Growth Strategies for Business: Improve Your Believability

Only 8% of people trust what companies say about themselves. That’s right. You read it correctly. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, when companies talk about themselves, they are believed by only 8% of those listening.  That means 92% of those listening to you, don’t believe a word you say!

Wow! That’s pretty incredible. Makes me feel a bit like Charlie Brown’s teacher (wack – wack – wack).

What matters most for reputation? The Barometer discovered that the following have the greatest impact on reputation*:

  • high quality products or services – 69%
  • transparent and honest business practices – 65%
  • company I can trust – 65%
  • treats employees well – 63%

Fair prices, admired leadership, frequent communication and innovation are less important when it comes to reputation.

That’s not all.  The Edelman Trust Barometer says that if you heard information about a company from one of these people, it would be much more credible – an academic or expert, technical expert within the company, financial or industry analyst, or CEO. Does that ring true for you? I certainly took notice when Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet spoke.

Where do people generally go for news about a company?  Your natural inclination may be to go to the company website yet only 11% of those polled head to the website for news about a company.  (This must fall into that “92% who don’t believe what you say about your own company” category.)  The first place most people go for company information is online search engines, followed by online news resources.

How many times do you need to hear something about a specific company to believe the information is true?  59% of those polled said they would need to hear something 3-5 times before believing its true. And, apparently, they need to hear it from those listed above.

What can you do if Warren Buffet isn’t available as your company’s spokesperson? Here are four growth strategies to improve your company’s believability:

1. Act, dress, and speak like a CEO (or whatever title you choose to give yourself).  What’s good for your reputation, is good for your brand.

2. Be visible online. With the introduction of social media, it’s much easier for small entrepreneurial firms to achieve greater visibility online.  Through social media sites, articles optimized and submitted to article directories, or sharing your expertise with others on Linkedin, Focus or other online forums, information related to your company can be found more readily with search. You have to think outside of your company website.

3. Be seen offline.  Oh, this one is tough for us home office folk who can easily work all day in our Pj’s! Get involved in your business community to keep yourself in front of your potential clients. It makes you and your business more credible when you’re seen in public….preferably without your Pj’s.

4. Build trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer says trust is an essential line of business. Did you know there are nine steps to building trust? We’ve all experience someone who moved too quickly from the “Hi, my name is” to “Hey, take a look at my product”. Take your time to nurture someone through all the trust-building stages.  You’ll make them a client for life.

* Responses on 1-9 scale; 9=highest; Informed publics ages 25 – 64


  1. Very interesting survey…and post! I am surprised that reviews of customers like on, Google+, Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List,, etc. were not mentioned as influencers of trust. Personally I know if there are only a couple of reviews, I do look at them carefully to see if it looks like they are “contrived” and perhaps self-reviewed, but when a business has a dozen or more reviews and more than 75% are positive, I take note. Recently I ran across a restaurant that had amazing reviews. I met a friend there and it was a small, non-descript place with no one inside around lunch time on a weekday. I would not have gone in had it not been for the reviews that I trusted. Turns out that while we sat there and ate an amazing meal, about 20, possible 30 orders went out the door on delivery or pick-up. I have been back 3 times and it is always the same…seems this is mostly a takeout place so they don’t do a lot of decoration and don’t have many people at the tables. Thank goodness for reviews as I would never have discovered their amazing food!

  2. That’s a great point, Wanda. The study mentioned above reflects the believability of the messages being put out by the company itself where as, Angies List, Google + are focused on what others have to say.

    It reminds me of raising kids – if Mom says something, the kids don’t always listen but if a trusted Aunt or friend says the very same thing, the kids think its genius. :-D

    I need to update my article with #5. Engage your raving clients on Yelp, Angies List, etc.

    Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  3. Reputation and Toowoomba Electricians | Why Electricians need to protect their Reputation | Local Electrican

    […] Growth Strategies for Business: Improve Your Believability ( […]