Transparency essentially comes down to being clear and honest with customers, so it probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that transparency leads customers to trust a business more. However, without a clear idea of what transparency means, how it improves performance, and the ways different businesses can be transparent or fail to do so, actually showing this quality can be a mysterious puzzle. Read on to see some guidelines on being transparent in your marketing.

Trust is Everything

jumping silhouette at sunset

Image via Flickr by BendingPhotography

The simple reason transparency matters is customers will almost always decide to pay more for a brand they trust. A restaurant with a higher reputation and slightly higher prices than a similar restaurant will earn more than enough business to compensate for the lost revenue from those who want to save the most money possible. In a free market, it’s only fair that businesses who are the most trustworthy and who treat their customers with the most respect would earn the right to charge more.

People hate getting food poisoning, or having to call customer support, or having their used car break down a month after buying it, or any of the myriad things that come from choosing a product or service that doesn’t serve as advertised. The mere implied security of a human and trustworthy brand overcomes many other things that might have turned a customer off of your business, and sets you apart from opaque competitors who do nothing but repeat selling points.

Delivering Maximum Value

This is the key to knowing whether something should be made transparent to customers: if doing so adds to the value of their experience. Put yourself in a customer’s shoes and consider what you would like or dislike about an experience with your type of business. Show how much you value a customer’s time and attention by being direct and cutting out any unpleasant surprises.

For example, consider an advertisement for free delivery on orders above $50. If the business put the detail that the order must be $50 in tiny print that you could easily miss, you would trust that business less. If the over $50 rule is just as clear as the advertisement for free delivery, however, almost no one would take issue or feel deceived.

Fear of Exposure

Transparency means admitting to flaws, explaining everything people should know up front, and in general behaving like a trustworthy brand, but the common fear holding businesses back is the exposure of such an approach. Could admitting to faults or being honest to a potential fault really benefit a business in the long run? It turns out that’s exactly the case, as the strengthened reputation improves customer retention, word-of-mouth recommendations, and other things that are the lifeblood of a growing venture.

There are many stories of big-name brands re-inventing themselves by admitting to faults in the name of correcting them, such as the 2009 Dominos Pizza campaign which shared harsh reviews of their old pizza in order to create a new and intriguing contrast against their reinvented recipes and methods. This kind of behavior is the scariest thing for most businesses, but ironically is the best thing to do. It’s powerful enough to wipe the slate clean, so consider the benefits it can pose for an unknown or well-liked brand.

Avoiding Showing Conceit

Like obscenity, transparency is one of those ethereal concepts that people know when they see it, which means that trying too hard to appear transparent can easily backfire. Remember not to force your appearance of transparency, or to push an image of your brand without living up to it. It’s easy to draw attention to your brand to push the idea of transparency, but this inorganic approach will lead to resistance. Inspire people to support your efforts by looking like an honest business that could use that support.

Fortunately, there’s a great way to still gain the same amount of attention while not regularly promoting your business: promote others. Whether favorite customers on social media who give permission to be featured, high-achieving employees with an inspirational story, or simply people in the same industry or with similar interests who also do good work, there are all sorts of people who deserve attention that will pay back greatly by making your brand uplifting.

Actions Over Words

The reason transparency is so attractive to customers is not merely because it’s the right thing to do. There’s also the rarity factor. It’s surprising to see a business with nothing to hide. Conversely, while it’s rare to find a fully transparent business, it’s all too common to find businesses claiming to be honest, transparent, and ‘customer-first’ with little backing it up. This is akin to giving yourself a participation award for not scamming customers, and it’s this kind of stereotypically auto-sales speak that you want to avoid.

If you want customers and clients to open up to you more and develop trust the second they see your marketing, one of the key things to remember is that money talks. More accurately, any opportunity to show transparency is inherently more powerful than claiming to be transparent. Any business can whip up some copy about putting trust at high priority, but everyone’s heard it all before. Find real opportunities to express transparency that are specific to your business and its goals and accomplishments. It’ll take more effort, but the customers will realize you made that effort and will tell others.

Transparency matters because if you don’t clearly and honestly present your business and what it stands for, your customers will decide for you, and often with a less than flattering mindset. These tips are important to remember when directing any marketing or copywriting efforts, but above all, great content is what converts both wandering eyes and highly targeted prospects into customers. If you want to achieve the best results with each ad, blog post, and social media campaign, you should trust the writing role to professionals with experience serving businesses just like yours.