"Authority" is an interesting principle of persuasion that can really boost response rates for your marketing, advertising and sales campaigns.
The research shows that people will follow authority. They will follow the lead of experts -- at least people who they perceive are experts. Business titles, impressive clothing ... even an expensive high-performance car -- are all proven factors in lending credibility to an individual.
In fact, merely giving the appearance of authority will increase the likelihood that others will comply with a request -- even if the authority is illegitimate.
Here is the research that was done. And, I've seen follow up sessions just like this on TV ...
In an experiment, ordinary people were asked to administer electric shocks to people taking a test if they answered questions incorrectly. Those in charge were dressed in white lab coats like a doctor to give the appearance of high authority.
The participants were told that the electric shocks would increase by 15 volts of intensity each time the person taking the test answered incorrectly. In fact, the shocks were "imaginary" and the people taking the tests were actors and informed of the experiment.
As the unsuspecting participants administered the electric shocks, the actors feigned increasing discomfort until they were screaming in pain and begging for the experiment to stop.
Astoundingly, about 2/3rds of the participants kept administering the electric shocks at the urging of the white-jacked lab directors and inflicted the full 450 volts of imaginary electricity to the victims.
The findings: Participants were unable to resist the requests of the authority figure -- the white-jacketed lab coat researchers.
So, what does this mean for your marketing programs?
Well, given the incredible influence of authority figures -- it is wise to use testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities. When they make the request for you, people find it hard to resist.
Do this and watch your success grow.
P.S. Tomorrow, we'll look at "Scarcity" and how it can affect your marketing, advertising and sales messages.