The gig is up. In the age of information access and social media sharing, consumers are all too familiar with gotcha marketing techniques and trickery. And when they spot it, they’re quick to blast their displeasure to the masses, potentially devastating brand reputation. Consumers demand brand transparency, and it’s an invigorating shift for marketers.
With less pressure to portray your business as something it’s not, more resources can be spent showcasing your company’s true identity. And that’s reason to be excited.
According to a Label Insight study, 73% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product that provides complete brand transparency. That’s because they want honest products from conscious companies whose passion and values are authentic.
An approach void of smoke and mirrors will not only grow your customer base and financial valuation but also improve corporate culture with increased loyalty across your organization.
Though it may seem daunting to reveal your faults and create transparent content, much of those efforts should center on highlighting what you already do. You can create more brand transparency and a more reliable brand image if you align your values and marketing with authenticity first in mind. Consider these 10 transparency practices:
Make your core beliefs of brand transparency loud and clear
Don’t bury your mission statement in the hidden depths of your website. Put your passion on display by widely sharing the why of what you do. People are drawn to sincerity, and sharing your brand’s values can help clarify your intentions. And remember, keep your messaging and activity consistent with your publicized beliefs.
Prioritize honesty in your product/service descriptions and pricing
Empower consumers with as much knowledge as possible about what you offer to help them make the most informed decision and avoid dissatisfaction later. This also means being forthcoming about any unpleasantries you may have considered hiding (anything from fees to ingredients). Consider the customer perspective to eliminate potential confusion or misleading information. They’ll appreciate the honesty.
Share behind-the-scenes glimpses
When you make your planning, production and delivery methods public, you will increase product assurance and create a more intimate relationship with your customers. What may seem like boring and ordinary information to you, might be intriguing or even exciting to a consumer looking for brand transparency. Buyers care about the sources of their purchases, and it’s important to show where your products come from and who’s touching them across the whole supply chain. So pull back the curtain to detail – with information, photos or, better yet, videos – your facilities, production processes, product demonstrations and how your services are delivered.
Host and document live events
Create in-person opportunities for potential customers to see your offerings for themselves. These first-hand experiences provide a live display of your products/services in action. It can come in many forms – an early release party, a public demonstration, a partnered event – but it will ultimately provide an authentic experience for someone to develop a relationship with your brand. Don’t forget to encourage social media sharing at these events and consider live streaming to boost awareness.
Be open about mistakes and flaws
To make your brand more human, you have to own your mistakes. Buyers are suspicious of companies that try to cover up their flaws, and sharing vulnerability actually increases engagement. It can seem painful, but public honesty and complete brand transparency – about losses, security breaches, even decreased sales numbers – is the best way to build consumer trust and brand reputation. Marketing resources should be dedicated to brand perception, such as analysis of social media and review websites, to identify popular product complaints and then to address them openly.
Create forums for open discussion
Don’t be afraid of customer feedback to improve your products and services. Thin skin has no place in modern marketing. Buyers appreciate opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns, and that valuable insight might just inspire innovation. Consumers are impressed with brands that can show how they used customer feedback to make changes to their products/services. It also helps customers feel valued with a sense of ownership in your products.
Make your privacy and data policies clear and accessible
Consumers want to know how their data is being used and shared, and businesses have an obligation to their users to be transparent about it. According to the Consumer Policy Research Center, 95% of people want businesses to give options to opt out of information collected about them, how it’s used and/or how much is shared with others. Strive to inform potential customers how you handle their data by making your policy easily accessible and user-friendly. Even with marketing emails, it’s important to give your audience options for managing their preferences and opting out of future communications. Show customers that their privacy and preferences are your priority.
Avoid flaunting a forced transparent image by taking the opportunity to feature others on your platforms. Highlight an especially interesting story about one of your high-achieving employees. Recognize other businesses in the industry who are also doing good work. Feature your most loyal customers or influencers with their permission to share their stories. By casting others in a positive light, you’ll also strengthen your brand image.
Set goals and share your progress
You already have goals for improving what you do and how you do it. Share those goals with your customers and update them with your progress. Buyers will appreciate your efforts toward growth and enjoy witnessing your journey. If you accomplish your goals, you’ll have plenty of content to share – and an eager audience to share it with. But what if you don’t achieve them, now that you’re accountable to the public? See #5.
Highlight your social and environmental responsibility
Many buyers want to invest in products that were created from a socially and environmentally friendly presence. Share your CSR efforts by publicizing past and future activities and events. Tactful presentation is obviously important to maintain a sincere tone. However, showcasing your company’s generosity can deepen consumer trust and loyalty.
All of these methods can be applied across many platforms: your website, personalized email campaigns, live events, social media activity, blogs, ads, etc. The most effective way to achieve a transparent image is to show it – not just tell about it. The popularity of photo and video sharing provides brands the chance to create more see-it-for-yourself opportunities than ever before.
And today’s consumers are marketing skeptics with increased awareness of supply, competitors and pricing. It’s no surprise that 94% of people are likely to be more loyal to brands that offer complete transparency. They crave it.
Use brand transparency to give buyers the knowledge they deserve to earn their trust. When you bare your true business identity, the rewards – and your company conscience – will be crystal clear.
Read more: Transparency Has Its Limits