How to build instant credibility with clients

by Brendon on May 30, 2005

Howdy. Building credibility with a client is one of the fundamental ways to ensure your business is presented in the best possible light. And to build credibility, we have to take into account stereotypes. Stereotypes are basically mental habits that people have.
Usually, people will apply a stereotype thought to you based on certain criteria.
* If you wear a white coat and a stethoscope – you must be a doctor
* If you wear a oil stained pair of overalls – you must be a auto mechanic
* If you wear a suit and carry a briefcase – you must be in business
Now when you think of each of those people and occupations, you’ll attribute certain emotional to them. For example, most people trust medical doctors and assume a high level of professional behaviour from them. So if you wear that white coat and stethoscope, you’ll be likely to receive the benefit of that bias.
How we can use stereotypes to our advantage
Sounds a bit cynical, but it’s not. Everyday in everyway we act certain ways to elicit the behavioural response we want – my daughter can basically get me to do anything by changing her voice to a soft and gentle pitch and saying “Daddy, I love you…….”
I’m sure we’ve all been victims of something as simple as a change in tone of voice!
What is going to be most beneficial
So firstly, we have to decide what perception of us is going to be most beneficial. I’ll use myself as an example and I’ll narrow it down to 2 aspects.
In our web division, it is commercially useful for me to be seen as an expert and successful at what I do.
So this is what I do
# 1: Expert – write a book, write articles, write this web site, write newsletters, give speeches, have a good media profile.
Okay, people read my book/articles/web site/newsletters, hear me give a speech and then read about me in the newspaper. Safe to say that most people will assume I’m an expert from those things.
# 2: Successful – good media profile, dress well, have a ‘Brag Wall’ in the office, refer to successful clients and provide ++ testimonials to prospects. People see all that and assume I’m successful.
People look at those aspects and make assumptions about me. And they have to be assumptions, because the vast, vast majority of our clients cannot assess my level of expertise in web work.
(And because they can’t assess my expertise, they rely to a large extent on the perception of my success because that perception basically provides an independent 3rd part endorsement of our success.)

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