Honesty, Openness, and Transparency in your Marketing Campaign

How clients and users respond

Jeremy Rodgers
Feb 5, 2019 · 5 min read

First Published: 5 February 2019

Updated 21 January 2020

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If there’s one thing we can learn from past practice, it’s that organisations get called out time and again for dishonest tactics and misinforming their clients. Some recover from the damage of the ensuing bad publicity; others do not.

hile it’s always been important for marketing efforts to be truthful and honest in their approach, it’s now more crucial than ever for brands to be straightforward in their message. In the age of social media, marketing strategies that employ shady tricks, the omission of key facts, or other underhand tactics are destined to come to light at some point and potentially unravel the entire brand image in one fell swoop. Conversely, brands that follow a truthful strategy from the get-go with open marketing techniques stand to enhance their image over time and build a robust, durable brand.

If it’s a quick buck by any means that you’re after, then you may not wish to read on. If it’s long-standing brand loyalty and a strong, positive image that you are seeking, then you’re sure to find the following facts and pointers highly beneficial.

The power of the personal touch

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There are countless ways a company can approach customers today: direct messaging, in-app contact, and real-time chat are the more popular ones. Selecting the best solution for you depends on your industry, offering, and client preference.

Crafting effective marketing strategies involves getting down to the nitty-gritty details, but there’s no need to be dirty about it. Think about your imagined client persona and what they need. Focus your strategy on speaking directly to their needs by addressing them. For example, a car commercial that glosses over the benefits of its latest model is far less likely to speak to consumers than a targeted ad outlining how a small SUV’s spacious size and layout makes everyday life that much easier for a busy mother. When consumers encounter a brand that blends an honest, open marketing technique with a personalised message, they’re far more likely to act.

Aim for strong client and community response

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Users either respond to highly positive or highly negative experiences through online engagement (reviews, for example). Make sure your channels are set up to receive feedback in the appropriate place and tip the scales in your favour through excellent customer service.

Apathy — or lack of emotive response — is the slow drawn out death knell for a brand. A company that inspires spirited applause from its community has higher client and customer engagement. How? Through direct and personal interaction. A platform where consumers can engage directly shows nothing to hide. If you’re willing to answer the tough questions, you will build consumer confidence plus receive valuable market feedback.

Intimate community contact neatly ties into the five traits that customers value in a brand, according to hbr.org:

Openness looks at how transparent a company is in its marketing ventures and customer engagement.

Relevance assesses whether or not a brand offers real, practical solutions to consumers in its field.

Empathy measures a company’s ability to make customers feel heard and understood.

A company that makes using its products and services a convenient and enjoyable experience for users ranks high in the experience metric. And finally,

A brand that taps into customers’ feelings ranks high in emotion.

Strong performance in these five areas is proven to correlate directly with profit and growth, according to skyworld.com. This highlights the importance of listening to and applying customer feedback since these metrics are largely based on customer reports and ratings.

Transparency from the outset

As the old saying goes, the time is always right to do what’s right. Sadly, many organisations (especially those that have had successes through techniques that rely on half-truths and obfuscation) fail to realise the importance of transparent marketing until it’s too late when they are called out over a dishonest move. While it is possible to rebuild trust after an event such as this, it better serves any brand’s purpose to be open, approachable, and upfront from the start.

See Also: Organic Marketing. Strategy, Engagement, and Conversions

Accountability: taking the reins

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Questionable practices require answers sooner or later when users become aware and voice their dissatisfaction online. Take control of potential problem-areas by raising client awareness and inviting responses through a controlled channel.

We are in the age of accountability for brands of all industries: from fast food to airlines and clothing to automobiles. A decent or mildly neutral experience might not inspire a customer to connect directly (e.g. on social media), but an extremely positive or negative interaction is far more likely to prompt an equally strong response. If your offering doesn’t live up to your promise, or your business drops the ball along the way, users will have no problem calling you out publicly. Moreover, they’ll feel entitled to do so and voice their opinion to make others aware and exercise caution in future dealings.

Accountability is, however, not all tightropes: it has the potential to significantly benefit your business when it is embraced and utilised correctly. This is especially true when you employ transparent marketing techniques and deliver above and beyond what is expected of you; you stand to impress customers and reap the rewards of their positive reviews and online comments.

In it for the long haul

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If you want to build a lasting brand centred on a user-focused image, all the above applies to you. If you’re out to make a fast buck by any means, these points aren’t of use. But bad PR has a habit of lingering for a long time…

Employing transparent marketing techniques is a strategy that yields long-term results. Simply telling users what they want to hear — regardless of whether it is right or wrong — may bring short-lived success, but communicating with customers in a direct and honest manner will build a viable brand image for years to come. Tying in closely with this is your online content, its presence, and approach. High-quality content predicts what your audience wants and needs to know and directly addresses them. Furthermore, it gives them an accessible way to share your message and it positions you as an expert and authority in your field.

In sum, openness and transparency is a cornerstone of a sustainable marketing strategy aimed at client-retention, new customer acquisition, and high user engagement. In the age of online transparency, whether you choose to employ these marketing efforts or not, social media will bring your business practices to light at some point. Making the right choice early on to take control of your image and message serves to avoid any difficult repair work down the line. Use strong content marketing techniques to transmit your message to your target audience. Help potential consumers see what your brand has to offer and communicate directly to clients to see optimal results and reap the rewards.

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*Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

Jeremy Rodgers

Written by

Ex-linguist, former pint-puller, attempted crypto-investor—read my accounts of things ventured and my endeavours in narrative to make sense of the nonsensical.

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For people who prefer to socialise via social media through (the medium of) writing; because language is key to healthy communication. Linguakey is an open publication for anyone interested in sharing their stories. Email hello@linguakey.co to be added to the publication.

Jeremy Rodgers

Written by

Ex-linguist, former pint-puller, attempted crypto-investor—read my accounts of things ventured and my endeavours in narrative to make sense of the nonsensical.

An open space for the inspired to share their thoughts and stories with like-minded people in the community.

For people who prefer to socialise via social media through (the medium of) writing; because language is key to healthy communication. Linguakey is an open publication for anyone interested in sharing their stories. Email hello@linguakey.co to be added to the publication.

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