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Accountable communications

What are accountable communications?

It simply means giving a message that is justified and that you are willing to stand by.

For many jaded consumers, the marketing message in many ads and business materials is not trusted because there have been too many hyped up, false promises in the past. And people understand that marketing companies use many techniques to support their message .

To make sure your message is seen as trustworthy and is accountable

  • avoid exaggerations (the occasional obvious one may work)
  • justify any claims
  • only give it in appropriate ways (i.e. don’t spam or annoy people)
  • check the details
  • use an appropriate look – colours, layouts, font sizes and so on all influence how your message is perceived. For example, the long letter with yellow highlights style of webpage doesn’t build trust in Australians as much as it appears to in the USA

What messages have you seen that didn’t come across as accountable or reliable?

Can you justify what you write/say?

To develop sufficient trust in you, people have to have a sense of your integrity and credibility. Obviously, you have to be honest in order to show integrity.

Yet so many people claim things as part of their marketing and headings – things that sound great and attract attention. But if those things are not completely true, people lose faith in you when they find out.

Is your product/business really the biggest, fastest, easiest, most popular, smallest, most colourful or best value? If you aren’t sure or can’t justify it, think about how people will view it when they discover your claims were wrong?

How do you feel when you buy the “longest lasting torch” and it fails the first night you go camping?

The ones that really annoy me are “We’re Australia’s number 1” and similar. Who judged them to be number one? I also wonder what criteria goes with number one or the best at (number one in the list of businesses owned by them? number one of that service provider in their suburb?)

Of course, if you are listed as number one by some independent way, say so! For example, you’ll see big companies use a big heading “we’re number one at service*” and in smaller print define “as ranked by XYZ” or “according to ABC.”

So next time you think of making a great claim, or a marketing person suggests it, think about your credibility and repeat business. If it is a justifiable claim, great! If it may be questioned, perhaps add the justification to your ad or to your site/blog. If it is inaccurate, think twice about it.

Use your words wisely!