Posted 10th July 2010.
In recent posts I’ve been musing over the concept of Authority Marketing. After my last post where I talked about the benefits of establishing authority, one reader rightly posed the question: “what’s the difference between authority and expertise?”
It’s a good question. We all feel intuitively that authority implies something more than expertise – but it’s sometimes difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is. Is authority just the upper echelons of expertise? Or is there something more to it?
Authority is Expertise + Influence
For me, the key is that while an expert is defined by what they know; an authority is defined by who listens to them.
In other words, you can be an expert by knowing a lot. But to be an authority, people have to listen to your expertise and act upon it.
An authority is the expert people turn to for guidance. When they speak, people listen.
So to become an authority, you must not only build your expertise, you must build your influence.
I’m very tempted to do a 2×2 matrix here with expertise on one axis and influence on the other. But I’ll refrain from consulting cliches on this occasion.
To be influential, you must communicate, and you must be persuasive.
And this is where many professionals fall down. They have a high degree of expertise, but they're unable to communicate it in a persuasive manner to their target clients.
Some don't communicate at all. They're either uncomfortable marketing – or they've fallen into that terrible psychological trap of believeing they're entitled to be respected and listened to because they're experts.
Others communicate badly – they stumble, or confuse and complicate.
Others communicate, but don't persuade. Their communication is informative – but it doesn't guide listeners to action.
Authorities simplify (without oversimplifying) the complex. They give clear recommendations and courses of action to take. They communicate frequently and effectively. And they're listened to.
What will it take for you to become an authority in your field?