode it three more times that day. No matter what the lines were, we jumped on and rode it, and he loved it, and we now all talk about that as our favorite ride.
Well, isn’t the entrepreneurial journey just like that experience, where you think, “Ooh, I don’t know. It seems right,” and then you’re white-knuckled fear, but then you push through it? And then, you go, “I can do something else. What else can I do? Oh, that one roller coaster with the flip and the upside-down? Let’s do that.”
So, what happened was we all have those journeys of fear, and after college, I spent about 11, 12 years in the mortgage banking industry and just crushed it, just making money hand over fist, and it was just the good old days. And then, 2007 happens, and the credit crisis, and to say that my income dropped was not even close. It just disappeared. It just went away.
So, what happened there was I went and did my MBA focusing in on marketing, redesigned my life and my career at that point, and kind of like that phoenix, I had to rise from the ashes because I was really good in the mortgage banking industry, but I hadn’t done anything in the marketing world. So, I had to start rebuilding my own persona, my own personal brand.
And so, I started doing all things to all people, and doing a little bit of social media this and mobile marketing and SEO, and that was a horrible mistake. Tried doing Chamber meetings and networking and all of these things. I just was spinning my wheels. And then, I stumbled upon, really, putting out enough content, and someone said, “Put that dude up on Kindle and have a book,” and I’m like, “Yeah, that makes sense.” So, I figured out and stumbled away how to get a book on Kindle and then get it up on paperback through Amazon, through their sister company CreateSpace.
And I literally remember and can picture being seated around this conference room table of a whole bunch of marketing consultants because I did for years, and I still do here and there, consult for the Small Business Development Center, so the SBDC. And one of the colleagues, when my book came out, I handed it out to everyone, and he, after the meeting, says, “Hey” – and the book was on business social media, so that was a little bit of a twist because everyone’s talking social media but not business social media. And he goes, “Hey, come present for my class.”
So, I did a few weeks later, presented the topic on his class, and then afterwards, I got a $9,000.00 teaching contract that literally would have never happened unless it hadn’t been for that book. If I’d wrote a blog post and said to those consultants, “Hey, read my blog post,” they would have read the first paragraph, but having a book in hand, tangible, positions you as the authority.
So, from that point on, I refocused my entire marketing agency, quit doing all those teeny little services, and focused specifically on authority positioning. And at that point, you can start getting really good, kind of like the Gladwell 10,000 Hour concept and Tony Robbins’ Constant And Never-ending Improvement. You’ve gotta be having that mentality of picking something, sticking with it, and not just trying it for ten seconds.
And I think that’s what happened. And now, when I work with my clients on all of that – authority positioning – there’s a lot of nuances in there, but being about to position that brand, their brand, their self, their personal brand and business brand as an authority and expert just elevates them so far ahead of their competition. And so, that kind of journey that I came through and experienced it for myself, it’s not something where it’s like, “This ought to work for you.” It’s like, “This worked for me.”
And over and over and over again, to be able to close deals with someone that you’ve never heard of before, sees you online, reads your stuff, listens to your interviews, calls you up, and says, “I need this, and where can I send the check?” that’s powerful.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, there’s a lot that you can take from what Mike just shared because he just shared a lot. The thing that I wanna hone in on is do something that scares you. Do something that scares you because you don’t know if that might become the thing that excites you down the road, maybe even that second or third time, like the roller coaster story we heard. How many times have you seen somebody literally dragged up on a karaoke stage terrified to sing that song, and then you can’t drag that person off the stage no matter how annoying and bad they are because they’re just loving it so much? So, do something that scares you because that might become something that you love.
I used to be terrified to jump on podcast interviews. That was something that scared me, but guess what? Now, it’s become something that I look forward to. It’s an incredibly enjoyable experience, but I had to get past my fear to get to this place, to get to this point.
And, Mike, what would you say, today, is the thing that excites you the most?
Mike Saunders: Seeing this come alive for people because I think that this is something that they hear a little bit about, but they think, “That’s beyond my reach. I can’t do anything about this.” What excites me is being able to say to someone, “You need to be credible before you become incredible.” And I think people feel like they’re kind of obscure and invisible and a ghost, and not addressing your authority really keeps you in obscurity.
So, the thing that’s exciting is when I can lay this out to a client and show them exact examples. I call them Authority Positioning Assets, anything you do to bolster and boost your authority where you can put a stamp on it and say, “Look,” and point at this, whether it’s being mentioned in the media or being interviewed on a business podcast or having your book, any of those things are assets.
And when I can show a client, “Hey, let’s see what people see when they google you,” because there’s a whole other exercise. Google yourself and your business because, statistically, you can pay a lot of money on SEO and all of these things, but so many times, a huge percentage of times, people, when they hear of you, whether they’re at a networking function or you’re referred or advertising onling, they may not take your offer, but they’re gonna google your name and your business. What do they see?
And so, when you can show them what people would see about them now, and then flip over and show them and say, “Look, here’s a client I’m working with here, and we google their name and their business, look at this piece, and look at this. And of course, we see your website and LinkedIn. Of course, that’s obvious, but when you see this interview or this book or this media mention or this series of things, now all of a sudden, what do you think that person’s clients are gonna think or prospects before they even become a client?”
They’re gonna at least come to that meeting, whether it’s phone or in person, with a little bit of trust there to where that guy can blow it and he can make a pitch that doesn’t resonate, and you still can blow it, but when everything is firing the right way, now all of a sudden, they see you as an expert. They trust you because they’ve seen you do some things. And then, when you’re coming at them from a position of serving and valuing them, and becoming that educator and advocate, and you’re just presenting what you can do and how it can help the client.
So, the thing that gets me excited is this is truly, I feel, Blue Ocean. The Red Ocean is the SEO and the social media and all that. Blue Ocean is, “You know what? Let’s rise above all that, and let’s teach you how to build that authority positioning suite of assets, of things when your prospects see you, before they even talk to you, they know that you should be someone to talk about, and they’ll maybe take your call. And maybe when you have that proposal sent and you send behind some of these assets, maybe a FedEx copy of your book and some interviews, now they’re gonna really take you seriously.” So, to me, the Blue Ocean uniqueness of this strategy gets me super fired up.
John Lee Dumas: Again, Fire Nation, Mike just said a lot, but the one thing that I wanna pull out is become credible before you become incredible. I think those are incredibly wise words.
And, Fire Nation, Mike’s gonna be dropping some value bombs in the Lightning Round when we get back from thanking our sponsors.
Mike, are you ready to rock the Lightning Rounds?
Mike Saunders: Ready to roll.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Mike Saunders: I would say confidence. As I began to see my own Authority Positioning Assets being built out, I started seeing myself and my value prop from a whole new perspective.
John Lee Dumas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Mike Saunders: Never, ever stop learning. You either win or you learn, so never stop learning. Read, improve your business, learn, and stay connected with your industry.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Mike Saunders: I think it sounds, these days, a little cliché to say “start your day off right,” but you have to start your day off right. So, whatever that means for you, have that start, and then have an enthusiastic sense of urgency. So many times, people just let things drag out, so that enthusiastic sense of urgency is critical.
John Lee Dumas: Recommend one Internet resource.
Mike Saunders: I will recommend one strategy, but they touch on two resources. So, one is I love reading, so I do a lot of reading in Kindle, and a lot of people don’t realize this, but when you can sign into your Amazon account and go to Kindle Highlights, it’ll show you every Kindle book that you have and whatever highlights you’ve highlighted in there. So, I go through, and I do all my reading for business and marketing and things. So, I will go into there periodically, and the last three, four, five books I’ve read, there’s the book. Here’s all the highlights. I go copy, and I paste it right into my Evernote.
So, two tools, but one aspect of being able to go and review that book without having to page through, page through, page through.
John Lee Dumas: Recommend one book to join Authority Selling on our bookshelves and share why.
Mike Saunders: Tom Hopkins is the guru of all gurus, and I would have to say that his new book has got to be on your shelf, and that is called When Buyers Say No.
John Lee Dumas: When Buyers Say No. And that will happen, Fire Nation.
You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with MS and JLD today. So, keep up the heat, Fire Nation, and head over to EOFire.com. Type “Mike” in the search bar, and his Show Notes page will pop up with everything we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz – timestamps, links galore.
And, Mike, let’s end today on fire with you giving us a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Mike Saunders: I would say the parting piece is the fact that you have to focus. And I love that acronym: Follow one course until success. And you have to focus on one thing and not just try, but just really focus and stick with it. And then, when you’re thinking about authority positioning, my book, I’ve got a wonderful offer at AuthoritySellingBook.com, where you can pick up a copy of that book just for paying a little bit of shipping.
John Lee Dumas: Mike, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, brother, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
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