Home Professionalisms From P.T. Barnum To Social Media, 3 Lessons About Promoting Your Personal...

From P.T. Barnum To Social Media, 3 Lessons About Promoting Your Personal Brand


by Adam Witty, Founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks and author of “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant

The battle to create brand recognition is taking place in a media world that’s noisier and more crowded than ever.

That’s why some entrepreneurs, CEOs and professionals have come to realize that they can set themselves apart by looking beyond the corporate brand and instead building their personal brand, positioning themselves as an expert and leader in their industry and marketplace.

It’s a path that such luminaries as Rachael Ray and Dave Ramsey used to much success. Although what’s called ‘authority marketing’ isn’t used as much as it should be, it’s not new. More than a century ago, P.T. Barnum understood how to generate buzz around his name and get the press to report on his every move, which led to more ticket sales for his circus.

Conventional wisdom holds that “authority” is something that can’t be manufactured; it’s bestowed upon you by your peers. That’s utter nonsense because why would your peers want to crown you king? That would mean they’re not the king.

A few ways a person can begin to position themselves as the authority in their field include:

1. The traditional media route.

Anyone who wants to emulate Barnum’s technique, if not match his extraordinary gift for self-promotion, can do so by using mass media – which today includes TV and radio as well as newspapers and magazines.

You can pitch ideas directly to the media. You can pitch an article idea on a certain topic, or you can pitch yourself as a guest or source who can offer insight on specific topics.

2. The social media route.

In the modern era, people who want to promote themselves possess a tool that Barnum and his contemporaries didn’t have. In addition to attracting the attention of traditional media, they can also grow their authority through social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms give people the opportunity to communicate directly with their target audiences without the traditional media as a go-between.

In this new landscape, the power is truly in your hands, and it’s up to you to establish yourself as an authority to make sure your message is heard.

3. The book route.

People instantly gain a significant amount of respect when they can tell others they are the author of a book. The perception is that if you have enough knowledge to write a book on a topic, you must know more than most people do about it. Many people find the idea of writing a book intimidating, but it’s not unusual to hire ghostwriters to help with the task. And if traditional publishers show no interest, self-publishing is an option. Once completed, the book becomes additional piece of your marketing arsenal as you are routinely introduced as “the author of. . .”

But for anyone eager to put authority marketing into practice, there’s a caveat.

This should not be an exercise in ego. This is about strategically elevating your authority to grow your business.


Adam Witty is the Founder and CEO of Advantage | ForbesBooks, the authority marketing specialists. Working with business entrepreneurs and professionals to elevate their brands and grow their businesses through publishing, he has built the company into one of the largest business book publishers in America, serving over 1,000 members in 40 U.S. states and 13 countries. Adam is also a sought-after speaker, teacher, and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors.