Thinking of Leaving Teaching?

Going Self-Employed – Trust and Credibility in Business

In December 2016 I was informed by my sister that my three-year-old nephew had pointed at the television when Claude Littner appeared on The Apprentice and said, “Uncle Craig!” Despite sharing an obvious physical characteristic, anybody who knows me would agree that there is very little similarity in personality. Yet, like Claude, I’m excellent at finding out if someone’s not telling the truth.

Image of Claude Littner, from the University of West London with the Launch of Claude Littner Business School.
Claude Littner – Image from the University of West London, Launch of Claude Littner Business School.

I’ve had an interest in video since the late 1990s. As a teacher, I realised how important video was as a medium and frequently used video clips in my lessons to increase engagement. When I left teaching, I decided to promote videos to businesses to help them enhance their online presence as I believed that websites should be more than just pictures and text.

With video, you can introduce who you are, show people what your business is all about and improve your ‘know, like, trust factor’ by backing up what you have written on your website with video proof. Now that we have fast broadband, using video in your marketing is a no brainer!

Videos Can Build Trust

When I’m looking for products or services there are certain things I will look for on a company’s website before I go any further. These are:

  • About Us – does it really talk about them as people, showing photos or video, or is it merely lots of jargon about their Aims, Goals, Objectives, Vision, Values and Mission Statement?
  • Contact details – Does it say where they’re based? Can I find them on “Google My Business”?

If they pass those criteria, then I will want to see some proof of what they say on their website before I even begin to start to trust that business. I will look at:

  • Photographic or Video Evidence of the products or services that they say they provide. If you’re a creative person then why wouldn’t you have examples of your work on show for people to see?
  • Reviews and Testimonials, both on their website and on Google My business – I will then decide if these can be trusted. Are they from varied sources spaced out over time or exclusively from members of their Business Networking Group on the same day?

I was looking for a service back in 2014 and used my criteria to narrow my searches down to three websites, two of which had video:

  • Website 1 had a video which looked like it had been videoed by themselves in their kitchen and it went on to explain what they did.
  • Website 2 had two videos which had clearly been professionally made. One was of the business owner introducing themselves and explaining what they did. The other was a short video testimonial from someone else backing up what had been said in the introduction. My main criticism for the videos was that they both included music which I thought was too loud and acted as a distraction.

I ended up contacting the person from Website 2. In my opinion they could be trusted to do what they said they could do. The deciding factor that made me purchase their service was the video content they had on their website.

The reason I didn’t contact the person from Website 1 was because they had recorded their own poor quality video. Unfortunately, many new businesses will try to save as much money as possible by doing things themselves. As well as recording their own videos, I have known some business owners design their own logo and print out their business cards on paper! Those are not the signs of a successful business. Trying to save money like that can be counter-productive because people may see you as an amateur and not the business that is going to provide them with a good service.

Video Testimonials

Testimonials are part of the social proof that people want to see if they’re going to trust a business. Written testimonials have been around for many years, but how much could they be trusted? Did the person whose name was written at the bottom of the testimonial even exist? If they did exist, could it be proved that they even wrote the testimonial?

A meme with the Abraham Lincoln quote, "Don't believe everything you read on the Internet... especially Facebook.
Abraham Lincoln – Fake quote!

A video testimonial removes much of that doubt because you can see the person talking and it’s easy to verify that the person is who they claim to be. However, there are still potential problems with video testimonials:

  • Can the person giving the video testimonial be trusted?
  • Does the video content come across as contrived?
  • Does the video testimonial have credibility?

You may be wonderful, but if your video testimonials were all recorded at the same place at the same time then this can affect their credibility. Video testimonials are far more credible if the people appearing on the video were recorded at their workplace rather than after a business networking meeting where they simply lined up to give their testimonials, one by one.

Credibility

In recent years, I have seen a rising number of self-proclaimed “experts” appear across many sectors. Now in my opinion the word “expert” should be something you’d like to be known as by others rather than a term you’d use to describe yourself. So how do you become an expert in the eyes of others?

“If you’re truly an expert, you shouldn’t need to tell people that. Being an expert is like being cool… if you’re truly cool, others will know you’re cool. Telling people you’re cool is not cool”

Thinking of Leaving Teaching 😎

One way of being known as an expert is to show knowledge of your particular field, especially knowledge that has been gained by experience rather than posting links to a series of Google searches. It can be done by writing books, blogs and articles and I know several people who are thought of as experts in their fields because of books they’ve written.

There are people who can appear to be experts simply by talking. A minority of these gain credibility because they “talk the talk” but inevitably people learn that they can’t “walk the walk”. Because they are not truly “experts” some of these people will find it difficult to create their own unique writing.

I came across one of these people a few years ago; they had published a blog in their name and subsequently received considerable praise. Nevertheless, I knew it had been copied because I’d read a similar article a few weeks earlier. Unsurprisingly, a subsequent plagiarism check revealed that they’d copied the entire content from a blog belonging to a business in the same industry as them. Their plagiarism had resulted in a boost to their credibility in the eyes of others and they had subsequently published it on LinkedIn.

Plagiarism, though, is very easy to detect. If you want to produce content for your marketing to enhance your credibility and be seen as a trusted expert, then you will need to put in the effort to ensure that it is sufficiently different from existing content or you will lose both credibility and trust when you’re found out.

People have for many years talked about “Know, Like, Trust” and “People do business with people they like”. Nobody likes a cheat.

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