What is Credibility Marketing?

(Episode 1 of 2 with Jill Salzman)


Jill Salzman is the author of The Best Business Book In The World* (*According To My Mom) and the Amazon best-seller, Found It: A Field Guide for Mom Entrepreneurs. She also hosts the top-rated entertaining business podcast, Why Are We Shouting? MSN Live says she’s a “Cool Mom Entrepreneur We Love” and Forbes rated her a Top 100 Champion Small Business Influencer.

In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss credibility marketing. As you know, I believe credibility marketing is one of the most important business tectonic shifts happening today. Jill is also a strong believer in the importance of credibility but may have some different opinions on it she will share with us today.

Key Takeaways

Here are today’s key takeaways:

  1. In my opinion, credibility marketing is the most important tectonic shift happening today.
  2. Credibility is proving our value through honest feedback, support, and social proof.
  3. Offering incentives to get a customer to write a review may not be the best way to build credibility.
  4. If the person writing the review is perceived as an expert in our industry that can build more credibility.

Credibility Marketing as a Tectonic Shift

Tectonic shifts are fundamental core changes that are transforming the business landscape. One of the best ways to get a competitive advantage in your industry is to find the most important tectonic shifts and to leverage them. Our competitors that are much larger and have a lot more resources, usually can’t adapt as quickly as we can. It gives us a competitive advantage if we’re willing to identify and leverage them before anyone else.

In my opinion, credibility marketing is the most important tectonic shift happening today. The reason I believe that is 25 years ago, businesses used to buy as much advertising as they could get to tell the world how awesome they are. However, that strategy doesn’t work very well anymore. Consumers are becoming less trusting and don’t really trust what a business says about itself. So, businesses are having to turn to much more credible people to show their customers that have real value.

Many businesses will look to customers that have purchased their products, experts in the industry, influencers, word of mouth marketing, review marketing, etc. instead of traditional advertising. They’re turning to these sources to get much more credible people to tell their ideal audience that they’re awesome. People that are doing this effectively are seeing transformational changes in their revenue.

When I asked Jill her opinions on my view of credibility marketing, she had to disagree with me. She said, “I don’t think [credibility marketing] is the great tectonic shift that you’re claiming it is. . . . I think it’s a very, very slow evolution in the right direction.”

Jill believes that credibility has always been important. The internet has just opened up more opportunities for people to post their feedback publicly in a way businesses couldn’t really do when they were buying ads.

“Wherever there is fakery and wherever there is . . . lying as they used to do a lot, . . . I think we all naturally come out [towards credibility marketing],” she said. “I don’t think it’s a shift. I think it’s always been there; it’s just now growing.”

In the past, choosing to run ads on specific TV stations could have been considered credibility marketing. Businesses likely choose to run their ad campaigns on certain radio stations or TV channels based on what type of audience was watching, on how credible the station was, etc. Having an ad at the Superbowl or on the most popular network likely built the brand’s credibility.

What does it mean to be credible?

To first understand what is credible, we can understand what is not credible. It is not credible to pay someone to talk about our brand in most cases.

“If you pay $50,000 to have a famous person talk about how Jill Salzman is the best person in the world who has written the best book in the world, that’s not real. I don’t think that’s credible,” Jill said. “Real credibility is putting it in the hands of the customer, of the client, of people you’ve worked with, who don’t have a buy in and who have really experienced your services or worked with you.”

Many businesses will offer incentives or payments to have someone write them a good review or give them a testimonial. Is this credible? If the person they are paying doesn’t love our brand or use our products, this likely isn’t credible or moral. While it can be okay to incentivize loyal customers to write a review, it still isn’t the best option. When we do this, we have to put a disclaimer that the customer was incentivised to give the review and that can lower our credibility.

Instead, we should find customers who love us enough to write a review or testimonial simply because they want to. All we have to do is ask them. The person who does not have bias (is not paid or incentivized) is going to be perceived as being much more credible. To be credible, we have to be honest and real.

If the person writing the review is perceived as an expert in our industry or niche focus, that will also build credibility. If I were selling solar panels, and I just had a celebrity endorse my solar panels, it might bring me reach, but not a lot of credibility. However, if I get a professor of solar energy at Arizona State University to endorse my solar panels, it will be much more credible. To be credible, we should be seen as knowledgeable and an expert.

While reviews and testimonials are one of the best ways to build credibility, there are many others. We will go over a few more ways to build credibility in the next episode, but one I will mention here is press. Getting press about our brand can also generate credibility. It shows the world you have something interesting worthy of knowing about. “Businesses that get a lot of good press make it appear to potential buyers that they must be amazing because they’re getting so much press,” Jill said.

Essentially, credibility is proving our value through honest feedback, support, and social proof.

Businesses Growing Through Credibility and What We Can Learn From Them

Here are two businesses that used credibility marketing to grow:

Cupcake Shop

There’s a cupcake shop in Chicago with amazing flavors. Their food was so delicious, it ended up getting them lots of press. The press helped build their authority and credibility, and got people coming to their store in masses. Customers suddenly viewed them as the experts in the cupcake arena in Chicago simply because people were talking about them.

When our products are so good, our customers will talk about them. This increases word of mouth marketing and can lead to things such as attention from the press.

“​​A number of Founding Moms that I work with have had real success and have taken advantage of this credibility marketing that we’re talking about, purely because they’ve worked long and hard,” Jill said. To be credible, we first have to start with providing true value in our brands.

Nail Products

A woman Jill worked with at Founding Moms created a nail product. It was a rubber cement for your cuticles so you can peel off your nail polish easily. The woman worked really hard, spread the word, came to meetings, got the word out to influencers, and now her product is in every Sephora and she travels the world sharing her business. Slowly, but surely she built credibility.

Her success was largely due to credibility and showing people her products really work. She showed her customers testimonials and reviews. She proved to them that her product was really as great as she said it was.

The secret in this story is the words slowly but surely. She was willing to put in the work, show up to meetings, and talk to her customers. Finally built enough trust and got enough people to believe in her that she got the reach and credibility and it exploded. A piece of good credibility marketing is having the patience to let it happen organically.

Connect with Jill

Thank you so much Jill for sharing your stories and insights with us today. To learn more about or connect with Jill:

Next Steps

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