The World According to Renee

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Authority Marketing: Using an Expert to Sell Your Product

Today I read this article which talks about failings in logic. In particular, take notice of the section call Appeal to Authority.

This is a technique used a lot in marketing. Think of a popular brand of toothbrushes- 9 out of 10 dentists recommend this brand, according to the ad. There’s also a spate of advertising to do with kids’ nutrition. Recent ads are showing mums who are also nutritionists selling products that everyday mums should put into their kids’ lunchboxes. (Those of you who watched The Gruen Transfer on August 31 know what I’m talking about).

Therein lies the question: how effective are these endorsements? Experts are a fantastic way to sell your product. If you’re looking to buy a product, for example, a book, you’ll probably read some reviews written by people who have read the book. The same applies to any product- you want to be assured that you aren’t wasting your time and money by purchasing the product. There are a bunch of websites allowing people to review every product imaginable, which helps you decide if it is the right product for you. Let’s say you’re buying a service. The service provider has a website with a heap of testimonials from satisfied customers. There is a chance that these have been made up but generally, the more information about the person, the more likely you are to believe it because they are more real to you.


The plumber was on time and everything was fixed perfectly.

The plumber was on time and everything was fixed perfectly.
-Pamela S, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

Perhaps the most well-known example is celebrity endorsements. This is when a celebrity advertises a product (for a fee, of course, but you’re supposed to forget about that part). Personal trainers from TV weight loss shows are a good example- they advertise everything from courses to weight loss products to herbal treatments for joint pain. For some reason, people trust celebrities (particularly if they are successful in their career, like a sportsperson) so the celeb promoting a product is going to engage the consumer more than a nobody. Sometimes, this works as an advantage for community safety; remember Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s ads for micro-sleeps while you’re driving?

So if you’re running a business, how can you cash in on this Appeal to Authority?

Use Testimonials: they are very effective. Contact past customers and ask for a few lines of their experience. Make sure you tell them that you’re planning to use this on your website/brochure/newsletter etc.

Connect with an Expert in a Complementary Area: If you’re a professional photographer, team up with a professional makeup artist so you’re both selling your services. The idea is that you’re selling both the photo and the experience of looking amazing. Similarly, if you’re a graphic designer, consider teaming up with a friendly copywriter to sell a package deal…

Last but not least: Solve the problem. The mums-who-are-nutritionists are solving the problem of what to put in your kids’ lunchbox. You want something healthy that they will eat. By using a nutritionist mum, she knows what kids want as well as what you want for them.


August 31, 2011 Posted by | Copywriting | , , , , | Leave a comment