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Preview: The Credibility Branding Blog

The Credibility Branding Blog



Your marketing and business resource to accelerate sales through credibility.



Updated: 2008-04-21T13:36:09-07:00

 



Not Buttoned Up? DON'T Launch

2008-04-21T13:36:09-07:00

Here is a perfect example of how the press can crucify your company if you are not ready for the hard answers. This article ran in Adriane Kingsley-Hughs ZDNet blog... Why Psystar will sink without a trace over the next...

Here is a perfect example of how the press can crucify your company if you are not ready for the hard answers. This article ran in Adriane Kingsley-Hughs ZDNet blog...

Why Psystar will sink without a trace over the next few weeks

Posted by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes @ 6:39 am

I thought I’d written all I would on the Mac-clone company Psystar, but I’m back for a little more. While my inner geek thought that what the company had going was interesting, I’m now almost certain that, hoax or not (and I still have no reason to believe that Psystar is a hoax), Psystar will sink without a trace over the next few weeks.   

I’ve given Psystar the benefit of the doubt and cut the company a lot of slack, but I’m now in agreement with Larry Dignan that, at best, the company is run by amateurs. And amateurs that have made some pretty major mistakes at that. You can’t change the address of your company four times in the matter of a few hours without attracting some level of negative attention. You can’t bad-mouth your credit card payment processor and say that it couldn’t handle the volume of transactions when that is a lie. Then switching to PayPal only to have that rug yanked from under them just underlines the clumsy, Clouseauesque way the business is being run. You also can’t dodge simple questions, such as those posed by Brian Caulfield writing for Forbes, without seeming a little suspicious:

Still, Pedraza is short on the sorts of details most startups won’t shut up about. He won’t go on the record about his educational background, detail his professional history or name any previous ventures. The company’s Open Computer is based on a machine put together by his brother (whom he won’t name), he says.

Bottom line, I think that Psystar is going to have a hard time finding a payment processor willing to handle transactions for the Open Computer....

...Given a reasonable 7 to 14 days turnaround for the Mac clones, customers who managed to order systems before Psystar’s credit card processing facility was withdrawn should be seeing their systems delivered next week or the week after. Then we’ll at least know that Psystar is real. But I don’t see even glowing reviews being able to save Psystar now. [For the full story click here]

-----------------------------

So what is the lesson learned from this disastrous PR outing? Be ready for those tough questions. If you don't want to talk about your background then don't be a spokesperson for the company. If your company doesn't have the corporate credibility bring in someone who does and make sure he/she can handle tough media questions. Controversy is not a bad PR strategy, just have good answers to back up what you are doing. This is a typical case of arrogance overcoming strategy.

Be ready to launch... have a media trainer run through the tough questions and strategize the answers, have the best spokesperson be the front person. Make sure your points of credibility are in place (Strong management team, product with a clear ROI, Marquee partners, brand recognized customers or endorsers, and a strong industry trend to leverage) and if not have an answer for the alternatives.




Chris Anderson of Wired Slams PR People - A Response

2007-11-02T12:32:52-07:00

On Tuesday Chris Anderson the editor in chief of Wired magazine wrote a blog complaining about PR people. He has a point there is a significant problem on both sides of the PR equation, editors and PR people alike have... On Tuesday Chris Anderson the editor in chief of Wired magazine wrote a blog complaining about PR  people. He has a point there is a significant problem on both sides of the PR equation, editors and PR people alike have sincere difficulties navigating the current model. Chris went a little to far I think and outed those PR folks who he felt had inappropriately pitched him over just the last 30 days by publishing their emails addresses. This is the power of social media, one can have an emotion and express it immediately on one’s blog. While I don’t think Chris’ tactics were anything short of childish, I do think those same tactics have started a firestorm of open dialog. The blog “bashing” kind of scrappy insults and some truly thoughtful input. Check out the blog post and the over 300 comments it is quite interesting. His reaction and outing might all be worth it to create change. From a personal perspective there is a real down side, I was on that list. I was shocked and surprised but alas there is my email for all to see, spammers et al. It was embarrassing and a real punch in the gut. So why, you are asking am, I sharing this with you? Well because the discussion is worthwhile AND there is a lesson in crisis management. I have talk about the elements of crisis management on this blog, and here I am in one. My email is being blocked by the publications I need to reach, many ISPs took Chris; spamming accusation seriously and I am now black listed on many accounts making my job almost impossible to accomplish. But more importantly my name was besmirched. So what do I do, call Chris a jerk or take responsibility. I was thinking to myself what I would recommend to my clients? It would be to take publicly take responsibility and not offer excuses but look for solutions. So below is that effort. I also posted what you see below as a comment to Chris’ blog becoming another voice as part of the chatter responding the challenges he posed. It was a very nice gesture to receive and email back from Chris this morning, commenting on my comment, he said: “Just a quick note to thank you for the thoughtful comment. One of the best, I thought.” -- Chris My Comment Posted on Chris’ Blog: Mea Culpa. I am on the list. And I have to say I felt shame all morning. I know better, I have been doing this for over 20 years. I even wrote a book. The PR climate is challenging at best these days, but I took a short cut, which will get you in trouble no matter what business you are in. Bottom line is I made an error in judgment and have to face this rather loud unruly music as a result. But I think this dialogue is a good one. We have heard what Chris and many other editors have contributed here. And beyond the comments here I have personally heard from many long time PR folks who are tired of being berated by overworked editors for the methods we use to contact them. I was at a PR function last week and the Los Angeles Times editor said “PR people should be seen and not heard.” Judging from that comment combined with Chris’ blog post the level of respect PR folks can expect from today’s editorial community is quite low indeed. This is not a complaint, it is simply an observation. But it is hard to take sometimes. The PR industry is broken. Here, from my perspective, are some of the challenges today’s PR professionals face: Client budgets are often quite low yet their expectations are off the charts. It is almost impossible to do the level of due diligence that editors are demanding given these smaller budgets. That is not to say that editors should not be demanding the research –of course they should. But should an editor go off the deep end because we sent and iPod pitch instead of a gaming pitch. Well maybe, because at the end o[...]



Websites at "First Glance"sm Optimization

2007-08-27T10:14:40-07:00

By Dr Bill Haig, Guest Contributer Part 1 of 2 The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirement When visitors land on a website, the first thing they do is mentally evaluate in an instant whether they can trust the information... By Dr Bill Haig, Guest Contributer Part 1 of 2 The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirement When visitors land on a website, the first thing they do is mentally evaluate in an instant whether they can trust the information on the site enough to continue.  Like all information, this is a matter of whether or not the source of the information can be trusted to overcome perceptions of risk, uncertainty and even possible identity theft. Trust or no trust happens during the visitor's initial impressions or "first glance" at a website when visitor is still unfamiliar with the vendor.  In people to people interaction, we evaluate the person doing the talking before we accept the person's message. On a website, we evaluate the company behind the information. The company is evaluated at "first glance" during the first three seconds of a website encounter. But on a website, the initial period of trust is not based on personal experience with the vendor. The visitor and vendor do not have a personal relationship history. The visitor makes a trust evaluation on what information, verbal and visual, is available. Otherwise, the vendor is faceless. What do visitors look for during this critical period? Research indicates that perception is done at "first glance" and on the basis of whether the company is considered credible or not.  Further, visitors look for what is termed "surface" cues for credibility. Stanford University web credibility researcher, Dr. B.J. Fogg, describes "surface credibility" as simple inspection of surface traits non-verbally communicated by visual design.  In people to people communication this would be how a person looks, his or her dress, or hairstyle.  Whether the person is neat or sloppy. These are "surface credibility" characteristics.  We often hear the phrase, "you don't get a second chance to make a first good impression."  Why is a first impression of people important? We trust or don't trust the credibility of people upon first meeting. This leads to accepting, or not accepting, what they have to say. The same is true at the moment of "first glance" at a website, except we look at the how credible the company logo and home page looks through non-verbal design elements. In an instant. This is critical for continued website success. The objective is to turn visitors into trusting customers who move on after "first glance" within the website for the purpose of purchasing a product or service.  Wrong imagery. An ambulance company shows its product in Heaven. Why visitors move on. Website studies on visitor use conclude that over seventy per cent of visitors leave at "first glance" if they do not consider a website credible.   On the positive side, my PhD research concluded that four times as many visitors will continue as conversion rate customers if a credibility-based logo is on the company website at "first glance" compared to a non-credible logo. My research supports that of Dr. B.J. Fogg and his Stanford (as in University) Web Credibility Research, (http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/index.html). Savvy website owners have two easy opportunities to look credible and boost visitor website trust at "first glance" to increase conversion rates:  1.    Show that there is a real organization behind the website, as an honest trustworthy company. This is done most effectively with a credibility-based logo design sm representing the company.  The credible company logo is usually [...]



Becoming a Leader

2007-08-22T20:29:42-07:00

Kevin Eikenberry has written a new book on leadership. It's called Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time. And while it sounds like a leadership book, and you may not be in a leadership role, this...



Identifying and Leveraging The Points of Crediblity

2007-08-07T16:39:16-07:00

Companies must work to identify the credibility criteria and ensure that these are incorporated into messaging directed to press, analysts, influencers, and customers. The criteria for success are illustrated by The Credibility Pyramid. (I have had several conversations about his...   Companies must work to identify the credibility criteria and ensure that these are incorporated into messaging directed to press, analysts, influencers, and customers. The criteria for success are illustrated by The Credibility Pyramid. (I have had several conversations about his concept recently so revising an older post.)   Each level of the pyramid is a factor in the perception of credibility and potentially a point of competitive differentiation. Each of these criteria for success is used by editors and analysts, influencers and customers (consciously or not) to determine the validity of a company and its products. Word-of-mouth credibility often starts here. If the foundational perception is continually validated through each level of the pyramid, word-of-mouth credibility soon follows. This model encourages a closer look inward to identify the areas where the company needs to reinforce its standing and authority.   This does not mean manufacturing “spin” but employing a business strategy that enables the company to “be” credible, not “do” credible. This process becomes the starting point for market acceptance and ultimately generates the kind of awareness that influences market perception and acceptance.   When an influencer, analyst, media representative, or venture capital firm is auditing a company, these two core areas (management team and a great product) are the first things they will review, and it is important to have these pieces in place and to have messaging that accurately describes this important information. Oftentimes a company in the early stages of its lifecycle will not place enough importance on these foundational points of credibility. For example, the product may be amazing, but the company executives may not have taken the time to identify the deeper market opportunities or to offer information that expresses the clear benefits and return on investment customers will experience. They may not have clearly articulated the market need; even if the market need may be obvious to the founders, it may not be to the investors, the press, or the influencers you want to attract.   Next on the pyramid is identifying key customers and high-profile partners who can attest to the strengths of the company and its products. These are two crucial criteria for gaining credibility within the press and analyst communities and customers for that matter. If customers like IBM or Coke are saying yes to your product in the corporate world, or well-known influencers like celebrities or industry experts are saying yes in the consumer world, then new customers will say yes and say yes much faster.   Sometimes you might be in a position to pursue or choose the “right” customer, let me give you an example of what that means. I was working with two clients that offered complex technology solutions. We were charged with generating press articles for them to increase the credibility factor and attract customers. One company had done very well with sales and garnered a decent volume of customers. The other had one customer. Now, who do you think got the most press coverage? You would think it would be the one that had a volume of customers, right? It would make sense that more people were buying from that company, so it would seem to be more successful and thus have more credibility. In fact, the client with one customer received the most press articles. That was because that company had a board of directors that had industry luminaries on it, it brought in a CEO who was well known in the industry, and its one customer was one of the top 10 brand names in the world. Having t[...]



Websites at "First Glance" Optimization

2007-08-03T10:41:55-07:00

Another excellent article from Dr. Bill Haig, expert on credibility in logo and web site design: The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirements By Dr. Bill Haig, Powerlogos Design When visitors land on a website, the first thing they do... Another excellent article from Dr. Bill Haig, expert on credibility in logo and web site design: The Logo and Home Page Credibility Requirements By Dr. Bill Haig, Powerlogos DesignWhen visitors land on a website, the first thing they do is mentally evaluate in an instant whether they can trust the information on the site enough to continue. Like all information, this is a matter of whether or not the source of the information can be trusted to overcome perceptions of risk and uncertainty. Trust or no trust happens during the visitor's initial impressions or "first glance" at a website when visitor is still unfamiliar with the vendor. Savvy website owners have two easy opportunities to look credible and boost visitor website trust at "first glance" to increase conversion rates:  1.   Show that there is a real organization behind the website, as an honest trustworthy company. This is done most effectively with a credibility-based logo designsm representing the company.  The credible company logo is usually in the upper left hand corner of the website. Perception theory in communication persuasion suggests that people immediately want to know the source of the message which follows. Just like when we often look first for the name of the person on an envelop or post card.  Similarly, visitors to a website look at the company logo, or search for the company name if there is no logo, at "first glance."  Then, simultaneously, 2. Show that there is a credible organization behind the website with an appropriately designed home page. A company website home page must be designed with the same appropriate credibility traits as in the company logo. This will also give consistency in credibility traits important to the company behind the website.  Logos and home pages are perceived almost simultaneously. Thus, the company credibility-based logo design and the home page design must have a consistency in credibility design "look." For example, the logo cannot have a contemporary design and the home page a dated design. The bottom line is that the whole visitor perception, logo and home page, must communicate credibility to assure the visitor continues at this initial web experience --- at "first glance." These first impressions are key to trust building and continued visitor conversions toward being a customer. Powerlogos Design and Dr. Bill Haig: Powerlogos Design is the only creative and research based logo and home page design firm using proven principles in source credibility in communication persuasion to optimize online visitor to customer conversion rates. We call this Website Optimization at First Glance. The process we use is termed credibility-based logo design and credibility-based website design. Started as an online firm in 2001, Dr. Bill Haig maintains the philosophy that logo and home page design apply proven source credibility principles in communication persuasion. The result is that clients have the assurance that their company logo and home page will be successful at "first glance" giving trust to the website company.  Dr. Haig has over forty years experience in logo design and recently obtained his PhD applying his logo knowledge to website credibility and online testing. He developed a unique online logo and home page testing methodology during three years of university supervised research.  How logo and home page credibility works in graphic design is further explained in several articles on his website, www.powerlogos.com a[...]



Evidence of Credibility Branding in History

2007-07-31T15:38:12-07:00

I am watching a special called Assume the Position 201 with Mr. Wuhl. It looks at the myths in American History. Comedian Robert Wuhl cites an interesting story about how Franklin Pierce the 14th president of the United States) marketed...



Is Sorry a Strategy?

2007-07-30T12:48:07-07:00

What do you do when you did something wrong? The following article by ExecuNet’s Robyn Greenspan brings up some great insights into the changing landscape of crisis management, specifically when is “sorry” not enough. I would like to contribute an...

What do you do when you did something wrong? The following article by ExecuNet’s Robyn Greenspan brings up some great insights into the changing landscape of crisis management, specifically when is “sorry” not enough. I would like to contribute an additional point of view, as a communication specialist I work with how different words that may seam like the same thing actually mean something quite different. For example in the case of “I’m Sorry” vs. “I apologize,” In most instances “I’m Sorry” means “ I am sorry you feel that way” where “I apologize” means the person has take responsibility for their actions and is feeling repentant. The energy of these two approaches can be felt through the tone and the style of the media advisor/press release/web site content. You can definitely sense that the tone of I’m sorry is different and not as forthcoming as an “I apologize” type of approach. So when you are about to have a mea culpa moment reflect on which of these energetic versions you want to use. In fact using “I’m sorry” does have its place especially when it isn’t your fault at all. Regardless all of it affects your brand so think it through.

Is sorry a strategy?
Robyn Greenspan, Senior Editor, ExecuNet Email Newsletter

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, is the latest apologist for his role as an anonymous Internet user who posted negative messages about competitor Wild Oats on financial stock forums. It may seem like a MySpace prank at first — an impulsive action from a high schooler who didn't get a prom date — but Mackey routinely posted on these message boards for eight years.

Mackey's actions were certainly opaque, and his apology seems to represent transparency. But with a recent wave of public "sorries" from visible figures — Paris Hilton, David Neeleman, Don Imus, Mel Gibson and a growing list of politicians — these megawatt mea culpas may no longer suffice. In many cases, the apology seems less about reprehensible actions and more about "I'm sorry I got caught."

While the antics of drunken celebrities, corrupt politicians and greedy corporate executives (Enron, Tyco, etc.) may not surprise us — and may sometimes be expected — Mackey's actions are more disappointing. Whole Foods, like Neeleman's JetBlue, are supposed to be the good guys — socially conscious, friendly, customer-centric companies that care about their employees, the earth and doing what's right.

They both issued very public apologies, but Neeleman's and Mackey's downfalls are decidedly different. The former faced a customer service debacle while the latter deliberately deceived stakeholders; Neeleman absorbed the blame for issues where he may not have been directly responsible and Mackey's consistently poor judgment put his company and — especially its brand — in jeopardy.




Does Advertising Still Work

2007-07-19T01:57:43-07:00

When done right advertising is still an important marketing tool and still works, especially according to a recent study done by MediaWeek. They key is however to have lots of money. If you don't have that, there are all kinds...



Discovering What & Who Your Ideal Client/Customer Is

2007-07-11T21:51:40-07:00

I am a huge fan of Eric Albertson, the advice in his newsletters are spot on and his professionalism is beyond measure. With that I am posting his most recent newsletter verbatim, and check out the info at the end... I am a huge fan of Eric Albertson, the advice in his newsletters are spot on and his professionalism is beyond measure. With that I am posting his most recent newsletter verbatim, and check out the info at the end for his workshop it is worth looking into (No affiliate programs here just admiration)! This pretty much covers the steps, there  is a depth of strategy that is behind this and could be applied a bit more, but this sums it up nicely. Success Tips Newsletter - In this issue: Case study: question from a reader by Eric Albertson www.SucceedingInBusiness.com    The question: I'd like to talk with you this week about the profile of my ideal client. Until I took your Marketing Fast Track class, I would have said, everybody with more than 5 staff can use our services, therefore everyone is a target, right? My guess is: "Wrong."  I would like to clear this up and set up my elevator speech as clearly as possible.  I am the guy who sets all the appointments for my firm; everyone is counting on me for sales appointments. I know that I need to narrow my target market and tighten up my message but I am not clear on the best way to do this. Today I rely heavily on cold calling, seminars and networking to create leads. It is lots of work for relatively few leads and fewer sales. The website we have is a shambles, it creates no leads. We do quite well out of referrals but considering we have a 500+ client base I am sure we could do a bit better. What steps do I need to take to quickly get into action and get better results? Eric's Response First, I would figure out some basic characteristics of who has purchased from your firm in the past (industry, turnover a.k.a. annual revenue, what they bought, how long they have been a customer, etc) and chart that out. Consider the fictional example: 80 percent of our buyers come from four types of      businesses:      1. Import/export firms      2.  Freight forwarders      3.  Drayage operations      4.  Port storage operators They average 200 employees per firm They are usually 20+ years old They have at least $10 million in annual revenues They are all on the East Coast They are all growing slower than the rest of their      industry Describe your top three ideal clients, according to what the customer data suggests: Example East Coast import-export firms, averaging at least $10 million per year in revenue, who are struggling to grow as fast as the rest of their industry. Next, build a list of everyone who looks like your ideal clients. The library is a great place to start. Get as many on the list as you can. Next, I would take a quick inventory of the testimonials and stories you have from your ideal clients. If you don't have two to five testimonials and two or more stories for each ideal client, get more as soon as possible. Inventory the top three problems your company addressed for each ideal customer and the top three aspirations or goals each had. Now list the outcomes each ideal customer sought when engaging your firm, and the results they got. (They did keep buying didn't they?) For example: · Wanted to grow faster than our industry · Reduce our turnover · Increase our net margin · And so on. Next, build an inventory of 15 - 25 benefits you offer each member of your ideal customer set. Now create two to five statements that make the case for why your firm is able to address these needs and aspirations. [...]