Authority Bias

This post is sponsored by Content at Scale

Imagine this…

You ran out of toothpaste this morning.

On your way back from your daily coffee shop run, you stop at the store to grab a new tube.

As a creature of habit, you turn the corner into the aisle and reach for the spot where your usual brand of toothpaste is only to realize… it isn’t there.

They’re out. Shoot.

Being a bit of a health nut, you don’t just want to choose any brand of toothpaste. You’re very conscious about what you put in your body.

Luckily, you see another brand that one of your favorite health podcasters recommended a few episodes back.

It’s either that brand or one you aren’t familiar with.

Which toothpaste do you buy?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at Authority Bias – why we trust information more when it comes from influential figures.

Let’s get into it…

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The Psychology of Authority Bias 🧠

Making decisions is hard.

If we spent time to carefully analyze the pros and cons of every decision we made, we’d never get anything done.

That’s why our minds prefer to outsource the work.

When faced with a decision, we’ll often look to authority figures to tell us what to do. Behavioural scientists call this “authority bias.”

And, as proven in a famous 1963 Yale Study, authority figures can be ⚡️shockingly⚡️ persuasive.

In the study, participants were greeted by researchers wearing white lab coats—a trusted uniform worn by scientists.

Participants were divided into two groups: “teachers” and “learners.”

The teachers were instructed to ask the learners questions. Each time a learner got the answer wrong, the teacher was told to click a button that would give them an electric shock.

For every wrong answer, the teachers were told to increase the level of volts.

What the teachers didn’t know is that the learners were in on the experiment and faking their reactions.

The learners were instructed to scream in pain and beg the teachers to stop shocking them.

Despite showing signs of emotional distress, 65% of the teachers kept increasing the voltage just because the researchers told them to keep going.

They outsourced how right or wrong their actions were to the authority in the room.

The authority told them to keep going. So they did.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind 🧐

Your buyers place weight on the opinions of authority figures.

Big tobacco companies realized their customers would happily outsource the decision of choosing which cigarette brand to smoke.

The problem was they wouldn’t outsource the decision to the tobacco brands.

But, they would outsource it to a trusted authority figure: doctors.

Cigarette brands used their ad space to show how many doctors believed their cigarettes were the best on the market.

This type of advertising is still used today.

How often have you heard Colgate say they’re recommended by 9 out of 10 dentists?

Buyers are still outsourcing their decision-making to authorities.

The only thing that’s changed is who those authorities are.

The authority figures who influence your buyers aren’t just accredited experts—they’re popular YouTubers, TikTok stars, and newsletter creators (like me).

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Make an authority figure the face of your brand

What’s the fastest way to build authority?

By using somebody else’s.

Big brands, like Nespresso, have been doing this for years. They’ve used celebrity likeness to align their products with trusted public figures.

SnackMagic - Temptation Bundling - Customer Camp - Why We Buy

If you don’t have the budget to bring on an A-list face, grab some inspiration from the Dos Equis team.

Remember those iconic “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials?

SnackMagic - Temptation Bundling - Customer Camp - Why We Buy

This campaign increased sales by 22% in its first year by captivating buyers with this character’s intriguing persona.

Authority can come from real or fictional personas.

Create high-ranking content that positions your brand as an authority on the topics that matter to buyers*

We trust the first few search results on Google more than we trust anything on Page 2 (if we even dare go there).

Piggyback on the trust your buyers have with Google by ranking first for search terms.

Buyers will automatically trust you more because of your high ranking…even if they’ve never heard of your brand before.

The tricky part of high search rankings is producing enough in-depth content that gets Google’s attention.

That’s where Content at Scale comes in.

Using AI, you can create in-depth high-ranking content that piggybacks on Google’s authority.

You’ll get high-quality articles showcasing your expertise in seconds.

Content at Scale’s users have increased their domain rating from 6 to 20 in just one month – all without a massive content team or budget. 🤯

SnackMagic - Temptation Bundling - Customer Camp - Why We Buy

Create high-quality SEO-focused content that drives search rankings (and your authority!).

Request your invite to Content at Scale here.

* This brainy tip is brought to you by Content At Scale

Partner with people your buyers already trust

There are people your buyers trust with recommendations related to your products.

Use SparkToro to figure out who these authority figures are. Here’s audience research based on the search “vegan diet”:

SnackMagic - Temptation Bundling - Customer Camp - Why We Buy

Find the media publications and influencers they rely on for their information, then:

  • Add them to your influencer marketing strategy
  • Reshare their content and explain why you align with their message
  • Get inspiration from their content approach to use in your organic and paid content

Partnerships with trusted authority figures allow you to borrow some of that authority for your brand and reach a new audience.

The Short of It 💥

Making decisions is exhausting.

Our minds are looking for a way out of this mental exercise.

Find the authorities your buyers outsource their decisions to and tap into their credentials to make your brand an easy yes.

Until next time, happy selling!



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

There are a few ways I can help:

  1. Get explosive clarity about what works with buyers by learning how to conduct 1:1 Clarity Calls (3200+ happy students)
  2. Learn how to mine online reviews from real buyers to generate ideas and copy that converts (500+ happy students)
  3. Book a 1:1 strategy call with Katelyn and get the answers you need to get unstuck and move forward with confidence
  4. Apply to sponsor an upcoming issue of Why We Buy (next opening in June)

Thank you to our featured sponsor

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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