Why CREDIBILITY Comes Before PROFITABILITY

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How does credibility drive profitability?

I know you want to make profits. I also know that you want lots of it. I have come to tell you that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, except for one minor often neglected fact, which is, “what is the origin of profits?”

 

In my little experience in the world of business, going to 5 years now, I have discovered one truth and have often made it the guiding principle behind most of my business actions and decisions.

 

That truth is this; “building credibility comes before profitability”. In the lay man terms, here’s what I mean; “seeing is believing”.

 

I cannot stress this fact enough, because it is at the core of everything we do as entrepreneurs. People don’t pay for or buy words, or promises, or mind blowing ads, they pay for and buy results. There’s no way you are going to get money from people, until they can see, feel and know that you can deliver on your words, promises and mind blowing ads.

 

It is not easy to part with money, because it is not easy to make it in the first place. This is why as entrepreneurs and business owners, our first task is to instill that sense of competence, credibility, capability or trust in the mind of our target market or prospects long before we ever ask for a sale. Listen, “seeing is believing”, take it or leave it.

 

People need proves that they are not throwing their hard earned money away as a result of doing business with you. They want you to show them why it is you and no other person or business that should deserve their hard earned currency. This is the test of every business; the fight for the customer or prospects’ money.

 

This article has been unusually written to help you win that fight, not luckily, but strategically. How? Because as always, I’m going to unusually break down this principle to its most simplified form such that the knowledge and insight therein will be naturally clear to you and practical enough to put to use immediately. And to top it up, at the end I will be sharing two practical case studies to help you see this principle at work.

Now, let us begin!

 

What is credibility?

Credibility is that perceived sense or feeling of trust or belief that people have towards you as a result of relating with you. Credibility is the ability to inspire or earn the trust, belief or confidence of others towards you based on a combination of certain factors or qualities they have seen at play in your life. Credibility is the direct result of exhibiting certain qualities consistently.

 

Credibility is earned, meaning it doesn’t come freely; it is a direct outcome of a conscious effort. Credibility is not a thing you can give; it is a thing you get. It is not up to you to say [you can’t give it], it is up to others to say [you receive it]. Credibility is not in your hands; credibility is in the hands of others. It is the impression others have about you and all that you do or represent.

 

It is your perceived sense of value or worth in the eyes of others when it comes to certain issues regarding life or business. Credibility is all about managing others perception of you. Credibility is the feedback you get from others as a result of who you are, what you do and what you represent. It is the highest form of compliment you could ever ask for in life or in business.

 

In the world of marketing, the whole concept of a brand is wrapped around credibility. A brand is a marketer’s definition of the credibility or trust customers have towards a particular business, company or organization and the products or services they offer. It is the summation of feelings or overall perception a customer has towards a particular business, company or organization and the products or services they offer.

 

A brand is that level of credibility, trust, confidence or belief others have come to place or associate with a particular business, company or organization and all that it represents. A brand is only a brand so long as other people still has a certain level of trust, belief, confidence or credibility towards it. Once that sense, feeling or perception of trust, belief, confidence or credibility diminishes, a brand ceases to exist.

 

At its very core, a brand exists in other people’s mind and not in yours. In your eyes a brand could still exist, but in the eyes of others, it is already dead. The bitter truth is, it is what others generally say about you and what your business represents that gets taken as credibility or not. Your credibility lies in the hands of others. You are as credible as others say you are or aren’t.

 

Meaning, your business, product or service is only as good as others say it is. In business as well as in life, your overall value is collectively estimated by other’s perception of you and all that you represent. Your credibility in life or in business lies outside of yourself. And this is why profitability only happens after credibility has been established.

 

 

Why does credibility matter?

At the core of everything we do in life and in business is the desire to influence. We are all in the game of influence. We all want to dictate the response of others in our favour. Children cry when they are hungry because they want to influence their parent’s attention at that particular time. Ladies look seductive in order to influence the attention of men. Men spend in order to influence the perception of women. Marketers advertise in order to influence the purchasing decision of buyers. Politicians campaign in order to influence the voter’s decision in their favour.

 

In a rather subtle way, we all want to have a certain level of control over the behaviour or reaction of others in response to what we do, say or think. In the end, nothing is wrong with wanting to influence others, so long as it is not coerced [forced]. That is, nothing is wrong with playing the influence game once it is done legitimately and ethically. As a matter of fact, people do always want to be influenced, but not compelled. They want to own the final decision or choice to act.

 

However, they need certain level of information from the environment on which to draw a clue or base their final decision or choice. This is where the issue of credibility comes into play. Credibility is the only legitimate, moral and ethical form of influence permissible by law and nature. Credibility is influence earned. Credibility is the permission or privilege given by others to you to be influenced by you. Why?

 

Because over time you’ve earned that permission or privilege as a result of certain consistent actions, qualities or behaviours you’ve been exhibiting from which they have been benefiting. Because they have seen those consistent behaviours, actions and qualities and have come to value them, therefore they let down their guards and allow themselves to be influenced by you.

 

Credibility is a social license; once abused, it can be retrieved or revoked. The license is only valid so long as it is not wrongfully used. Meaning, you can only keep influencing the behaviour, actions or decisions of others as long as you’re consistently doing what gave you the right to earn it in the first place. Your right to influence ceases once you credibility diminishes.

 

Can credibility be developed?

Yes! Below I offer the basic ingredients necessary for earning the credibility required for gaining the right to influence the actions or decisions of your customers which eventually leads to profitability. Let’s now begin the process with two peculiar case studies to wrap it all up!

 

 

  • Who are you by the way?

    [Getting the word out]

I am willing and absolutely comfortable handing out my money to someone I have heard of somewhere else before now. This is the reaction of every customer, prospect or client out there. You want to make the sale? Don’t be the first or only person that is just mentioning the name of your business, product or service, it somehow raises people’s suspicion. Here’s what comes to their mind; “If it were that good, how come I have never heard of it before?” why? Because I will not give out my money to just anybody.

 

It is a very logical thing to do. You cannot come to me reciting all your sales pitch and just expect me to hand you my hard earned money simply because you can speak good English or wear a nice looking suit. Absolutely not! That’s not how it works; you’ve got to build credibility first. Meaning, you’ve got to earn the right to influence me first. And the first place to start is to announce the existence of your business and its products/services long before you come into the presence of the prospect, client or customer. How do you do this?

 

Marketing.

Marketing is the core business function that deals with the entire process of finding, attracting and keeping customers or clients for life as a result of consistently creating, communicating and delivering superior value to them in form of products/services.

 

Marketing is what helps you identify the prospect or target customers for what you want to sell. Marketing is what reveals what they need or what their problems are, without which, you cannot create a solution or product/service that will meet their needs and solve their problems.

 

Marketing is what helps you to first get the news of your business’ existence to them long before you show up physically. Marketing is what bridges the gap between you and the target prospects or customers. Marketing is a tool for building credibility. You had better learn how to use it, or else don’t expect profits!

  • What have you done and for whom?

    [Showcasing your track record]

I am willing and absolutely comfortable handing out my money to you if you can just show me what you’ve been able to accomplish in the past through this particular product or service you’re now offering me. Nobody likes to be an experiment, most especially, if they are going to be the first specimen. Prospects, clients or target markets want to know what you and your business has done that relates to what you are now offering for sale. There’s no need going out there to meet with the client or prospect if you don’t have any results to point to. The true test of competence is the quantity and quality of results presented.

 

No one cares how you got the deal, prospect or client; they just want to know if and how you met the needs and solved the problem. This is why it is important when staring out in business as an entrepreneur, to focus on getting as many jobs done so as to be able to build up your portfolio or track record for future references. Some people advice against doing things in business for free, I would say it depends.

 

If you know the person you want to do a free work for, especially those of us in the service industry, has a lot of social influence, that is, knows a lot of people who can be possible prospects, then go ahead. But be smart, that you are doing it for them free doesn’t mean you do it for free for everyone that comes from them also.

 

Furthermore, be careful to really assess their social influence, not everyone who is popular is important. Get that into your entrepreneurial head! You want to be sure that they don’t just know a lot of people, but that a lot of important people also know them. I mean, I do know Barrack Obama; he’s the president of the United States for crying out loud. But hey, does he know me? That’s the big question you need to always answer before deciding to do a free service for anyone.

 

  • How long have you been doing this?

    [If I must be influenced, you must be experienced]

You must be really good if you’ve managed to be around for a considerable period of time. Why? Because experience is not gotten overnight; it is built over a long period of time. Besides results, experience is one other thing that counts in business. The fact that you’ve been doing a particular thing for a considerable period of time goes a long way to show that you would have developed a deeper level of knowledge and insight better than someone who is just starting out. And this can be translated into a very valuable source of credibility.

 

In marketing under the concept of differentiation and positioning, it is called leveraging on heritage. Heritage simply means the riches of the past or wealth of experience of the past. It is something that has been passed from years to years.

 

Why does the number of years in business count for credibility? Because experience can never be bought with money. It is only acquired over time. Time is the only way to measure experience. The idea is very simple; passing a road for the first time or doing a thing for the first time often looks difficult and your confidence level is usually low because of the fear of making mistakes.

 

But over time, doing the same thing over and over again, your confidence level soars and the time it took you to complete the task the first time will considerably be reducing the more you do that particular task or thing. This is why experience counts for credibility; it reduces the number of possible mistakes and increases the speed at which the task gets completed. All of these gets converted into credibility in the eyes of the client or prospect in terms of time savings and cost savings.

 

  • What are others saying about you?

    [The battle for social proof]

I am willing and comfortable to do business with you, if there are other people out there talking about you positively. The need for social proof has increasingly become very important most especially since the rise of the internet and social media where it’s now easy to check up the credibility of just about anybody or company.

 

What you do both as an entrepreneur and also as the ambassador of your business is no longer hidden or secret, thanks to Google. The only time a word doesn’t go out there about you or your business is if you have never used the internet or don’t have an email address. But so long as you have an email, it shows you have registered your presence on the World Wide Web and Google will most certainly find you!

 

Therefore, it is important to guard your business reputation and make sure you are consistent wherever and to whomever you are dealing with in business or personally. They can do a background check on your business or reputation as an entrepreneur.

 

So get out there, and make sure what others are saying about you connotes a positive image of your company, business or brand. If you have done wrong in the past, be sure to make up and apologize. No one is perfect, so if a client has an issue previously with you or your business, be sure to address and try to remedy the situation as fast as possible, before it becomes the next blog post of that person.

 

CASE STUDY:

Never Go to Print as an Author Unless You’ve 1st Built an Audience

A friend of mine some years ago made up his mind to write a book. Before embarking on the process of compiling the articles he had previously written, I advised him not to publish the book yet, at the very least, not until he established some credibility.

 

My point was simple; why publish a book, when no one other than your family and friends knows or has heard about you? Why publish a book offering principles or ideas no one else other than you has put to use? Why publish a book when your life as the author didn’t reflect or epitomize the principles or ideas you’re writing about?

 

I encouraged him to test his ideas and principles by creating and running a blog or a group on Facebook where he could gradually but consistently share these ideas or principles and get feedback on their potential to change and create positive results. I asked him to point or mention examples of people who he had shared the ideas or principles he wanted to write about with and who got positive results when they applied what he recommended. Surprisingly, he couldn’t come up with concrete names or examples of those he could go to who have proofs of his ideas or principles at work and could boldly come out to testify.

 

In a rather funny twist of events, he went ahead and published the book without informing me while it was being published till it was out in print. And so he went out to market his book, but guess what? He met roadblocks; no one was willing to stock the books on their bookshelves. They weren’t so sure it was going to sell because they had never heard of the author up until then. Even I being his so called friend didn’t bother going through it. Why? Because he didn’t come across to me as someone who was practicing what he was preaching.

 

A smarter Approach …Using credibility as a LEVERAGE!

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith are the authors of “Trust Agents: Using the web to build influence, improve reputation and earn trust” a book that made the New York Times best sellers list in just about two weeks or so of its release. I strongly recommend the book for all entrepreneurs serious about building SIGNIFICANT businesses. In fact, as I write this, I am reading it for the second time this year.

 

How did Chris and Julien pull it off?

 

They were the best at using credibility as leverage for profitability. Chris had been blogging for the past 10 years before he decided to co-author the book with Julien who had also been on the web for long. They had both initially written an ebook called Trust Economies [click on title to download your copy] published by Changethis an online ebook publishing organization founded by Seth Godin [they are also publishing my 1st ebook too :)] to test the principles and ideas which they later expanded in the hardcover book.

 

They spent years building their credibility amongst their audience and when the book was eventually released Chris made an audacious statement; “Over the years, I’ve done what I can to be helpful to as many people as humanly possible, without ever asking for much in return. It’s the right way to do it. But now, I’m asking for your support.”

 

It was the most audacious statement and ultimate test of credibility ever, it worked and it’s still working till now. Everyone bought the book and so many people didn’t just buy one copy, they both in droves. You can read all about it here; the big push!

 

The conclusion

Credibility is a great leverage for building profitability in business if you can only learn to put it first before profitability. It can take you to places you have never anticipated and it can bring you closer to your entrepreneurial goals faster than any other business strategy.

 

Learn to master the four steps above and see credibility do wonders for your business.

 

Hint: I created this site, naijapreneur! For credibility sake! Wouldn’t you agree with me that the leverage of credibility is already at work here? If you think otherwise, be bold to share your thoughts, opinion or suggestions in the comment box below. Thanks for enduring the reading process; I know it was pretty long! :)

 

 

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Comments

  1. Great Blog post. I am going to bookmark and read more often. I love the Blog template

    • Hey Ben!
      Good to have you here with us. I hope you learnt a thing or more as a result of dropping by our community? Thanks for the bookmark and hope to see you around again. On behalf of everyone one of US, I welcome you to naijapreneur!

  2. Hi Tito,

    Very nice post! I agree with you credibility is crucial if we really want to succeed. It is very crucial to build trust with the customers otherwise, they will not consider your products. For us, entrepreneurs, we can build trust through our articles. Let me give you an example about myself, which I learned from my dear friend Farouk at http://www.2knowmyself.com When a person comes to mysite and reads an article or two and likes what I have to say, then this person/customer will consider my products. It is a well known “fact” that people who come to our sites for the first time, they will NOT buy our products because they don’t know who we are. After reading an article, two, or three and then coming back on another day, then there is some kind of credibility and trust between us and the customers. That is why many entrepreneurs offer free articles to gain credibility and trust between them and their customers. In regards to your friend, I agree with you he should have started a blog to build trust and get people’s opinions. Even if he made his book as an ebook, he could sell some decent copies when he writes free articles to gain trust and people who search for such info using seo, for example, might consider buying the ebook if they like what he had to say in the articles. Very nice article my friend :) Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks Dia, You have just shared with us another brilliant case study here of how credibility really does help to instill that confidence in our target prospects without which we as entrepreneurs cannot successfully make any sale in business. It’s good having your input Dia, I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  3. SmartAboutThings says:

    Is it just me or the titles are too wrapped into the content? At least it seems so to me

  4. Justin Dupre says:

    What a nice article with many great pointers.. I agree with you 100% that in business, building credibility comes before profitability. It’s really not easy gaining trust from customer and it’s necessary if you could do it to your online business!

    • Hi Justin.
      Glad to have you join us here and share your own thoughts about the need to be credible in business. Truth be told, it’s not so easy to get ahead in business without building credibility first. It’s a very fundamental criteria for business success.

      Thanks for joining us and welcome to naijapreneur! the gathering place of unusual entrepreneurs. Hope to see you again? :)

  5. Nobody likes to be an experiment, most especially, if they are going to be the first specimen.

    Well said Tito. It is best to be guinea pig for own experiments rather than making someone else and then showing the results.
    I guess the move was successful. Which host are you using now?

    • Thanks Ishan for your comments, I guess we all don’t want to be guinea pigs. Better to test all your ideas first on yourself than to use others for your experiments. Yes the move was successful. Now I am on Mochahost. Thanks for the support My friend, :)

      • Great that it is all fine now. Hope Mochahost do not do anything like BlueHost. But weren’t you moving to HostGator, why MochaHost then?

        • Yea Ishan, I was moving to Hostgator, but a colleague of mine suggested otherwise, at least for the moment. Says I will get the same deal Hostgator was offering from Mochahost, but only cheaper. So I decided to give them a shot!

  6. Tito – this was a great article. I’m currently working on one myself on the topic of credibility. While different overall – the focus is on credibility.

    I love how you explained the importance of establishing a level of credibility prior to making serious business moves. It makes sense – you increase your sales, and retain a heck of a lot more customers by doing such.

    I’ve seen in business when people deliberately work to earn credibility, they fall short in the long run. The focus should be, in my experience, to allow the work to prove worthiness and credibility will come naturally.

    I’ll have to check out that book!

    You my friend are not only credible – but incredible.

    • Thanks JK. for Your comments, I really do recommend you read the book. It’s a great read really and anxiously looking forward to your post on credibility. Can’t wait to read your own and learn from the Hustler’s angle :)

  7. Awesome post bro. Credibility matters a lot in business. People can’t just work with you just because you are in a nice suit or you speak good english. It won’t work that way. It’s always good to get testimonials from your prospects because it will help boost up your credibility. I hope you get what I’m saying? PS:Did you get my mail?

  8. This is a great article, Tito. So many internet marketers focus only on SEO, conversion, etc. But if they spend half that much time focusing on credibility, I think they’d notice their profits increase, too.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Tristan,
      Glad to have you here finally, been really looking forward to it :)

      It’s true that most internet entrepreneurs focus so much on the technical side of the business like you pointed out, SEO, Google Page rank, Plugins, Email List, etc. and forgetting to lay emphasis on building credibility, which of course is the foundation of profitability.

      Once again Tristan, thank you for coming out here, on behalf of everyone, I welcome you naijapreneur! the budding community for unusual entrepreneurs. Would definitely love to see you again.

  9. Susanna Hess says:

    Well put Tito,

    You’re absolutely right on so many points. Credibility is an underrated. Everything we do contributes to our credibility, whether good or not.

    Thanks for a detailed and informative post on this topic!

    Susanna

  10. Credibility is a platform that can take you to the next level in your entrepreneurship journey.

    Well written article.

  11. Tito, this was an excellent article (as always) and EXACTLY what I’m trying to do now: build credibility. (LOL, you know all about it, with all the help you’ve been giving me so far.)

    I like that example with your friend and the book. It doesn’t surprise me that no one wanted to stock his book. I think this is a huge reason why artists struggle so much, because they can’t build credibility, get their name out there, and then market themselves… which is why there are so many of those “starving artists.”

    I’m interested in seeing what you have in store for this “origin of profits” article too. And the books you suggested seem like a few I’d like to add to my reading wishlist. Awesome! Outstanding work and very detailed article! :)

    • Thanks Elise. I am totally pleased to have been at work with you these few days trying to figure out how best to own your niche. It’s been a pleasure indeed working with you :)

      I agree about Artists starving and a whole lot of entrepreneurs out there too. It can be likened to putting the cart before the horse. A total waste of time, if you ask me.

      Keep your fingers crossed. Promise you would also love the article about the origin of profits. Thanks for your awesome support in making this budding community a learning platform for us all.

  12. Hi Tito,
    A excellent article. Credibility is something we all strive for. It’s the one thing that most people don’t consider. Social proof is critical to your success. Build it and they will come doesn’t apply anymore, good pillar content and consistency is the key to success.
    Pete

    • Hey Pete,
      Thank you very much for joining us here. I really like the way you phrased it; “build it and they will come doesn’t apply anymore” Very true indeed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. And welcome to naijapreneur! Hope to see you around again?

  13. Be careful of your financial statements this is one area where you can easily lose credibility if presented poorly.

    • Hello Monex,
      Thank you so very much for joining us here and being a part of our on going discussion on credibility. You are so right about the need to carefully present our financial information. It is one of the reasons why many people lose trust in some quoted companies because of falsification of numbers. I think as entrepreneurs, putting the customers and the world at large in view will greatly help us to go about our businesses in a more credible matter. We must always remind ourselves that it is never about us, but about others and the universe as a whole.

      Hope to see you again Monex. Welcome to naijapreneur!

  14. I love this post, and you touch upon some very strong points. However, me being me, I’m going to say that obviously age is debatable as a credibility factor. You’re fairly young and I doubt anyone’s questioning your credibility because of this blog. Anthony Robbins actually got started in his teens, I believe, or at least when he was very young, and he was really convincing a lot of people. And there are a number of older people whose credibility definitely should be questioned as well.

    I think credibility depends on two things; passion and the ability to exhibit knowledge. There are people who’ve never had the opportunity to do something on their own who probably know their subject backward and forward and only need an opportunity to show someone their prowess.

    • Thanks for joining us once again Mitch,
      You have brought in some more insight into this discussion on credibility. Yea, Anthony Robins started at the age of 21 and very much convinced people with his Neuro Linguistic Programming principles and teachings. Age truly is not really a big hindrance to credibility, once you have a commendable track record and can articulately present your ideas and strong points, I think anyone would give you a chance.

  15. Jess Webb (aka Jessilicious) says:

    Hi Tito!

    Some interesting thoughts and points here on credibility. And you’re absolutely right – it is vital for building a successful business. The Social Proof and Showcasing your Track Record are the two components that I am most focused on right now for my own business. I find that it’s not hard to put these pieces in place – you just need to be conscious and do it purposefully, instead of expecting it to happen by default. ;)

    Great article, and I love your site here! :)

    • Hey jessilicious, I am so loving this nick name of yours, very memorable. One visit to your site, made the name stick and your use of quirkiness is just awesome.

      Thanks so much for joining our budding community here. I can’t wait for you to bless us with your Quirkiness. Welcome to naijapreneur!

  16. Hi Tito :)
    Totally agree, you first need to create that kind of bond with your readers (probably future customers) because if you don’t it’s rare someone will buy anything from you. I think the point is pretty clear.
    Thanks for the share!

    • Hey Fernando,
      Thank you for joining us here on why credibility comes before profitability. It’s pretty clear as you’ve rightly noted that readers or future customers will not pay or buy anything until they have first considered you and your brand credible.
      You are welcome to naijapreneur! Going off to check out your blog now :)

  17. Tito,

    I am throughly impressed with the sheer amount of pure insight you provided in this post. I agree with you 100% that creditbility is the best way to create profitablity. It is a matter of trust. If I can’t trust you I don’t care if you have the best product in the world I won’t do business with you.

    I think a great thing to focus on in the future is how to build credibility.

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    […] Why CREDIBILITY Comes Before PROFITABILITY » […]

  3. […] Credibility in its most basic meaning is the ability to inspire trust or belief. In other words, credibility refers to the ability of the entrepreneur to inspire or earn the trust and willingness of others to accept what he or she proposes as true. Credibility basically comes from four sources; […]

  4. […] So you see why I wouldn’t really blame you for answering yes. Because I know you have a fantastic logo, an attractive business name, a beautiful buy line or slogan and a persuasive corporate color to wrap it all up. All of these can truly make you feel branded, but I’ve got bad news; branding is NOT about imagery, branding is all about TRUST. […]

  5. […] them empowers the hens to lay more eggs that you can eventually sell.Business is no different.Making money in business is a question of potential. The ideal question instead of asking what business can make you some good money is this;“How can […]

  6. […] every idea, project or business must go through a testing period whereby it will have to earn credibility in the marketplace. Your idea, project or business is ripe when it has gained public or market acceptance and […]

  7. […] the business creates -products/services).The third thing every business makes is not profit, but credibility (market trust earned from repeatedly delivering value).The fourth thing every business makes is not […]

  8. […] best answer to that question is a compelling message, story or idea that will communicate value, trust and relevance. Give people something they can connect with, relate to and emotionally identify with, […]

  9. […] It creates a social license. When people trust your business, they’re more likely to share your content or talk about your services with their friends. In other words, credibility influences consumer behavior. […]

  10. […] You need some. If you don’t come across as being a credible source of information, your customers are going to have a difficult time opening their wallets up to you…your business. Remember, credibility comes before profitability. […]

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