In marketing now, it’s all about ‘transparency.’ Here’s what that means.

In marketing today, it’s all about opening yourself up.

If you’re going to be a marketer in today’s hyper-connected world, you need to open yourself up.

One of my many hats here at CI-Group is to be our web master, and on a pretty regular basis, I check our Google Analytics page to see how traffic is and where eyeballs are sticking.

This blog is a popular page. So is our advertising agency section. But without fail, there’s one page that always ranks in the top five—the “about us” page. It’s a place both our clients and prospects visit. But why?

I think it ties to a major trend that’s risen in marketing over the past few years and has been highly accelerated by social media… the notion of “transparent marketing.”

To me, this is the best way to explain what transparent marketing is: It’s a hybrid of marketing, good products, content and biography/story.

For example, it’s not just selling a product or service. It’s also wrapping around that sale a lot of valuable content and information, IN ADDITION to telling the marketer’s backstory.

I’m still being very philosophical here, I know. Let me make up a concrete example!

Let’s imagine there’s a product—a program—that helps children excel in school. We’ll call it BookSmart. The program may include books, web access to a specific site, tests a kid can take at home, and more. But, from a transparency marketing standpoint, the product is just the beginning. Important: Your product needs to deliver on what it promises, and hopefully then some. Today’s consumer will not be lied to!

Today, most brands are expected to offer something more—something free—beyond the product. So, our BookSmart program may have a Twitter feed with daily, inspirational messages for kids and parents. There may be a blog on the company’s site, sharing tips and tricks to use throughout the school year. There could be an email newsletter with more info, a YouTube channel with testimonials, a Facebook page that lists upcoming events and more. The key: Today’s most successful marketers’ advice, “Give till it hurts.”

Then, there’s the biography/backstory component of the sale. People LOVE stories about how companies got started, why they do what they do, their philosophy, how the product was developed, the philanthropic things the company holds dear, and other, more personal-type information. Remember: Readers/prospects WANT to know your personality, struggles, hiccups, successes and more. It interests them, and creates an emotional bond between the seller and buyer. These days, they not only buy the product, they buy what you stand for and believe in.

When people believe in you, they’re more likely to recommend you, write good reviews, share your links with friends, share their story on Facebook of their purchase, and endless ways more.

For a lot of marketers, particularly seasoned ones, the transparent marketing concept is still a little foreign. Most of them think, “Sell the product’s benefits, in the right place at the right time, and that should be enough. No one cares a lick about who we are.” That’s just not true anymore.

Here’s another important idea to remember. All three aspects I’ve shared with you—the product, content and backstory—need to be real, helpful and truthful. If today’s audience suspects that your story is fake or contrived, you’ll lose them faster than they can hit the backspace button.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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