How to Boost Your Company's Credibility

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Scenario A: Says the self-described business "expert" Johnny, who plugs his books any chance he gets: "You just gotta, hafta excite the customer! Tell the person you can serve them like you're a cracked-up Superman! Tell them they will suffer if they go to somebody else! You are the one and only solution! Yay! Buy my books! " Scenario B: Says the auto-mechanic dude on the corner lot, who actually manages a business: "Be truthful. If you have a flaw, admit it. Then tell them why that flaw works to your advantage. For example, when I was young, I would tell customers that though I was inexperienced, I was hungry to make my mark in the world."

BOO for the self-described "business experts" who prey on your hard-earned money!

How many times have you repeatedly bought from some dude (or dudette) with the typical rah-rah sales pitch? Now, compare that with how many times you've bought from somebody who genuinely, willingly, wanted to help you. (Think about those 100-year-old mom-and-pop shops.) Credibility, coincidentally, comes from be straight up to your potential customer. It's having integrity. It's admitting you don't know everything, but -- like a shooting star that you'll never reach -- you're always working to get there.

"So do I just admit that I seriously suck at providing my services?"

Not quite. We're definitely not encouraging you to run a 10 foot banner with just the the "We Suck" sign attached to your logo and business card. Most likely, you don't suck since there's always room for improvement; and, if you do suck and can't do anything about it, you're in the wrong line of business. Instead, describe how your bad stuff works to your advantage.

It says so in the nerdy study. (Ok, "nerdy cool.")

According to a research study by social psychologists, the best way to boost your credibility is to (1) admit a flaw, then (2) describe how that flaw helps you:
  1. In one study, Bohner and colleagues (2003) created three different versions of an advertisement for a restaurant. One message featured only positive product attributes of the restaurant (e.g., cozy atmosphere).
  2. A second message featured those positive attributes in addition to some negative product attributes that were unrelated to the positive attributes (e.g., the restaurant cannot offer dedicated parking to its clients).
  3. Finally, the third message featured the positive product attributes in addition to some negative product attributes that were related to the positive attributes (e.g., small restaurant, so there's little space).
Thus, participants who saw the third advertisement were able to make the connection between the negative aspects of the restaurant and the positive ones ("There's little space, but that's part of what makes the atmosphere cozy"). In short, although both types of two-sided message produced increases in the restaurant owner's perceived credibility, the evaluation of the restaurant itself was highest in the two-sided message in which the positive and negative attributes were related.
To get you started on the road to rock your business, the sample template for ya:

"Though we're behind Jimbo's Widgets-4-You in local market share, that excites us to provide a kick-ass service to you."

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Posted on August 17

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