It isn't enough just to make a product look good anymore. With so much information at their fingertips, consumers want -- and demand -- to know everything there is to know about a product and the company that makes it before opening their wallets. In fact, more than 73 percent of consumers consider transparency more important than price. Nearly 40 percent say they would switch from their preferred brand to one that offered more transparency.
That doesn't mean companies have to spill every trade secret that makes their brands great. On the contrary, the key to transparency is the quality of information, not the quantity. To maintain transparency, companies need to master the art of communication, which may be slightly more challenging in the digital age than some companies realize.
With these tips, however, you can easily overcome that challenge and provide the type of transparency you'll need to stay competitive:
1. Teach customers, don't just talk at them.
The unavoidable truth is that most consumers today simply don't trust advertising. They don't want to see paid actors praising a product; they need to see behind the curtain before they can believe the words coming out of it.
Brand ambassadors thrive on the trust of their audiences, and companies can help them nurture that trust by providing the educational but entertaining information that consumers crave. Companies that focus on affiliate marketing, like JVZoo, help create and share the perfect "edutainment" for any type of product.
As Laura Casselman, CEO of JVZoo, explains, "Your product may create satisfied customers, but educational content creates the kind of cheerleaders who will outsell your sales team by a 10-1 ratio." Consumers are more willing to trust brands that can prove their worth. No matter how many impressions you get on social media, educational content is the only way to do that.
2. Listen and learn as much as you teach.
The good thing about brand ambassadors is that when they post something about your product, the audience can respond. Effective communication is a two-way street, so value this feedback if you want to stay connected to your consumers. Otherwise, your brand's message will quickly lose its relevance.
Transparency is more than just dishing out information about a product. You must also let consumers know that you hear their concerns and are working on them, or that you appreciate their praise and would like their input on future products. Building on consumers' specific feedback creates a more partnership-based relationship with them.
Michael Olguin, president of Havas Formula, a PR agency that helps brands emotionally connect with consumers, stresses the importance of listening skills. He notes that because customers don't always express their desires very clearly, you'll need a keen ear and intuition to pick out the messages they are trying to communicate. When the feedback is negative, responding to it and acknowledging your mistakes (more on this below) shows consumers that you really are engaged in the conversation.
3. Own up to your mistakes.
Admitting a mistake is never easy, but it's one of the most important ways to increase the transparency of your business. It's also one of the trickiest -- how do you admit that you made a mistake while still retaining consumers' confidence in your brand? Being authentic and transparent is the answer.
In a world of instant mass communication, acknowledging a mistake upfront is less tricky than responding to negative feedback calling your company out on that mistake. It gives you the chance to set the narrative, lay out the solutions you're implementing, and ensure that consumers see you taking initiative to make things right.
Tony Delmercado, COO of Hawke Media, warns companies not to hide from their mistakes: "Clients will see it and ask about it anyway. When you make mistakes or see lackluster results, report the bad news before they ask about it." Fess up to your mistakes, and you not only cut off negative feedback, but you also strengthen the trust that you've worked so hard to build with your audience.
It's important to remember that consumers' distaste for advertising is a statement on past marketing methods and not necessarily on the brands themselves. If you're having trouble getting a campaign off the ground, don't give up on the product; try these tips to change how your brand communicates with its audience, instead. These days a little transparency goes an impressively long way.