Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

September 2011

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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.

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

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 take notice when Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet speaks.

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 Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet aren’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 your 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.

Nothing is more frustrating, especially for a small business owner or entrpreneur with limited time and money, to have a vendor that isn’t a good fit. Has that ever happend to you? It’s frustrating, isn’t it. Time, money, and a few brain cells, are lost as a result of the incompatibilities….not to mention all the energy lost from tolerating a poor fit (but that’s for another blog post).

One of our roles as a strategic coaching firm is to assist our clients in identifying vendors to support their growth efforts. One of the challenges to selecting the right vendor for your business is not knowing what questions to ask to identify whether or not the vendors services and style meet your needs.

Recently, one of our clients asked us for a  list of questions we use when selecting an accountant. Here’s a recap you may find helpful.

  • Tell me about yourself and your practice.
  • How long have you been in practice?
  • What is your approach or philosophy in working with your clients?
  • What additional support or services do you provide?
  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What would you say are your strengths?
  • Who else might I be working with in your firm?
  • What’s your policy for responding to requests by email or phone?
  • What is your approach to deadlines?
  • What is your rate(s)?
  • What are your billing practices?
  • How do you communicate tax law changes to your clients?

Obviously, the other side of the equation is understanding your needs and style to make sure you’re a good fit for the accounting firm.

What other questions would be good to add? We’d especially love to hear from all the accountants in the audience.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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