It’s the new thing in marketing, transparency (it can also be referred to as relationship marketing). It’s not a buzzword that will fade after a few months or a year. It’s here to stay, at least that’s what we believe at MARKIT Group. We see the growth of transparency in business and marketing as a great step forward. For a while, people saw marketers, salesmen, advertisers, and huge corporations as shady individuals looking to make a quick buck. Sure, there are some people like that still around and they won’t ever go away. But the trend towards transparency is making those shady people a smaller and smaller percentage of the whole pie.
What is this “transparency” that we keep talking about? Let’s give a quick example to help show what we mean. We all know Chipotle, that delicious provider of burritos. They make clear that they use the best ingredients possible. Back in 2013, the company became the first to label when GMOs are present in their ingredients. This is not mandatory, it’s voluntary to do so. The company could hide this information, the public would likely never know. But being transparent about the presence of GMOs in their products makes customers trust them more. Customers now have the ability to look at a Chipotle burrito and feel confident that they know what is in it.
This is contrary to many fast food chains like McDonalds, where the origin of ingredients is largely a secret, and people joke about where the chicken nuggets actually come from. People still buy from McDonalds, but there are those who don’t because they worry about the ingredients. When one of Chipotle’s carnitas supplier was found to be violating the company’s animal welfare standards they suspended purchase of all meat from that supplier. They announced this to the public and cut off the availability of the meat from a third of their restaurants. This likely lost them quite a bit of money, but it gained something you can’t buy….consumer trust.
So how can you implement transparency into your marketing strategy? You can start by engaging with customers in a natural, human way. That means to talk to them like you’d talk to a friend, not as a brand or business. You can use slang, casual wording, anything to make you sound less corporate. By engaging with customers, you can start gaining trust. That means you really need to listen to them. If you get a negative comment, don’t go and delete it right away (unless it’s something inflammatory or derogatory, that is up to your discretion). If someone leaves a negative review about your business, possibly complaining about the price or the way an employee handled their interaction, you should go in and address it in public. This will show that your business is not hiding anything, you accept negative criticism and implement this feedback.
Many successful web-based business post their financials. Not necessarily the nitty-gritty numbers, but they will post their revenue, costs, and profits. Moz.com publishes their Year in Review which goes over their investments, team, financials, and more. It’s a great way to show customers that they aren’t afraid to be open. Many huge privately owned businesses would never think of publishing their financials online voluntarily. Although these numbers don’t make or break Moz.com, it’s just one way to show that they value transparency.
There are plenty of ways you can be transparent in your business. Maybe you are a restaurant, you could do something similar to Chipotle and share in-depth information about your ingredients and where they come from. As a clothing store, you can share how your clothes are made and in what country. Consumers are going to start looking to companies that share this information, and will shy away from businesses that hide it. Stay ahead of the trend and show your customers how much you value their trust.