The Trust-o-meter: A ‘Black Hat’ story

In my blog, Heroes and Villains I explained how I believed ‘Black Hat’ and ‘White Hat’ techniques weren’t just restricted to SEO practices. In my opinion, they’re indicative of the overall ethics of a company.

Which way is the needle pointing?

I’ve always said that in my head I have a sort of ‘Trust-O-Meter’ that gives me a ‘gut feel’ about how trustworthy a person or company is. Getting to know them can help move the needle towards trust, as can testimonials and other positive third-party stories. However. it can take a long time to ‘Know, like and trust’ someone, which is why I’ve worked hard to establish trusted Pixooma partnerships that I can rely on – a vital requirement when we guarantee every project that involves them.

You’re going the wrong way!

The needle on this Trust-O-Meter in my head generally only moves slowly in the first few encounters with a new contact, as the information is limited. Sometimes though, people inadvertently show their true colours from the first instance which pushes the needle very decisively towards ‘untrustworthy’. Examples include:

  1. Going straight for a pushy sales pitch without getting to know you, or what your needs might be
  2. Badmouthing their existing clients or betraying confidential conversations
  3. Promoting snake-oil techniques and ‘tricks’ to guarantee more business
  4. Bragging about how they made enormous profits from a customer, using rather dubious practices

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot…

Sometime ago I met a print-broker at an event and he boasted about how despite knowing nothing about websites he’d charged a client around £2000 for a ‘bespoke website’, which was actually an off-the-shelf WordPress theme he’d bought for a tiny fraction of what he charged his customer. This method only had one advantage – quick, substantial profits. It had numerous disadvantages though:

  1. The client may ask for changes to the website structure or functionality. He’s going to struggle to do this, as it isn’t his core skill
  2. At some point they’ll request something he just can’t solve and then his duplicity will become obvious
  3. They won’t react well to the idea they paid over 10x the price for something that they could have effectively purchased and installed themselves

Not only was he a ‘Black Hat’ operative, but also he naively assumed I’d be impressed by his boast. I wasn’t.

Trust your gut (and check their hat)

When selecting an agency to act as your creative partner, I would advise that you gather reviews and recommendations from those you trust. And when talking to new contacts (no matter what service they provide), listen to your own Trust-O-Meter, and don’t feel pressured to rush into a new arrangement. Our Graphic Design Survey has revealed that although there are a wealth of excellent agencies and freelancers, not all of them are as ethical as they should be. Some respondents were let down by:

  1. Slow or poor delivery
  2. Failing to live up to their promised standards
  3. Trying to manipulate clients for their own gain.

Our focus at Pixooma is always customer-first and we are always happy to have a no-obligation meeting about your project, and working with us is risk-free as you are fully protected by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, so why not give us a call?



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