In the first part of our online guide to mind control, we looked at the force of social proof: how we look to other people’s behaviour to help us decide what we will do. And how you can use this to influence your customers buying behaviour.
Now we’re going to look at the power of authority.
The rule of authority says that you are more willing to follow instructions if you have respect for the authority or expertise of the person giving you those instructions.
The infamous Milgram experiment demonstrates the terrifying force of authority.
In another experiment, researchers got a man to cross a street when the pedestrian traffic light was still red. How many people do you think would follow this man’s lead into the busy road?
Well, you’ll be surprised that the number depended on what the man was wearing. When he wore a business suit and tie, as opposed to casual wear, people were 3.5 times more likely to follow him. Why? Because we associate a business suit with authority.
So, when people are uncertain (what shall I buy? who shall I buy from?), they look outside themselves for information to guide their decisions.
Given its immense power then, how can you use authority to influence your online customers?
- Show people the credentials you have. If you have respected qualifications or experience, shout about it on your website. Don’t assume people will know you’re an expert just because you started a business.
- Look and act like an authority. If you want to take your website and online marketing seriously, build credibility and authority by providing valuable content that is respected in your business niche.
- Are you a member of your industry associations? Have you had to jump through hoops for a professional accreditation? Let visitors to your website know this. Include the logos (with permission) and mention it explicitly in your website text.
Can you think of other ways to use authority to influence your customers?
Next time in our online marketing guide to mind control, we’ll be looking at the idea of commitment and consistency.