Why Transparency Matters in Marketing

When it comes to marketing, the way we choose to communicate and present ourselves plays a huge role, especially in the current age of technology where consumers are inundated with ads and information every five seconds. As marketers, we want to make sure that the consumers within our targeted demographics choose to come to us for their needs, wants, and interests. If we want consumers to choose us, then we need to give them a reason to choose us. Many professionals have found that “playing it safe” with professional language and business jargon can actually alienate their audiences. If you are considering your audience for your social media posts, articles, and other marketing platforms, it is important to be able to engage with them. With the onslaught of advertising, the most successful businesses and individuals are the ones who engage with their patrons in ways that are authentic and fun. Consumers often choose companies that they can trust and that they feel connected to. Transparency goes a long way with current and future customers.

The marketing industry has a bit of a bad rap for being sneaky and manipulative, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you are probably going to get a lot more long-term business by being upfront and honest about your business practices than you are if you leave your consumers feeling hoodwinked because they didn’t read the fine print. So what is transparent marketing? Shel Holtz defines transparency as “the degree to which a company shares its leaders, employees, values, culture, strategy, business processes, and the results of those processes with its publics. It’s the opposite of opacity, in which companies operate behind closed doors and shuttered windows.”

We all know of situations when companies have been less than transparent in their businesses. One example might be when Wells Fargo created millions of accounts on behalf of their clients without their consent. The company addressed these concerns with an ad called Earning Your Trust that came across as being less than sincere to consumers. When Uber was associated with sexual harassment charges, they released their video, Moving Forward, to address these issues. The more Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, engaged with the issue head-on, the more consumers were able to trust that their concerns were being addressed and taken seriously. According to a study done by Label Insight, “94 percent of those surveyed are more likely to be loyal to brands that are transparent. The study also found that 56 percent of respondents would stay loyal to a brand for life if it was completely transparent.” Transparency is always important, not just when faced with negative publicity.

Think of all the brands and companies that you love. I can bet that near the top of the list of reasons why you love them is the fact that you love what they stand for and what they do. People love Starbucks because they strive for ethically sourced coffee. Toms grew in popularity because not only are the shoes comfortable, but they represent a cause that people can get behind (while getting something for themselves as well). Another example is the Spark Notes Twitter account, which has branded itself with a humorous, snarky tone that lends itself to authenticity. Transparency is becoming the standard of marketing—it’s what consumers want to see.

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