Cool towns: Credibility – do people believe you?

Part four in looking at Made to Stick’s Six Principles of Sticky Ideas on how to build cool places

The fourth principle is Credibility. Why should people believe you? How do you handle the skeptics? Are you providing the details, vivid statistics, a proven example or a testable credential (try before you buy) that help people accept your ideas as truthful?

How is the cool town beta community program credible, believable, legitimate? Sure, there are telling statistics from Dr. Richard Florida; nearly 1000 entries on this website alone detailing examples and trends; and countless examples of sustaining success tied to co-design (Wikipedia, Lego, Staples) and walkable, mixed-use communities (Manhattan, London, Paris, Madison WI).

However, the most credible characteristic is showing that you’re listening to beta community members throughout the program, and it’s hard to be more credible to a customer than when you’re producing what they want. If you’re building your own custom home or growing your own business, that’s as credible to yourself as you can get. It’s not often that you hear of someone being skeptical of their own business. Now just apply to a city block, and as the image shows, provide increasingly detailed evidence that you’re indeed co-developing the product with the beta community (graphic from software engineer and best-selling author Kathy Sierra”.)

The credibility of the beta community itself is further enhanced by those who have experienced such communities first-hand, which is related to why so many supporters of cool towns have either lived or traveled abroad.

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