Rebel Uprising Podcast

How Do You Know Who To Trust


There’s a game Maggie Patterson, my co-host of Duped, plays with me all the time. It’s called “Can I Tell What Makes You an Expert?”

We go to an about page of someone who’s doling out advice like candy on Instagram and see if we can tell why they’re credible to speak on this topic.

If we can figure it out, great! They earn our respect and trust.

But nine times out of ten, I have no clue why they are credible to do the work they do or say the things they say.

It’s no wonder it’s so easy to be duped and burned in the online space.

Real experts who know what they’re doing and how to help you are hard to find online, but pseudo-experts are freaking everywhere.

So how do you know who to trust online? How do you vet them? And if you’re thinking about hiring a messaging strategist, what should you be looking for?



In this episode:

  • Three questions to ask when you’re vetting a program or offer
  • How to gauge factors of trust–care, sincerity, reliability, and competence–in messaging strategists
  • Red flags to watch out for in promised results, timelines, and testimonials
  • Why you should steer clear of anyone who promises you “magnetic messaging”

Learn more about Michelle Mazur:



Listen on your favorite podcast player or read the Transcript below:


Dr. Michelle Mazur: There's a game I like to play. Well, actually, Maggie Patterson, my co-host of Duped plays it with me all the time. It's called Can I Tell What Makes You an Expert? This is where we go to an about page of someone who is dolling out advice like candy on Instagram, and see if we know why they are credible to speak on this topic. If we can figure it out, they earn our respect and trust. But nine times out of 10, I have no mother loving clue why they are credible to do the work they do, or say the things they say.

No wonder it's so easy to be duped and burned in the online space. Real experts who know what the hell they're doing and how to help you are hard to find online, but pseudo experts, man, they are everywhere. So, let's talk about how do you know who to trust online, and how can you go about vetting them. And if you're thinking about hiring a messaging strategist to work with, what should you be looking for? So, let's dive in.

Get ready for the Rebel Uprising podcast. The only podcast dedicated to business owners who feel overlooked for their expertise, skills and experience. Let's claim your expertise and turn your complex ideas into unmistakable messaging that grows your business. I am your host, Dr. Michelle Mazur, the author of the 3 Word Rebellion and your rebel truth-telling guide to building a business that gets noticed.

In the season three finale of Duped, the Dark Side of Online Business. Maggie and I talked about how to vet programs and offers, and I'll hook you up with a link to that episode in the show notes. And by the way, Duped Season four is out now.

So, from this episode on vetting, we had three big recommendations. The first one was to know why the person you're hiring is credible. Recommendation number two, be wary of testimonials. Be aware of survivorship bias, and most testimonials are only showing you the top 1% of the results that people achieve. And then finally, test for believability. On the face of it, do you believe the claims the person hiring you is making? Is there evidence to back it up beyond the testimonials? And those are all great ways to vet. You should totally check out the episode, and I wanted to go deeper in how to vet someone like me, a messaging strategist, using Charles Feltman's four factors of trust; care, sincerity, reliability, and competence.

Now, you might be wondering why I'm teaching you how to vet other messaging people and not just saying you should hire me. And the simple reason is I am not the best choice for everyone, and I can't work with everyone. And when I see people getting burned by other messaging folks, and they are duped out of a lot of money and they do not see a return, or sometimes the deliverables don't even show up, it harms the reputation of my industry.

So, if I can help you better vet messaging folks because I feel like everyone this year is now an expert in messaging, I will do it because I don't care if you hire me. I would love it if you want to have that conversation, but the thing I do care about is that you get your messaging handled because we have an urgent need for experts who know what the fuck they're doing to be hired by others. It's going to help the industry as a whole.

What's really funny after I said all of that is that I realized that by saying that, I am really demonstrating the first factor of trust which is care. So, let's talk about vetting for care. As a reminder, according to Charles Feltman's Thin Book of Trust, care is the assessment that you have the other person's best interest in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions.

So, to me, this is the hardest one to vet. My advice is to slow down. Watch how the person you are thinking of hiring treats other people. Are they demonstrating care? Do they have their audiences' best interests in mind, or is it just the successful few who pay them a lot of money they really care about? And if you're talking to someone, how do you feel in a sales conversation with them? Do they genuinely want to help you? Do they want to help you make the best decision for your business? Or do they just want your credit card. Take stock of the content they're creating. Are they pressing on pain points and making you feel bad and shameful about the things that are happening, or are they just acknowledging your reality and making it okay saying, "Yeah, I empathize. I see what's going on here, and that just really sucks."

So, look for care. And then, look for sincerity. Feltman says, "Sincerity is the assessment that you are honest, that you say what you mean, and mean what you say. You can be believed and taken seriously." Whew. And this one, my friends, you can completely vet for. I think, things like overblown promises, which I talked about in the last episode, testimonials that are all about the money, too-good-to-be-true claims, that's not being sincere. You really do want to test for believability.

Now, for me, I am very clear that messaging is a long-term strategy, and I know exactly what results come quickly for my clients and what other results take longer. Because there are some messaging people who will promise you to, like, add $10,000 in recurring revenue every month by making your messaging better, or fill out your whole client roster. Now, I know my clients can fill out their own client roster, but that's going to take about six months to a year of being consistent. That is a long term result of the messaging work. Whereas the short term results is that, oh, it's easier to market themselves. They're spending less time creating marketing materials, or they feel more confident when they show up to sales calls, or they feel confident when they sit down to write an email to their list because they have clarity. They start getting feedback like, "Oh, yeah, that makes sense. Tell me more." And it's easier for people to say yes to them on sales calls.

Those things happen pretty quickly, but there are other long-term things. It's just going to take a while, and that's okay. Most of the work that you and I do, it has short term and long term results. We just need to be sincere, and clear, and honest about what those things are.

If you are listening to this podcast and realizing that, "Hey, you know what, I'm not having the sales that I want to have. My business isn't generating the revenue it should be generating." Then, it might be time for you to work on your message and figure out that comprehensive strategy for how to build that argument for your work and turn people who don't know you at all into people who are ready and willing to sign up to work with you. And this is exactly the work we do in the 3 Word Rebellion Messaging Intensive. So, if you're digging this episode and you're thinking, "Yes, this is my next step," or "It could be my next step," then I encourage you to go to, the number three, wr. That's, and apply for a free consultation call. That way, you and I can discuss if messaging is the right move for your business. Now, back to the show.

The third factor, reliability. As a reminder, this is the assessment that you meet the commitments that you make, that you keep your promises. To me, when you're thinking about working with a messaging strategist, get clear on what they are going to deliver to you and when it will be a delivered. I see a lot of vaguery when it comes to this. Is vaguery a word? I hope it is. It's great. But people aren't intentionally vague.

I've seen everything promised from a Google doc with your best turns [inaudible 00:10:44] for a mere $10,000 to no mention of a deliverable at all. And messaging is a service. You should get something at the end that you can lay your digital hands on. So, ask what is the deliverable and when will it be delivered. Are there different deliverables throughout? So, are there milestones you're going to reach where you're going to get some kind of interim deliverable? Ask all of that.

For me, I deliver a brand message guide and you can see exactly what that looks like. I'll hook a video up for you in the show notes, but you can see what it looks like. And also ask people, how do your clients use their deliverable? Like, I can go to a client's website and point out the messaging that that client and I co-created so that they can see the message in action. But get clear on the deliverable and make sure they have a reputation of actually delivering it.

The final factor of trust, competence. Feltman says that competence is the assessment you have the ability to do what you are doing or propose to do. In the workplace, this usually means others believe you have the requisite capacity, skills, knowledge, and resources to do a particular task or job. You want to hire a real expert, and this means looking at their about page, playing the game that Maggie Patterson and I play about what makes them credible for doing the work. And here's some things that you should look for when you're going to hire someone to do messaging for you.

You want someone with communication experience. Full stop. Maybe it was corporate comms, maybe they have a PhD, maybe they spent years honing their craft, developing their own framework, but they have experience in communication. I see too many messaging people with no real comms experience. And just because you have a mouth hole and you can listen and take notes in a Google doc does not make you a messaging expert.

There are so many persuasion theories and messaging process theories that inform the work that messaging people do, and you want an expert to have that knowledge at their fingertips, in their brain. You want them to be practiced and experienced because what they create is fundamental to your business. It is the outward representation of what you do, and who you serve, and how you're different in the world, so make sure they know what the heck they're doing.

Because I see too many people who are like, "Oh, I was an accountant in a past life and now I do messaging." And I'm just like, "What makes you credible to do that? I know why you're credible to be an accountant. You've got that CPA, but I don't know what makes you credible to be someone I can trust with messaging."And I feel like another red flag that this person might be a pseudo expert is the term magnetic messaging. It is all over, and I see so many so-called messaging people using this term. It's a huge red flag because, A, they're not being different if everybody else is using it. How are they going to help you with your unique selling proposition when they can't even help themselves, right? Do they not know how magnets work? Seriously. Magnets have a north pole and a south pole, and those opposite poles are attracted to each other, or as Paula Abdul said in the 80's, opposites attract. So, do you want someone who is your opposite in your business? Do you want a client who is in total opposition to you? No. No. You don't want a magnetic message. And I just feel like this is a red flag because messaging people should be obsessed with words, and the meaning of words, and using words accurately. So, there's my little side rant about magnetic messaging and why that should be a red flag. There are plenty of messaging folks who don't use that. Find one of them.

So, my final thought here is to slow down before you hire. Do your due diligence. Think about competence, reliability, sincerity, and care. And if you trust me and you want to find out more about working with me to create that foundational message for your business, you can always book a consult call at

If the Rebel Uprising Podcast is helping you claim and communicate your expertise so that your clients can find and hire you, please share the show with a friend. The easiest way to do that is through PodLink. You can find the show at, and that page will allow anyone you share the show with to subscribe and start listening in their favorite podcast player. That's

The Rebel Uprising Podcast is a production of Yellow House Media. Our production coordinator is Lou Blazer. Our production assistant is Emily Kildef. The podcast is edited by Steven Mills. Our executive producers are Sean and Tara McMullen. The Rebel Uprising Podcast is recorded on the unseated traditional land of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish people, original stewards of the land, past and present.

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