Voice of Authority

“Freeze! This is the police! You’re under arrest! On your knees! Put your hands on top of your head!”

We know the scene too well. Some police officer has finally cornered a suspect after a 10-block chase through the city. It’s a staple of every cop show on TV.

Marketing that is designed to interrupt our lives follows the same model.


Best interest rate available!


We see these phrases every day. They’re commands for us to stop what we are doing — Freeze! — who is calling your attention — This is the police! — and take some action — On your knees! Put your hands on top of your head! Yes, these commands are authoritative (or try to be). But they are not the Voice of Authority.

Why not?

Conditioning compels us to obey the police officer as much as it does to ignore the interruption marketing. It is one of the great battles that all marketing professionals fight every day.

Voice of authority

Think of someone whose opinion you always valued. What made her opinion important and more valuable than others? Do you recognize any of the following in that voice?

Grounded. The voice was principled. You believed its intentions were good.

Nurturing. The voice cared. The voice was not trying to be heard for its own sake, but for yours.

Wise. The voice gave the issue or choice facing you context. The voice knows the value of a great question.

Supportive. The voice lays out the alternatives — maybe even the consequences — but encourages you to make your own decisions.

Why the Voice of Authority matters

We have access to more information than ever before. It’s easier than ever to become an educated buyer. We don’t want to be sold. We want someone who helps us buy.

The Voice of Authority speaks to us on our terms and helps us understand. We may not choose to follow the voice, but we store it away for a future time.

Who was a Voice of Authority for you?

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