The Six Currencies That Buy Credibility

Currencies That Buy CredibilityLittle white lies never hurt a soul.

Hmmm. Sounds like the justification of a charlatan, doesn’t it?

In business, ad-speak is the kissing cousin of little white lies. Seemingly harmless. Swarming all around us. “We’ve got the lowest prices and best selection. Guaranteed.” “Service with a smile. Service you can count on.” “Trust us. We’ve got an honest mechanic on duty.

Boasting and happy-talk sounds like a ringing cash register to the ears of the business owner. But talk is cheap. And all the customer really hears is, “WHa-WHA-wHa-Wha-Wha-whA…”

Skepticism shields customers from the onslaught of hollow promises. Their advice to the business owner: Stop telling us what you’re good. Show us what you’re good at. Customers are looking for proof your business is as advertised. And the nonverbal signals your business sends provide them with this proof.

Are you consciously planning your signals, or are you simply leaving them up to chance?

Reinforcing your words with action takes hard work and courage. Gaining the trust of your customers isn’t free. It comes at a price.

What are you willing to spend to gain credibility and trust?

After years of research, I’ve determined there are just six things your business can risk or spend to elevate believability of your marketing message.

The Six Currencies That Buy Credibility:

  1. Material Wealth
  2. Time & Energy
  3. Opportunity
  4. Power & Control
  5. Reputation & Prestige
  6. Safety & Well Being

Let’s take a glimpse at the Avis “We Try Harder” campaign to witness the Currencies That Buy Credibility in action: In 1962 – after spending 13 years operating in the red – Avis was scrambling to turn their fortunes around. Luckily, the company hired the Doyle Dane and Bernbach ad agency who cooked up the “We Try Harder” campaign.

Recall that the driving force behind the legendary campaign was revealing Avis’ position as the #2 car rental company in the industry. Without this bold and unprecedented admission, the “We Try Harder” motto would have been a limp, unsubstantiated claim. And the admission was controversial – several Avis executives hated the idea – since it risked communicating to the public that Avis was second-rate.

But as you know, the campaign was a raving success. Avis reversed course and was profitable within a year from launching the campaign.

The lesson is this: The believability of Avis’ claim was directly related to their willingness to invest currencies, #4 Power & Control, #5 Reputation & Prestige and #6 Safety & Well-Being (by revealing their position as second in their industry).

Without having the backbone to be transparent, Avis would have been unable to convince a truth-thirsty public to choose them.

The Six Currencies are powerful. But beware. Not all signals are created equal. The size of the investment dictates the signal’s strength. The more you risk or spend, the more believable your message becomes.

Moving forward, I’ll be sharing with you more detailed examples and case studies. Together we’ll explore the good…

Signaling: Actions and decisions that are in agreement with your words and the publics expectations of your business.

And the bad…

Counter-signaling: Actions and decisions that are in conflict with your words and the publics expectations of your business.

See you next week ;-)

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9 Responses to “The Six Currencies That Buy Credibility”

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  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Jason Rakowski

  2. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Jason Rakowski

  3. Craig Arthur says:

    Great intro to a fascinating subject.

    Keep the stories coming.

  4. Craig Arthur says:

    Great intro to a fascinating subject.

    Keep the stories coming.

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