One of the current buzzwords in the business world is “transparency.” It’s the notion that a company discloses what’s it’s doing. It means there are no secrets; the consumer gets what he or she has signed up to get.
Transparency is an ideal that can be particularly conspicuous these days when social media provides a way to shed light on the things that some would prefer to remain benighted. But operating in the dark is a sure way to lose followers and customers.
If nothing else, this era of “fake news” and social-media misdirection have left the average consumer looking for someone to trust. If your business can be that trustworthy source, you win.
The key to that is transparency. Here are some ways to use content to put forth at least the image of openness:
Make it human
In this era of automation, consumers are conditioned to behave as though they are interacting with machines. When a human element does enter the mix, the audience is often pleasantly surprised.
That is the case on so many levels. Think about the last time you called into customer support expecting an automated answer. If you talked to an actual person, you probably had your expectations exceeded.
There are few better circumstances in business than exceeding customers’ expectations, but in this day and age, simply talking human to human can go miles. Regarding content marketing, a business can go a long way in explaining that even though a machine might answer a phone call, there’s a person behind every machine.
Show your work
In elementary school, arriving at a final answer probably wasn’t enough. You had to break down how you arrived at the answer. In the grade-school parlance, it was “showing your work.” In marketing a business with transparency, it’s not much different.
Online consumers are more educated than you might think. So, chances are, they have some idea of your costs and margins. Margins, as secretive as they might feel to you, can be explained to your clientele. The more the movement toward available information online goes the more accepting customers/clients are to those costs and margins.
If, for example, your restaurant sells mussels at $6 a dozen, it doesn’t hurt to let your audience know that you pay $5 per dozen. If you want to communicate transparency, let the customer see both sides of your ledger.
Explain your decisions
The mussel example from above will never tell the whole story. Your margin on mussels might be huge, but if you’ve got some fundamental objection to serving mussels, it doesn’t work for you. And that’s fine — as long as you can explain it to your customers.
In this age of social media, when people can take to the internet and complain about your business, a business owner has to be able to explain the decisions they make logically. Even if it might be unpopular with the customer base, a rationally explained decision is accepted.
The age of transparency that so many business owners find themselves in can be scary to negotiate. But keeping in mind these three easy guidelines can help any business use content to be more transparent.