Unlock the Secrets to Authority Marketing with Special Guest - Advantage Media CEO Adam Witty
You're listening to Stimulus Tech Talk a conversation based podcast created by Stimulus Technologies that covers a range of topics related to business and technology. Hello! Welcome to Stimulus Tech Talk. I'm Nathan Whitaker CEO of stimulus Technologies and this week I'm excited to have a guest with us today, Adam Witty, the founder and CEO of Forbes Books. Welcome Adam. Nathan, my pleasure to be with you. So Adam is the founder and chief executive officer
of Advantage Media Group, one of the largest business book publishers in America. The company provides done-for-you media and publishing services and through its imprints, Advantage Books and Forbes Media has helped over 2000 CEOs, and myself included, being published by Advantage Media here later this year. Business Leaders set themselves apart as the authority in their field. Results driven media services for thought leaders cover public relations, website design, content marketing, and podcasting. Advantage is the exclusive book publishing partner of Forbes Media offering unparalleled brand by association and brand access to the Forbes audience. So welcome Adam. Nathan, we're going to have some fun together and of course congratulations to you on
your forthcoming book which will be out later this year. I'm very excited about the book and it's been a it's been a journey something wanted to do for many years and very excited, last week or two weeks ago, I saw it up on Amazon and it was almost brought tears to my eyes to see it up there. So yeah, it's very exciting. So, before we get started I know this is off topic but, it wasn't in your bio, but I understand you're also a commercial pilot. I just wanted to ask you about that briefly. It was in your in the bio of your book so I caught that. Yes I think I think we have a a shared love of aviation. That's right I am a commercial pilot. I have my commercial instrument
and seaplane ratings and I fly for business and for fun. And you know everybody needs a hobby. I was not very good at golf. I decided to give it up about six years ago and I started flying and I found that I really loved it. I always wanted to learn another language when I was young and I kind of regret as an adult that I didn't pursue learning a second language. And when I learned to fly, I realized that it was the equivalent of learning a new language. And if you've ever
heard pilots talk to air traffic control it indeed is another language. But, man just the learning and growing has been really, really fun and really exhilarating for me personally and professionally. I was the same way. I've been flying for about 15 years now. I got into it because it was always a dream to do and pretty amazing opportunity to to learn. As a pilot you're always learning and I I think that's one of the things that I love about it too so...well next time we're in the same city we ought to go flying together. I would love that. It'd be fun. Well tell me a little bit
about yourself other than being a pilot. How did you get into publishing and maybe talk a little bit about the company. Yeah, so nobody nobody grows up as a kid wanting to be a publisher. That is one thing I am very certain of and the same is true for me. When I was a little boy. I wanted to play professional basketball. As I got older and realized that I probably wasn't good enough to play professionally, I wanted to run a professional basketball team. And it was when I was in high school I had a summer where my parents said to me son you need to get a job. And they
then rephrased it and said, "Son, you must get a job." And, it just so happened that the family that lived next door to us, when I was a kid growing up, he was an executive at a publishing company in Central Florida. I'm from Orlando originally and he offered me a paid internship. I spent a summer there. I worked in the marketing department, but I also spent time in editorial, in design, in the warehouse, in the marketing and the sales, and all the functions of how books are created and marketed and sold and even delivered. And what I thought I would hate, what
I thought I would not find interesting at all, I I really liked and and thought was pretty neat. So the next summer my old boss calls me and says, "Hey, would you like to come back and great news I can pay a lot more than I did the first time around." And I decided I would do it for a second year. And at that time I worked, not in the marketing department, but in the sales department
and the head of sales took me under his wing, really kind of mentored me and I had a great experience. I went back to college, I got my degree in marketing with a minor in entrepreneurship and I knew that I wanted to to work for myself. I knew I wanted to try, at least, to start a business of my own and so I did that when I was in college. I started a business out of my dorm room in college and and even though that business wasn't a big success, it's certainly not the business I run today, I learned a lot about myself through the process of trying to start and and run a business when I was in college. I'm back at home in Orlando recently after I had graduated,
and a mentor of mine, his name is Pat Williams he's the founder of the Orlando Magic basketball team, remember I wanted to run an NBA basketball team, which is how I came to know Pat Williams. He and I were having lunch and we were having a bit of a career conversation, and he looks at me and he says, "Adam you should start a publishing company for business owners. Every CEO, every entrepreneur, every business leader needs to be the author of a book. Because, when they are the experts they are the choice, they are the person, they're the company that everybody wants to work with and when you write the book on the topic, people see you as the expert. People see you as the authority on the topic." And Nathan, not having a better idea of what I was going to do with my life, I said, "Okay, I'll start a publishing company." That was in 2005. The rest, as they say I suppose,
is history. Now, a lot's happened since 2005. One is, we morphed from being a publishing company to really a media services company, where we help CEOs and leaders like you, build thought leadership through authoring a book and through building content and media online. Of course, we built a business with Forbes, starting in 2016, and and today Advantage Media and Forbes Books were one of the largest independent publishers in the country. And that's the story, and each and every day I get to work with Incredible team members, we've got about 75 team members in our company, and incredible authors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, pioneers, leaders in 20 countries across the globe, experts in technology and I.T., folks like you, hospitality, manufacturing, robotics, you name It. We have a really cool base of authors that
truly are pioneers in their field. Yeah, that was one of the interesting things that I've discovered going through the process. Some of my favorite business authors are either Forbes or Advantage Media authors. One of them is Jack Daly. I I I've heard him speak a few times and then realized that he, is an Advantage uh author. So, it's really interesting for me, you know, I thought I'd have to go out you know generate a manuscript, you know, sell it, try to sell it to publishers, and I I love your process. You know, having an idea and a team to to get it
down on paper, it's a very different thing than I thought the process would be writing a book. It's really hard. Writing a book is really hard as you know. I I just came out with a new book. It's really hard and when something is really hard, when there's a lot of friction,
entrepreneurs find opportunity to make that process easier. And, I don't think I really knew what I was doing in 2005 because I was only but, you know, 22 - 23 years old. But, really at the end of the day, we were eliminating friction, we were solving a pain point for most business leaders, which was creating and getting a book done was really, really hard. And so our business is all has always been about making that process much, much easier. So, I'd
imagine you know there's a new process that's come out, which is you know the self-publishing, and kind of what differentiates Advantage and Forbes over the self-publishing process that I'm sure a lot of authors take advantage of? I guess that's that easy channel now. Yeah. You're absolutely right. Self-publishing has become ubiquitous. It's available to the multitudes at really attractive price points. Right? It can be very inexpensive to create your own book. I think where Advantage Media and where Forbes Books really differentiate themselves, it's in a couple of areas. One is most leaders that we talk to they have an idea for a book, but there's not a manuscript, there's not a book that's been written and taking an idea and turning it into 40 or 45 000 words, that's pretty difficult and that's pretty hard. And that's something that we specialize in. We help the entrepreneur take an idea, we really then boil that down into a blueprint,
what we call a master book plan, and then skilled ghost writers work with that author to turn that master book plan into an actual manuscript, which is then something that's ready for publishing. Eighty-two percent of the authors that we support, they come to us with an idea, not with a book. So, that's kind of one big area where I think we add a lot of value where with self-publishing, by definition, it would be up to you to get that book created first, on your own to create the manuscript. The second thing is we believe that authority is the goal. When you have authority, when people see you as a thought leader, it gives you incredible power in the marketplace it gives you pricing power. It gives you demand power and it makes you the logical place that people
look for answers to their burning problems and challenges. And so in our business it's never been about just creating a book for someone. It's been about creating an authority plan and then determining what are the elements that help create that authority for that leader. And that would be another thing that that differentiates us, I believe greatly, is the the media services that we can layer on top of a book. That can that can really increase the success for the author. Yeah. I'm sure that makes a big difference I I was surprised by the statistic that there's what 500 000 to a million books published every year in the US, plus the self-published books on top of that. So, I'm sure it takes a lot to stand out among all those authors as the authority,
since there's just so much content out there now. It is really hard and it is really competitive. There's so many books, there's so much content. Something that you and I are going to talk about, probably in a minute, generative AI is going to create boatloads more content at an alarming rate. And so yeah, how do you stand out? How do you put yourself in
a category of one where people care what you have to say and actually will pay attention? It's not an easy thing now. Before we get into AI, so talk a little bit about the difference between traditional marketing, you know there's tons of people out there doing podcasts or YouTube channels or social media or AdWords or, you know, there's lots of different avenues. Give us an idea of what what authority marketing is versus your traditional traditional marketing. Yeah, so I'm
gonna provide a a shameless plug for my new book and the reason I will do that the subtitle is, Building Thought Leadership Based on Impact Not Ego. And here would be the point I would share. The goal of the book is to teach leaders how to become a thought leader with something to teach rather than an operator with something to sell. When you're trying to sell someone something their defenses immediately go up.
Right? They're skeptical, they're not trusting and they're certain that if you're trying to separate me from my money, there might be a hidden reason behind that outside of my best interest. When I am a teacher providing value by giving advice, by sharing insights, telling stories, helping you become more educated, competent, and knowledgeable about a certain topic, the trust is really, really high. There are no barriers. I'm just trying to teach you something, I'm not trying to sell you something. The big idea behind authority media and authority marketing is
that when you become a thought leader your mission changes from selling to teaching. And when you teach, and people listen and learn and are exposed to you, they trust it much, much faster speed. And really in the marketplace when somebody buys something from another, there's got to be a high level of trust in order for that transaction to take place. To answer your question, well what is authority marketing and how is it different from all these other things? Well, it could be LinkedIn advertising, it could be Google AdWords, it could be running a TV or radio commercial. That would all be advertising and advertising the goal is to get somebody to buy something. So, when you advertise you're an operator trying to sell something. Authority marketing is about sharing what you know. It could be writing and publishing a book
and then trying to get that book in the hands of other people. It could be authoring a podcast, which is what you do and what we're doing right now, It could be speaking, it could be writing a white paper or an article and publishing that on your blog or somewhere online through a place like Medium or Substack. Well, when you invest the time and the energy into those forms of marketing, we call it authority marketing. It's really about teaching versus selling. And when you teach the trust levels go through the roof. That's really, Nathan, at the end of the day why we think
authority marketing isn't a nice-to-have, we think it's a must-have for any CEO and for any business in the 21st century. Yeah, I think that word "trust" seems really, you know strikes me is you know -- the book I read recently the, Speed Of Trust, by Stephen R. Covey, you know, it talks about that. It' gets past those barriers so much faster if you if you can build that trust and rapport. It's hard. People have their defenses up all the time because they're barraged and feel taken advantage of often in the marketplace.
If a CEO wants to get into authority marketing and a book seems overwhelming, I mean how do they -- but they might have an idea, how does that work? I mean it's writing 50 60 000 pages, it took me about 12 to 14 months to write that, it was a lot of a lot of work and could seem overwhelming. So, how does a CEO get started with it? A lot of the times I recommend people not start with a book because it is such a big and daunting task. Really, where it starts is answering this question, "What's keeping your target customer awake at night?" What are the problems that you and or your business can solve and how can you teach your target customer how to solve those problems? And then of course, they logically realize, well if I don't want to solve it on my own, let me call Adam, or or let me call Nathan, because they both have companies that could probably solve this problem for me.
So that is the first place I always recommend to start is ask yourself the question, "What's keeping my best customer awake at night?" Second, rather than writing a book, I would instead say, maybe it's just time to start writing content or creating content. Now, you want to have a strategy in place and know what the end goal is and what you're creating that content for. We recommend something we call it a Master Content Plan, but the point is to have a master plan of who's the audience, what's the content that they care about and would like to know answers to, and then what content, in what size and what form, am I going to write? When and where am I going to publish it? Now, there's a lot of things I just said there, so it probably isn't as easy as you had hoped, but authority marketing is all about being intentional. It's not about just randomly doing things and hoping that there's a positive result that comes from the randomness. So, beginning with the end in mind, building a plan, even if it's just for content creation, forget about a book. That's the most important thing. It seems like it takes consistency too, you know you just can't
write one blog article, or you know, one podcast and it's done. You have to be consistently adding to get you know presence in the marketplace. Would you agree with that? Authority is what I call a virtuous circle and that is the more of it you do, the more effective it all becomes and consistency and repetitiveness, not doing the same thing every time, but just repeating the process of creating and publishing content, it's super important. So, going back to something
you said a minute ago about what keeps you up at night, I'm sure that AI probably keeps you up at night a little bit. So kind of talk to me about how AI, it might be disrupting the publishing and writing field. You know, whether it's blogs or books, I'm sure it's affecting what you guys are doing. Yeah. Generative Artificial Intelligence is going to change a lot of things and a lot of businesses and a lot of industries and a lot of just the way that we currently lead our lives. To me, I think the changes will be significant and in some cases profound.
Now, I think also I would say right now there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of wonderment about how significant AI will be and a lot of that is still unknown. Right? So it is possible that some of its hype that never materializes, but on the other hand I think we definitively know that there is a big impact that AI will have in a lot of different forms of how we as humans you know kind of conduct life, both personally and professionally. In our business we see AI as a tool that can be used to make our content far better. We don't see AI fully replacing humans in the creation of content and, in fact, I would almost sound the alarm and say I think it becomes a real problem if machines are creating all of the content that we consume. You know artistry, and and we believe our authors are artists, artistry is about creativity. It's about ingenuity, it's about emotion, it's about feeling and all of that wraps together to create words that move people. Now you know, Nathan,
you and I are both non-fiction writers so it's unlikely that the words that we put on paper may lead someone to cry, but the words that we put on paper through our own creative and artistic form, it's unique. Every single person on this Earth has a unique thumbprint. No two people have the same thumbprint and I believe that no two authors have the exact same voice when authorship comes from a person. So we believe that the very highest quality content will still come from people, using AI as a tool to make it easier, faster, and more productive for those people to create content. So, in which ways are you seeing, or have you seen, authors, if you've seen it to this point, use AI successfully, where's the balance there? Well, the first place is, that if if an author is going to use AI as a tool for creating or assembling content, the first thing is that we believe it needs to come from what I'll call a "closed data set" and that closed data set is only the author's IP. With ChatGPT, as an example, which is a
Large Language Model, that really has scoured the entire internet, which is this public database of content, if I say hey I'm going to use ChatGBT to write a new book on investing for retirement. Well, if I use ChatGPT with an open data set, I am taking other people's content, a machine is reorganizing it and then I'm going to put my name on it and claim it as my own. Well, first of all, it's copyright infringement, but secondly it's unethical, I would say immoral, in my opinion. And if if you look at what is the backbone of free societies,
it's respect for intellectual property rights. And so the area that we have to be really careful with AI, is that we don't start trampling over others intellectual property rights because we're motivated by our job becoming a lot easier by simply taking other people's content and letting the machine rewrite it. I don't care what you say that's still plagiarism. So I'm an advocate of closed data sets and I'll give you an example. So many authors that we work with, they will say, "Hey I don't have a book written but I've been writing a Blog for the last five years and I've given five different keynote speeches and I do a podcast and I have a hundred episodes of my podcast and you know I've written a couple of white papers." Okay, so today we can take all of that content we can feed it in to a closed end LLM and then use only that author's content with the right prompts to create new content, which could help create a book.
The difference is it's all of that author's original content. It's not going to the World Wide Web and taking other people's content and regenerating it into something new. Well, that's interesting. Just to get an acronym, LLM is language learning...
Yeah, I think I said Large Language Model but I may be incorrect In LLM. So that's interesting. I never thought of it that way, of using the author's content in an AI model to build, you know, that new structure and, so you mentioned, just going back the copyright side of things, so are you, have there been any rulings or any decisions or is it just is it up to the court still to decide what what's going to happen with the copyright side of AI, ChatGPT and all these other of these other systems? My understanding is we are still in the early days it is the Wild Wild West and you know courts and governments have not yet figured out how they're going to monitor, regulate, create laws that govern proper behavior with AI. So I
don't believe any of that's been addressed yet. Is there, for somebody that's a novice to this, is there a way to distinguish between AI generated content and human generated content? I mean is there if you're reading something whether it's a Blog article or a news article or even a book. Yeah. Yeah, is there a good way to have an idea what's going on? It's funny, I I was on the phone with one of my colleagues today and they said AI Cheat Check. It's an app and I believe you can put a document, or put content, into AI Cheat Check and it will tell you what percentage of the content has been generated through a machine. These of course are the early days of even something like that, but it is something that we are using in our business to determine when other people submit content to us and claim it as their own. You know we have to verify, as the publisher, that it is indeed their content because if we
knowingly allow an author to publish something that plagiarizes another person's work, then we're as liable as the author is. Interesting. And does the same thing affect, you know, other than, you know, print publishing, does the same thing affect internet content and a lot of things you're reading out there? I'm sure there's you know copyright protections of of that material also. Yeah it does, it would protect all of those things that are copyrightable, both online and offline. Yeah it's going to be interesting over the next couple of years because I mean there is so easy I you know, it's fun to play around with. I did a webinar on AI a couple of weeks ago and and I pulled up chat GPT and had it write some things. Just jokingly, I'm getting married soon,
and and I thought, oh I'll throw in ask ChatGPT to write some wedding vows, and it was, and I put it in the doc this, you know, have it write it like Dr Seuss would, and it was it was very creative, but it certainly is more for entertainment value I think at this point, because it could be wrong too and you got to be careful about that. That there's times it's pulling in different materials and it could just be flat out wrong of what it's generating. Yeah absolutely. So, well I guess you know it's the beginning. I'm sure we'll have you on again to talk about it as
maybe some court cases come out but certainly, certainly an interesting interesting topic on the AI's thing. So, Adam did shamelessly plug his book. I actually have a copy here too, so I've been, I've been reading it. It's been a great process to work with Advantage Media as I've written my book and I highly recommend them. It's a great great opportunity if, you know, if you're a CEO or or just somebody that wants to educate people, Advantage is a great, great method of getting that content created and out there and it's been a great team to work with. So thank you Adam for coming in today and and meeting with us and very good discussion. Nathan, great news! I
have an offer for everybody on the podcast and that is they can receive a free digital copy, or audio copy, of the new book. And all they have to do is visit the authorityadvantagebook.com, and the book that you just held up, and the book that I'm holding up, any of your listeners can get a complimentary digital or audio copy if they go to that website. Excellent we'll make sure we include that link along with the podcast. So again Adam,
thanks for your time and have a great rest of your day. Thank you Nathan [Music] thank you.