What is the Authority Principle?
The Authority Principle underlines our tendency to obey authority. From a very young age, we are “trained” to obey: our parents, teachers, adults, policemen, etc. As we grow up we already have an intrinsic classing system that shows us who we are expected to obey, people that we consider to be “superior” to us in authoritative terms, but also who we expect to obey us, those that we consider to be “inferior”. This obedience isn’t necessarily coercive (that’s to say reliant on the use of force) but is rather more often simply based on this ingrained reaction to authority figures; there is an unspoken agreement about the balance of control in our societies that is most often adhered to.
There are many elements that can give the impression of authority: expertise, experience, popularity, a uniform (doctor’s coat, police uniform…), a title (Dr., Professor, Director…), physical attributes, success, wealth, an authoritative attitude, etc.
In the world of content marketing, the identity of the marketer is a key part of their content. Expert bloggers on subjects like SEO and paid advertising are able to attract more views for their posts and demand higher rates for their services. In a number of cases, these experts use explicit authority signifiers, such as academic prefixes or branding.
In the world of B2C marketing, authority is an essential quality for cultivating trust. Endorsements from celebrities or subject experts can enhance a product’s appeal, whilst negative reviews from a high-profile or highly-qualified figure can be damaging.
The Authority Principle enhances marketing claims and positively influences how visitors perceive a specific product. Adding testimonies and comments from celebrities or experts is a good way to improve conversion rates.