How Do You Rate On The Credibility Test?

Why do certain businesses almost always attract and keep more customers than their competition? The single biggest factor can be stated in one word. Credibility.

The more credible you and your business are perceived to be, the easier it is for your customer to decide to do business with you. Some businesses with low credibility actually drive away customers instead of attracting them.

A Tale of Two Dentists

Imagine for a moment that you awake with severe tooth pain and can no longer put off that root canal. You decide to meet with two dentists and then choose which one you want to have handle your problem.

In the first office you wait for 4-5 minutes before the receptionist greets you. After you fill out some forms, you are escorted into an examination room and placed in a chair. There are pictures of motocross racers on the wall. A skateboard leans against the wall in a corner.

A man walks in wearing jeans and a tie-dyed t-shirt. He greets you warmly.

“Whoa! I hear you got some serious pain going on there. Bummer. I guess you hit a point where you had to stop doing shots of Tequila to numb yourself and come see me. Glad to meet you. You can call me Bill. Well don’t worry. I’ve drilled out a few thousand of these things and never had a problem yet! So, waddaya say you open-up and let me take a look at that thing?”

At the second office, the receptionist greets you immediately. After you fill out some forms, you are escorted into the examination room and placed in a chair. On the wall you see certificates awarded to the dentist. There are colorful, framed illustrations of teeth and their root structure on the wall.

A man walks in wearing dark slacks, a button-down shirt, and a tie, all covered by an embroidered white lab coat. He speaks to you with soft even tones.

“Hello. I’m Doctor Travers. I understand you’re having some discomfort right now. Don’t worry. I’ve been handling cases like yours for over two years now. And, in the majority of cases, they can usually be handled without complications. Here, let me take a look at your tooth.”

If you’re like most people, you are much more comfortable with Dr. Travers than with Bill. What’s amazing is that Dr. Travers has only been practicing for two years and states that he had no complications in a majority of cases. Bill on the other hand has performed “a few thousand” root canals and has never had a problem.

On paper, Bill is the much better choice. Emotionally, however, most people would choose Dr. Travers.

Why? Because Dr. Travers looks, sounds, and acts “like a professional dentist.” So, he has more credibility, even though Bill is more experienced and has a better track record!

Working for you or against you

Every time a customer has any contact with your business, they mentally give you plus points or minus points on their own internal credibility test.

If you and your business earn a majority of plus points, the customer will do business with you. If you earn a majority of minus points, they will not.

You are being evaluated constantly – sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. Small details count for more than you know. Everything about you and your business is part of this credibility test.

Here is a partial list of factors people use to evaluate your business:

– Does your business location say upscale or downscale?
– When people walk into your office, does it say successful and professional? Or does it say something else?
– What is the image conveyed by your signs?
– What is the image conveyed by your business card?
– How quickly does your phone get answered?
– Is the person who answers the phone pleasant and upbeat? Or are they grumpy and terse?
– How is the appearance of the staff? Do they look neat, clean, and professional?
– Does your website present a competent, professional image?
– How quickly do you respond to communications from customers or prospects?

Every time the public has any type of contact with you or your business, they are evaluating you. And their conclusions have more validity than anything you can say in your promotional efforts.

See for yourself

Here is a simple test you can do. But it requires that you are 100% honest and willing to assume the viewpoint of a brand new person.

Experience your business as if you were a new potential customer.

Leave your office or business location. When you return, imagine you are seeing everything with a fresh set of eyes. Be aware of the impressions you are getting as you arrive. Are those impressions positive, neutral, or negative?

Call your office. How quickly is the phone answered? What is the impression you get when the phone is answered?

Since many people like to “check you out” before they call, check yourself out by reviewing your website. Does it raise your credibility or make it drop? (These days, not having a website says you don’t really exist.)

Look at your image materials: your signs, business cards, brochures. Do these convey the right image. Do they build your credibility?

Once you do this, you will either be pleased with how well you’ve done or be demoralized by the realization that you have been repelling customers. If there are things you can improve, you will now have a list of what to work on.

If you would like a professional opinion, call Sentium. We will take you through a business evaluation checklist which will point out your strengths and recommend solutions for your weaknesses. Since you are a reader of Marketing Rocket Fuel, we’ll provide this evaluation for you free of charge.

Marketing success all comes down to having a high degree of credibility. Raise your perceived credibility and you’ll also raise the success potential of your business.

To your business success,


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Richard Wilson is the Founder/Chief Marketing Strategist for Sentium Strategic Communications which helps companies craft the right message for extraordinary results. Over the past 31 years, his clients have ranged from start-ups to major technology companies.
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