One of the qualities that makes the marketing world fun and exciting is that the definition of “good marketing” is always changing. Consumers change, the market changes, the brand changes, and businesses need to consistently be staying a step ahead and looking for the next “buzzword” in marketing, the next trend for reaching consumers. According to Forbes contributor Avi Dan, “Transparency will become the most important tool of marketing” in 2015. In the business sense, transparency refers to a company being more honest and upfront with their consumers about the company’s operations, supply chain, etc. Dan asserts that the most successful companies this year will be “those that will give an accurate and real time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.” At McCauley Marketing Services, we are consistently mindful of a fact that many companies forget: marketing is all about communicating with your consumers, and the more honest that communication is while spreading your message, the better your customer retention rate will be.
Why is transparency increasingly important to consumers?
There is rarely a single identifiable reason why consumer interests and trends shift. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, Marcy Massura of the MSLGROUP who provides digital business strategies for a number of companies explains, “Transparency desire is a result of an over marketed and now skeptical consumer base.” The more digitized consumers’ lives become, the more advertisements and messages they’re contacted with every day, and many have grown skeptical with the realization that they can’t trust everything they hear. As a result, they’ve placed a higher value on company ethics and openness than they have in the past.
How can I increase my business’ transparency?
While every business needs to find the best way to reach their target audience, many companies have turned to social media. For example, McDonald’s recently began their “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign in the United States, in which consumers can submit questions on Facebook and Twitter, and the company posts their answers (often in the form of an informational video) on their website and YouTube. The multi-way conversation that social media platforms offer allows businesses to both receive and respond to their consumers’ concerns and questions efficiently. Campaigns like this one allow consumers to have more information and control over what they purchase, and they endear consumers by showing them that the company sees them as more than simply “someone we’re trying to sell something to.”
What do I need to be cautious of when improving my company’s transparency?
While making more information public can be a great business move, it must be done in the right way. First, select the appropriate information to release. For example, if your business is a dermatology office, it probably won’t be useful for your consumers if you release the number of patients you see each day. A better use of transparency may be to release information about the selective process you use to purchase only the highest-quality skincare products. Second, it is vital to plan ahead and prepare. Julie Wenger, Senior Director of U.S. Marketing at McDonald’s and one of the leaders of the “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign, says, “The advice I would have for other marketers is, use social media to learn about your audience and customers, and be prepared. We did a lot of work around anticipating what the questions might be, and what issues we could expect to deal with.” Finally, transparency efforts need to use very careful and deliberate wording. It is important to not simply share information, but to explain the implication that it has for your customers. Because the consumer base is increasingly skeptical, companies should also be sure that their transparency efforts paint their business in a positive light without sounding overly pushy or “sales-y.”
At the end of the day, the demand for transparency in the marketplace boils down to trust. Consumers want to feel like they can trust the businesses they patronize, and want to know that they are using companies that have their best interests at heart. The best way to strike the delicate balance between releasing enough information but not too much, and spreading the word in the best possible way, is to work with professionals like McCauley Marketing Services who can dedicate their time to improving your relationship with your consumers and have the expertise to do this in the best possible way. To start working with us on a plan to better reach your customer base, contact us and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for daily updates and business tips.