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Cheap, Smart, and Trusted

by Randall Craig on February 13, 2007

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Make It Happen Tipsheet,

Tagged as: , ,

How do you compete? Why would someone buy your services? While we may not think of ourselves as “product”, we compete all of the time: for jobs, for acceptance of our ideas, and for personal approval.

Tier one – Price: At the most basic level, you are chosen because you are the cheapest. This clearly isn’t where many of us would like to be, as it is risky: there will always be someone who is willing to shave their price just that much more.

Tier two – Expertise: Because it takes longer to acquire, expertise has greater staying power than price; your guru-hood brings value. The problem, though, is that there will always be others who are fresher and sharper than you are.

Tier three – Trust: At this level, others seek you out because of your independence and objectivity. You may not know all of the answers, but your recommendations, and perspective, have value. You are more than an employee, salesperson, or support engineer: you have earned your credibility and proven your value.

This model makes even more sense when you see the lower tiers as foundational. Without delivering value (tier one), you may not even be considered. Without delivering expertise (tier two), you may not get close enough to develop a trust relationship.  And without developing and delivering trust (tier three), your recommendations will lack credibility and therefore not be implemented. And without implementation, questions arise as to your value – which brings us back to tier one!

If you are looking to sell your services successfully – you can’t do it without expertise and trust. They are scrutinized during the proposal process, and verified through references.

This week’s action plan: Would your organization prefer to be known as the cheapest, the smartest, or the most trusted? To be successful, you must grow all three dimensions.  Too often, we give lip service to trust, but never back it up with time and resources.  This week, honestly assess how your marketing initiative affects each dimension – if you’re not happy with the mix, then make a change.

Personal insight:  As individuals, ironically it is Expertise and Trust that we focus least on, and Price (compensation?) that commands the greatest amount of our personal attention. This week commit to doing one thing that will improve your expertise, and another that will earn trust.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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