Credible Companies Sell More

Have you ever received a call from a company you've never heard of wanting to tell you about a product you've never heard of? How do you react? Without an immediate and compelling need, I barely listen and almost never make an appointment.

The problem isn't that the product isn't any good or that I don't have a need for the product. The problem is that the company hasn't established credibility with me.

"Did you see our ad?" salespeople sometimes ask.

Even if I'd seen it, how does that raise their credibility. So they have enough money to buy an ad. Most companies have enough money to buy an ad, even if it's a small ad.

In the words of Al Ries,

"Advertising has no credibility with consumers, who are increasingly skeptical of its claims and whenever possible are inclined to reject its message."

Advertising has its place, mind you. Advertising is great at reminding people of things they already believe. It's great ad reminding people why they should use brands they already trust.

I keep coming back to words like credibility and trust. Those are the things you need to win the brand war, establish your position in the market place, and attract customers.

Let me give you the bad news and the good news on this credibility thing:

The bad news is, you can't buy credibility. The good news is, you don't have to buy credibility.

Credibility comes only through third-party endorsement:

  • When a magazine mentions your product or company favorably in an article, that's third party endorsement.
  • When a satisfied customer recommends you to a friend, that's third party endorsement.
  • When Oprah adds you to her things to have and books to read list, that's third party endorsement that rings the cash register.

You can't get these things through advertising. You can get them by crafting your story and getting it to the press, by creating excitement at an event or in the community that gets the attention of the press, or by sharing your story in a way that makes others want to pass it on.

Take you time. You can't force PR to speed up. You need to wait on it and stick to it, because when it's run it's course, you will have established a brand to last a life time.

If you doubt the power of a good PR message, ask Microsoft how well it's worked for them.