Why does it bother us so much when a politician says one thing and does another? Or when a commercial suggests something is tastier or easier to use than it actually is? Why do we feel cheated a product, service or experience doesn’t live up to our expectations—even if it offers us something of similar quality? The friction between the message and the reality creates mistrust.
“You’re never a number,” doesn’t square with the practice of assigning a prospect an application number. Large group tours drain credibility from a “small classes” message. Jargon, clunky writing and funky grammar detract from the desire to convey the impression that your organization delivers a high-quality education.
You can’t even see the alignment problem unless you think about the prospect’s experience of your admissions process. And even then, they can be fuzzy if you don’t also consider the context—your brand in the marketplace along with the brands of your competitors.
The more tightly aligned your practices are to your messages, the more successful your story will be. But you also have to be authentic. If you can’t walk the talk, maybe it’s better to talk about something else.