What Builds and Destroys Credibility?

(Episode 2 of 2 with Mitchell Levy)

What Builds and Destroys Credibility?

Welcome back to another episode with Mitchell Levy, a credibility expert. In the last episode, we discussed three ways we can become credible internally. Today, we will define credibility and discuss things that build and hurt our credibility. 

Key Takeaways

In today’s episode, we will cover the following key takeaways:

  1. Credibility is the quality in which we are known, liked, and trusted.
  2. To build our credibility we should focus on providing value to our customers. 
  3. In order to provide value, we should have a common language and focus on finding the right customers. 
  4. Sharing our thoughts and ideas with our customers, and having respect can build our credibility. 
  5. The small actions we take that hurt our credibility can do a lot of damage when they are added together over time. 

The Definition of Credibility 

The dictionary definition of credibility focuses on trust. The Oxford dictionary defines it as, the quality of being trusted and believed in.” However, Mitchell believes that is only one-third of the essence of credibility. He has redefined credibility as the quality in which we are known, liked, and trusted.

To be credible, someone doesn’t just need to trust us. They also need to know and like us. Once we get to know someone or a brand, we can get to really know them. 

“I need to know [a brand’s] intent and commitment to do the right thing. I need to actually know their internal integrity and once I get to trust somebody, and I get to know them a little bit more, then I could decide if I like them,” Mitchell said. 

What builds my credibility?

Mitchell shared five ways we can build our credibility: 

  1. Provide Value

To build our credibility we should focus on providing value to our customers. As we provide value and exceed expectations, our credibility increases. The value we provide is the proof needed to establish true credibility.

In this case, the value we are referring to is not the monetary value of the product we send, but the perceived value. For example, a gym membership may only be valued at $35 a month. However, the perceived value is higher. Because a gym membership helps people stay in shape, and improves their mental and physical health, the perceived value is much higher. 

“If you want to be credible, you need to be able to articulate who you are and how you serve people,” Mitchell said. We have to show our customers that we have something that will add value to their lives. 

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  2. Have a Common Language

In order to provide value, we should have a common language. 

“Providing value is first making sure people are speaking the same language,” Mitchell said. We should talk to our customers in words they understand and use daily. What common phrases or keywords are they searching in Google? What vocabulary do they use in their typical conversations? 

  3. Find the Right People

We should also make sure we are providing the right value to the right people. Who are our customers? Who are our followers? Are we giving them something they want? We don’t want to try to sell our products or services to everyone. Instead, we should find our niche group, the people we can really help, and sell to them. 

“[When you] deliver good value to the audience that needs to receive it and benefits from it, . . . they talk about you. You get endorsements and can do endorsement marketing. You get word of mouth marketing, and they will recommend you to others,” Mitchell said. 

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  4. Share Thoughts and Ideas

We want to share our thoughts and ideas with our customers. When our thoughts and actions are shared by our customers, this creates what Mitchell calls “cred dust.” He believes thought leadership and finding commalites with our customers can boost our credibility like “magic.”

  5. Show Respect

Mitchell also believes that showing respect to our customers can build our credibility. It is another form of “cred dust.”

“Show respect by showing up when you show up,” he said. “That often means coming early, coming prepared to come in with your heart. . . . If you want to be likable in business, essentially share credit dust, and show respect for those you interact with.”

What hurts my credibility? 

The actions that hurt our credibility are what Mitchell calls “cred crud.” He said, “[They are the types of things that you do that hurt your credibility that don’t necessarily put you out of the equation. But, [as] you start adding those things together [and] start having more and more ‘cred crud’ in how you show up, you will ultimately put yourself out of business.”

The small actions we take that hurt our credibility can do a lot of damage when they are added together over time. While a small typo on our website may not do too much damage to our credibility by itself, it can do a lot of damage when matched with unprofessional social media channels or other forms of “cred crud.” 

“Think of it as going to the dentist. If you have a little bit of plaque you’re not guaranteed cavities, but the more plaque you add, the more cavities [you get],” Mitchell said. 

Here are a few others ways we can damage our credibility:

  • Bad website copy
  • An unprofessional LinkedIn profile
  • An outdated social media profile photo
  • Grammar mistakes 
  • Negative reviews
  • Overpromising and under-delivering
  • Not being yourself 
  • Pretending to have external integrity without internal integrity 
  • And more

We have to watch out for the small ways we can hurt our credibility. If we don’t catch them and fix them right away, over time our customers will lose trust in us. 

Connect with Mitchell

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

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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