Back in my radio days, I remember being forced to add excruciatingly long, high-speed disclaimers to the ends of commercials. I think the record was a 15-second disclaimer in a 60-second commercial.
Think about that for a second. 25 percent of the advertising investment was spent creating the perception that the other 75 percent of the commercial was BS.
Commercials like that were in dire need of a squeegee.
Marketing content is capable of providing a window into your organization. It allows people to see who you are, what you do, how you operate and your company values.
This window needs to be transparent.
Merriam-Webster defines “transparent” as “readily understood; honest and open; not secretive; free from pretense or deceit.”
When content requires qualifiers, fine print or disclaimers, or simply doesn’t tell the whole story, a haze starts to form on that window. This lack of transparency results in misunderstandings, mistrust, hard feelings and lost sales.
In a previous post, I discussed how clarity is the most important characteristic of great marketing content. Transparency is an extension of clarity.
Transparency builds trust and helps to define your brand.
Transparent marketing content makes it possible for people to see the facts without distortion.
When facts are clear, indisputable and easily accessible, people feel more confident in you and your company, and their own decision-making.
The first step to building a lasting relationship, professional and personal, is establishing trust, which can only be accomplished by communicating transparently.
Transparency makes it easier for people to believe you and believe in you.
People are more likely to believe in you if your marketing content shows you believe in yourself and your ability to solve problems.
You can take a relationship to a whole new level when you solve a problem together. Transparency can help you resolve a problem faster by clearly and truthfully presenting solutions and removing confusion and doubt.
That doesn’t mean you have to hold someone’s hand as a problem is being resolved. Maybe you just need to provide the information that helps people help themselves.
Transparency shines light on the truth.
Sometimes the truth hurts, so be brutally honest if necessary. Watering down your marketing content isn’t going to make the problem go away.
What people need to hear isn’t always what they want to hear. But people are more likely to respect and benefit from honesty and expertise than cheerleading and back-patting.
Transparency shows you have nothing to hide.
It’s okay if your marketing content, by being transparent, shows you’re not perfect. People don’t necessarily expect perfection, but they do expect you to be genuine.
I’m not saying you should promote your mistakes or flaws. Just be honest about them.
People can find out just about anything these days if they’re willing to do the digging. If there’s a blemish on your record, wouldn’t you rather they hear about it from you?
If you don’t use a squeegee to create transparency, other people will. And their squeegee will probably leave a mark.
Use marketing content to address misconceptions, preconceived notions and customer complaints that may be preventing people from doing business with you. Deal with obstacles or negativity on your terms – openly and honestly – to earn their respect.
The squeegee is just as valuable to the business owner and marketer as it is to the window washer.
Take a hard look at your content.
Does it build trust or apprehension? Does it clarify facts or create ambiguity? Does it directly address negativity or try to sweep it under the rug?
Transparency earns trust. From trust will come loyalty.
It all starts with that window created by your marketing content. When you provide a crystal clear view into your company, you make it easier for people to do business with you.
If your content lacks transparency, use a squeegee and clean it up. Otherwise, you’ll open the door for your competition and leave money on the table.
For a better understanding of how transparency and clarity makes people feel, watch this video and pay close attention to the lyrics…
As always, the original is infinitely better.
About the author: Scott McKelvey
I’m a copywriter, marketing consultant, lifelong New Jersey resident, husband to a beautiful wife and father to two beautiful girls. I love playing with my daughters, a day at the boardwalk, sarcasm, craft beer and grilling. I despise beating around the bush, synchronized swimming, Toddlers & Tiaras and onions. Most people don’t know I used to be a radio DJ and once wrote, produced and voiced a commercial for the TV show 24. Two places I want to visit before I die are Ireland and Norway, the homes of my ancestors. One place I never want to revisit is my first apartment because my creepy landlord, Monty, freaked me out. That just about covers it.