When marketers talk shop, they cover all of these topics and more besides, but I wonder how often the term “assumption of competence” comes up.

I heard the phrase from an unlikely source, as far as marketing goes – the leader of a local rock band. In addition to singing backup, I also lend a hand with “street” and social marketing for the group. Last week, we were up against a deadline to get some gig posters produced, delivered, and distributed. Though I was unable to reach the band leader, I found a way to get him what he needed. When we finally connected, he said that he’d had an assumption of competence that kept him from wasting even a single minute worrying about the situation. He just went on about his day knowing that things would be handled.

Think about that for a minute.

Now imagine if your brand could instill that kind of confidence – that “assumption of competence” – in your customers. How much do you think your busy clients would value a product or service that was so rock solid they never had to give it a second thought? Think about your day – how much time to you spend following up on what other people or companies are doing – making sure that everyone is doing what they promised, when they promised, how they promised. How much time do you spend working out contingency plans in case something doesn’t go the way you’d hoped? How often does something going awry elicit an I-knew-this-would-happen response?

The best thing about the assumption of competence is that no one can take it away from you. Brand equity can be damaged by bad press; market position can slip; competitors can undercut you on price, mimic feature sets, and develop proprietary technology of their own; and even the most loyal customers can be lured away by special offers and incentives. But who can replace peace of mind? If you can do what it takes to consistently over-deliver on your promises, you will cultivate an assumption of competence that will leave your competitors in the dust.

The two assets most tightly tied to this concept are quality human resources and impressive customer service. Each of these is critical to engendering trust – trust that you are who you say you are and that you will be good on your word. There is no magic formula for translating these assets into assumed competence. Much like building social equity, it’s a matter of talking the talk and walking the walk over time. Shortcuts don’t apply here.

What do you think? Does your brand work to cultivate an assumption of competence? What roadblocks have you faced and how have you overcome them? What types of successes have you experienced?

Photo credit: hey skinny on Flickr

More posts by Jamie.

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