We’ve all see those ads where our first thought is “Well, that’s too good to be true.” And then we read the fine print and find out we were right. It’s only FREE DELIVERY on your first order; or GUARANTEED WEIGHT LOSS if you exercise 5 times a week, and cut out alcohol and sugar. Sometimes, marketers treat you like you’re stupid.
In today’s crowded marketplace, you can’t hide behind false advertisements and shiny gimmicks. Not that you ever would, right? With the ease of internet research, consumers today are much better informed than they were even 10 years ago. They’re more aware of the story behind your products and services, where they come from and the process behind them, and they’re able to compare you to your competitors.
In other words, they’re keeping you honest. Customers want to do business with companies that display integrity and transparency. They’ll actually pay more for products and services from companies that don’t utilize false advertising.
If you want to get ahead and stay at the top of the heap, you have to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Today’s savvy consumer will know if you’re lying. They can just read the reviews to show you didn’t fulfill your brand promise, or you said one thing, and did another.
Transparency in marketing is actually pretty easy and painless. It boils down to being up front and honest with your customers during the entire customer experience, from your advertising, to what you say on your web site, to eliminating the fine print and just stating everything clearly from the get go.
Customers Will Go With and Stick With a Brand They Trust
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that customers will almost always go with the brand they trust, and they may even pay more for your products and services. Businesses who are more trustworthy and treat their customers with respect can afford to charge more.
A Label Insight study of more than 2,000 customers found that:
- 94% of people are more likely to be loyal to brands that are completely transparent.
- 56% of people would stay loyal to a brand for life if it was completely transparent.
- 73% of people would pay more for a product that was completely transparent.
So you can see that brand transparency can help you attract new customers, but it can also help you increase brand loyalty with your existing customers.
How to Be Transparent
Think about those pharmaceutical ads you see on TV. Mainly due to federal regulations, they disclose all the possible side effects, and direct you to their website for more information. Now we’re not recommending some fast-talking voice over for your marketing, but you get the idea.
If you sell products, share as much information as you possibly can about how they are made, where they are made, and why they cost what they do. This information should be readily available in your website content, and in any marketing brochures. We realize you can’t provide all of that information in a 30 second ad, for instance.
If your company offers services, explain your experience, your process and your expected outcomes. Let the client know from the beginning how you work and if you use products as part of the process, what products you use and why. If you’ve won awards, say so. But don’t say you’re “the best.” If you have a price match guarantee, say so. But don’t say you have the lowest prices. Again, you can really use your website to get a lot of this information across, but every marketing channel you use, whether social media, print ads or broadcast TV spots should maintain the same level of transparency.
If your company has reached a stumbling block, such as a top level employee being accused of embezzlement or sexual harassment, or you’ve been selling faulty products, don’t try to hide it. Be up front and issue a company statement about what happened and what steps you have taken to keep your customer’s trust.
Be transparent in your pricing. If you’re comfortable putting your rates on your website, great. If not, be consistent in what you charge and why you charge it. Have a rate sheet you can show clients to let them know the reasoning behind your pricing.
Be honest about your weaknesses. Your products and services are not for everyone. If a potential customer asks if you provide a certain service, and it’s not your area of expertise, or your services are not within their budget, refer them to someone you know who can provide what you can’t. Not only will you help the customer, but you may forge a strategic partnership with another company.
The Bottom Line
If you focus on an honest and transparent customer experience rather than misleading marketing techniques, you will attract more customers. And if you deliver quality products and services with integrity, your customers will keep coming back for more, and will tell their friends, family and coworkers why they like your brand so much.