What Does it Mean to be an “Authority”?


I approached one of my affiliates the other day and asked them how their campaigns were doing. He wasn’t too thrilled with their performance, and surprisingly told me that he was considering jumping ship and running with a different network. Rather than be concerned (and put on the defensive), I asked him why his campaigns weren’t performing well. Other affiliates were experiencing conversion rates in excess of 40% with identical campaigns, so what was he doing different.

His response surprised me: “I don’t know,” he said, “you’re the authority here. You tell me.”

I wonder what it means to be considered an “authority”. I’m no different than him in the sense that I am nothing more than an affiliate who talks to other affiliates on a daily basis about what programs are converting and how to increase click-through-ratios. I’m certainly not a “guru” in my field, and by no means would I say that I’m an “authority”, yet to these particular individual I was the authority about that specific situation. Interesting…

I think that many people simply see someone as an authority if they happen to know a little bit about a specific industry or topic. Some people are self-branded authorities, while others work their entire careers selflessly and relentlessly seeking to provide quality, correct information about something. Those people are true authorities, not the people that brand themselves an authority to take advantage of someone else’s ignorance.

So, I guess the point of this is to remember that you’re going to be considered an authority by those who know less than you about your industry. As an ethical business-person it is your responsibility not to take advantage of that.

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3 thoughts on “What Does it Mean to be an “Authority”?

  1. I heard somewhere that if you keep on telling people that you’re an authority eventually people will start to believe it. I guess if you’re not an authority, you fake it till you make it.

  2. Faking it will only last a certain amount of time. Sooner or later, someone will find out the truth and your credibility will be shot. Working hard and always being one step ahead than your competition is the only way to become a true authority.

  3. i associate expertise with innovation. as in, how much of this person’s expertise is a combination of knowledge and a unique contribution to the field? also, how reliable of a source are they? (i.e. credibility)
    i associate authority with the ability to coerce someone into action based on their expertise.

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