The Credibility Gap
We are a nation of skeptics. I a recent call with a client I was told that people from her homeland did things differently â€“ they trusted each other â€“ their word was better than a contract. Thatâ€™s great, but that isnâ€™t the way things are here. Consumers have been lied to for years.
In a study by the Yankelovich public opinion poll â€“ 93% of consumers indicated that they have no confidence in advertisements from major corporations.
In 1906 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed. It required producers of food and drugs to disclose what was in what their customers were buying. Up until this point producers had no accountability — Coca Cola had cocaine and excessive amounts of caffeine in it and cough syrups were up to 50% morphine and other opiates. Can you imagine shoveling morphine into your 18 month-old? If anyone found out, you would probably be sent to jail.
The case I am making is that Americans have a healthy distrust for producers and what they are selling â€“ and it is rightfully deserved.
Today the gap is widening. This is due, in my opinion, to the shear explosion in the amount of information available to consumers. Which data are true or false? It has become much harder to decipher this and it has made us skeptical.
If you can bridge the credibility gap, your chances for success increase greatly. In research done by Hall and Stamp â€“ producers that were able to back their productâ€™s benefit claims with data, logic, or straightforwardness had a 40% greater chance of success. Here are some suggestions on bridging the credibility gap.
Be committed to being honest
One of the best ways to portray your self as an honest company is to actually be an honest company. Sounds crazy right? Not really. Recommit yourself and your organization to being straightforward and honest.
Supporting information in your message
Make sure that your message, whether it be through direct mail or other forms of advertisement and PR, is full of facts and logic that back your claims you are making about the benefits of your product. Keep it consistent across all touch points.
Supporting information on your website
You do not exist unless you exist virtually. Your website says a lot about you â€“ it is either building or destroying your credibility. Make sure it is the former by making sure that is done tastefully and full of information that supports your claims.
Blogs and other social media communities
Online communities have enhanced the way we all get to know each other. You can use blogs and social media to create friends or fans of your product or brand. When you have a strong online community around your product or brand it becomes a self feeding credibility machine. Your online community reinforces your credibility amongst current members and recruits new members.