Have you seen an expert lately?
Expertise is a relative term. Do you remember the “good old days” when most people looked to the Surgeon General for expertise on health? Or to the Council of Economic Advisors for expertise on the economy? Those experts are still around, but they are being drowned out by self-appointed experts from the masses. (Did you know that if you Google “experts on the economy”, you’ll get 47,800,000 results?) True experts are now just one voice in a cacophony of voices sharing, even shouting, their perspective. Perspective has become truth. Judgment has become fact. True expertise has become diluted because virtually anyone can be called an expert on some topic.
Expertise used to be based on proven findings, repeated over time, by independent sources. Maybe they weren’t always truly “independent”, but as long as the sources strived for independence, that striving helped to protect true expertise. Now it seems expertise is based on how visible someone is and whether you agree with their viewpoint.
In their new book, Nurture Shock, the authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman point out that when scientific findings get treated as sound bites in our 24-7 news cycle, they lose impact. We’re bombarded with new findings or new studies every week, so do we simply choose which ones we want to believe? When every study is treated as equally newsworthy, there is no easy way to sift through the proven scientific findings and the noise.
As marketers, we need to recognize this impact on our brands and the categories in which we compete. We can’t afford to be silent, but we should also be asking ourselves how we are participating in this dialogue and whether we’re adding value to consumers’ lives by telling them something worth knowing…or are we simply adding to the noise?