Let’s face it, we are living in a cultural crisis of credibility. Too often it erodes government, religion, and our business communities.
As business leaders, most of us really do want to contribute to improving the world while also providing for ourselves and our families. On both counts, success depends on people trusting us.
Each year over 250,000 new products are launched, according to Brenton Hayden writing in Entrepreneur, but 95 percent of them fail. Hayden cites research showing that in today’s U.S. marketplace, buyers are more apt to make purchasing decisions based on brand trust and credibility than on product quality.
If customers don’t perceive you as credible, you’re not going to last. Pure and simple. Turns out our great-grandparents were right all along: an excellent reputation is priceless.
Are you giving the world reasonable grounds to believe you, to trust you? That’s credibility. It makes visible the integrity inside you.
“One of the most overlooked ways of being genuine lies in writing and speaking style. Simple is nearly always better than a bunch of the business jargon that too often tries to pass as an expert talking. The way to win trust is to communicate clearly how what you offer will benefit the customer.”
Credibility is a lifestyle. Every part of how you interact with others, both personally and corporately, will reflect it, or not. These six guidelines are not exhaustive, but they capture the essence of giving people grounds to trust you.
How to build solid brand credibility
Do what you say you will do
Keep your commitments, to yourself, your employees, and your customers. Know the value of what you offer and follow John Maxwell’s counsel that “a highly credible leader under promises and over delivers.” Who knows, in this way you might even delight your customers with better service than they’ve grown accustomed to.
We all know what that means, don’t we?
Genuineness is a subset of honesty. Positive relationships, business or otherwise, require people being real. Posturing as someone we’re not actually undercuts confidence.
This presupposes that you have defined your values and mission for yourself. Embrace them. Statements on your website are fine, but it’s actually more important to communicate mission and values in everything you do and say.
You’ll also need to set some boundaries: What will you not do, based on who you are not?
“Consistency matters. Across your media, is your message the same and aligned to the values and mission you’ve determined for your business?”
One of the most overlooked ways of being genuine lies in writing and speaking style. Simple is nearly always better than a bunch of the business jargon that too often tries to pass as an expert talking. The way to win trust is to communicate clearly how what you offer will benefit the customer. And remember, position yourself not as their hero, but as someone who can help them on their own hero’s quest.
That being said, don’t make everything about making a sale. Listen actively to understand. Think before speaking. Respond appropriately and generously, with respect for the other person’s time and perspective.
Do your best to stay objective
When you don’t know something, say so, and either find out or refer your customer to someone who has the answer they need. Tell true stories to illustrate the value you offer, and back up what you claim with facts from credible sources. Inflating numbers or anything else is never a good idea. Involve your audience. Ask them for feedback, and actually listen to what they tell you.
Across your media, is your message the same and aligned to the values and mission you’ve determined for your business?
“Trust is built in very small moments,” says Brene Brown, author and research professor at University of Houston. Unfortunately, it’s undone the same way. We business leaders make choices every day that impact our credibility, whether we realize it in the moment or not.