Credibility in Small Business Marketing: More Than Being Grammatically Correct

February 25, 2015 / by Paige Gilbert

We love all of our clients, but one that is especially dear to our hearts is The Hignell Companies, a full service property management company. We’ve been helping Hignell with small business marketing for many years now and have developed a trusting relationship with the decision makers of the company. Back in 2010 or so, the team decided that the marketing for the apartment rental properties Hignell manages needed some new life of its own. When we found that the URL was available, we snatched it up and Living in Chico, a local apartment rental site launched by The Hignell Companies was born!

The site was created in response to the question: How can searching for an apartment on the internet be more enjoyable? You have to admit, searching online for an apartment isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of a good time. But the Living in Chico website could be different – it could be funner! Yes, that’s right – funner! Of course, not everyone sitting around the conference table that day “funner” was brought up thought so. But after some coaching and persuading, we agreed that “funner” could be used if  - and only if – it included an asterisk that said: *We know that “funner” isn’t a word, but let’s face it, it’s way more fun.


Unfortunately, there are other people who don’t exactly feel the same way about the Living in Chico tagline. We actually get hate-mail from people about it. In the years that “funner” has been in existence, we’ve probably only received a dozen responses about people actually being upset about the word “funner,” but it’s important to ask why people actually get so heated about it and take the time to write a scathing response.

A few people at Hignell originally had pushbacks about using “funner” because it wasn’t grammatically correct. The negative responses we get once in a great while usually like to highlight our incompetency and ignorance of the English language. I wonder if the creators of the “Got Milk?” campaign or Apple’s “Think Different” (grammatically correct would be “Think Differently”) slogan get the same kind of responses? I’ll admit, as a writer, editor and lover of words, spelling errors and bad grammar in marketing are a big pet peeve of mine, especially when they could have been avoided by another set of eyes proofreading. But if the company is already credible – like Apple – then I don’t mind that their slogan is technically not grammatically correct.

Credibility of course goes beyond just proofreading. If you’re going to be a credible company and credible in your small business marketing, there are pieces and parts of your business you need to evaluate. In his book, “Speed of Trust” author Stephen Covey refers to 4 core pieces of credibility needed to build trust in marketing.

1. Integrity

Is what you say and what you do the same thing? When a company is marketing and branding itself everything it says and does should be consistent. The little things really do matter. When Living in Chico receives a negative comment about the word “funner” it lives up to its tagline and responds with this:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the use of the word “funner.” We know there is a kid in all of us that needs to come out sometimes and just be silly and have fun. That’s why we use the word “funner.” We appreciate that language is fluid and words are constantly evolving into new words. *For example: Teenagers these days think it’s hecka cool to chillax and conversate with their peeps (but not their frenemys!). See what we mean? We know funner isn’t a word, but we think it’s just way more fun to say and that makes us smile!
All of us at Living in Chico hope you have a fantabulous day!

2. Intent
What’s your agenda? A credible business has the intent to make a good profit and take care of its customers. The best way to do that is when what you are doing and what you are telling people you’re going to do is aligned with what they want. Living in Chico wants to make the process of apartment searching easier and more fun for people. So, as part of the small business marketing, it has an interactive website, video tours, an apartment living blog, and easily downloadable offers helping people with the application process, the basics of renter’s insurance, a cleaning checklist, etc.

3. Capabilities
How well does your company do something? Capabilities refer to skills. In terms of small business marketing, being capable and competent helps you create good messaging and provide a good product. The Living in Chico website is easy to navigate, kept up to date, rarely goes offline, and provides helpful information.

4. Results
Can you deliver? Is your company delivering on its promise and is the customer getting what they want? Living in Chico customers want to find an apartment. The website provides a place for them to do that, but even beyond the website, the Living in Chico brand is reflected at the apartment properties too through the integrity of the apartment managers, staff and residents.

When it comes to your company and small business marketing, credibility is so much more than an intentionally made up word – it’s building trusting relationships with your customers. It’s your responsibility as a business owner to strengthen your company’s credibility by doing what you say and saying what you do. It will make the journey of building trust a lot more funner!

Since 2002, Half a Bubble Out has been dedicated to providing marketing, advertising and small business consulting that meet the needs of our clients. We specialize in powerfully telling stories through inbound marketing to grow your business filled with more passion and provision. Based in Chico California, we serve clients throughout Northern California and across the country to New York.

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Topics: Marketing, Passion & Provision

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