Credible Endorsements

Some time ago I was wandering around a market and came across a stall selling sunglasses. You remember when it was common for a certain type of packaged good, usually cheap electricals that had a single infomercial slot to their name, to have those little "as seen on TV!!" starbursts? Well, these sunglasses had a similar endorsement printed on the packaging, which I'll come back to in a moment.

Knowing when and how to feature endorsements for your product, your service or yourself is a tricky skill. I now regularly see LinkedIn profiles where the author has jokingly listed amongst their accomplishments "Joint Winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize" or sites where some artistic type feels bold enough to proclaim that their work has been "featured worldwide" when what they actually mean is that they have a blog and it's viewable worldwide. The potential for credibility miss-steps is immense.

When thinking about endorsements you have to consider such questions as:

  • Is a single endorsement impressive or does it just indicate that you only have one customer (who may or may not be a relative)?
  • Do multiple endorsements indicate popularity or desperation?
  • Are endorsements from people or organisations hardly anyone has heard of indicative of your caring attitude towards small businesses or irrelevance in the larger market?
  • Should you feature stunningly good endorsements from companies that have subsequently gone out of business or been acquired and re-branded?

Of course endorsements are only one of many routes to product/service credibility, which is a relief if, like me, you operate in an industry where endorsements do not happen (more on that in another post).

Some endorsements can backfire by stretching credibility beyond the point where the target audience will believe them, even when they're true. And some endorsements are so ridiculous you're not sure if the intent was to deceive the really stupid or charm the knowingly amused, such as my sunglasses with their happy declaration on the packaging that they were "As seen on the Internet!".

I'm still not sure if was a joke.