In an age when information about a product – good and bad – is just a mouse-click away, marketers are learning to value openness.
Talking openly is not the stalwart of most marketers. We tend to migrate more toward providing hype instead of help.
So imagine the fear that must be prevalent in some corners of our universe as consumers begin to want – no, demand – an open, straightforward relationship with the brands and products they consume.
It’s all in the name of “transparency,” the idea that you should provide an open window (or maybe door) into the soul of your company’s decision-making process. Sarbanes-Oxley mandates it on the financial side, but now consumers are demanding it as well, insisting that companies open up, talk about their business and, basically, come clean.
So what’s so scary about that? Well, if you’re a marketer used to telling consumers what to think about your product, plenty. But even getting beyond that, talking openly requires that you have something to say – something beyond the perceived benefits and advantages of your product line.
That’s what has many marketers in a tizzy. Listening, responding thoughtfully – that’s not really our strong suit. It’s hard to fake sincerity, and that’s cause for alarm with those of us too used to “spinning” what we say about our brand.
Not that you really have a choice, of course. In an age when your customer service nightmares show up on video-sharing Web sites and your management decisions are critiqued in the blogosphere, you don’t always have the option of spinning the story the way you want.
So, here’s the goal: Find a way to engage customers. Add value to their relationship with your brand. Let them in on new product ideas, talk about why you create what you do or, better yet, connect your passions with theirs – community involvement, environmental concerns, whatever. Your brand stands for something – talk about what that is.
And, if your brand doesn’t represent something – well, sounds like you have bigger issues than worrying about transparency.CRM/Customization, Large Business, Medium Business, Opinion, Small Business