Many antiquated sales and marketing practices have been all about hiding the fine print … until now.
Clarity of Language
With information literally at the consumer’s fingertips, failing to be upfront from the jump with your clients will come back to bite you. If you’re relying on making enticing promises undercut by restrictions, limitations, and obscure language, you may as well put a sign on your front door that says “You’ll love us! Until you don’t.” Here’s an example from Sprint.
Now, at first glance a consumer is likely to think, wow, I can get a brand new phone for $179? Based on that, they make their way over to their closest Sprint location ready to make a purchase only to find out that there are strings attached…pretty big ones too. Here’s a list of items included in the fine print qualifying them for this deal:
1) Price includes a mail-in rebate of $100
2) Be eligible for an upgrade (which is out of their control)
3) Must have a $25 or higher data pack or Simply Everything plan
4) Must sign a new 2-year agreement
What? You can imagine the disappointment and likely anger customers felt upon finding this out. That frustration isn’t directed at the slick marketer that tossed this gem together – it’s directed at the company. I’d bet this person cancels their contract on the spot, never uses their services again and spreads the word about their experience with a negative review. Not good.
Why Transparency is Important
This is precisely why it’s essential to be upfront about your offerings from the start. Potential customers are far more likely to pull the trigger on making a purchase if they know everything they’re agreeing to, even if it’s not the ‘sexiest’ pitch on the planet.
Knowing what you’ll get and eliminating the possibility of being ‘had’ will also increase customer loyalty since they know their money is safe with you. Aiming for a “what you see is what you get” culture will pay off for your business as it has for many large brands. McDonald’s ran a hugely successful campaign confronting the myths about the ingredients used in their food.
The conglomerate invited consumers to submit questions and promised honest answers. Questions ranged from “Are you planning to offer vegan menu options?” to “What are legitimately in the McNuggets, is there pink goop?” to which they replied “Hi Brady, there’s no ‘pink goop’…Check out this video for a behind-the-scenes look at our supplier’s facility.” Can’t get more transparent than that. This campaign effectively made consumers more comfortable enjoying their Big Macs and boosted the credibility of the chain.
Transparent Marketing Tactics
Turn a negative review into a positive customer service experience! If you happen to get a bad rap from a customer online, showcase your above-average customer service levels by addressing it head-on and offering to make it right. Admitting that you’ve dropped the ball instills a level of trust in your client base – that you’re not above saying ‘that was our fault and I’m sorry that happened’. The high road has a better view – take it!
Incorporate content on your website which highlights your business practices or gives consumers a behind-the-scenes look at how you do things. You want people to feel like they know who they’re doing business with so having a stellar “About” page personally introducing yourself and key staff is a bonus.
Yelp is popular because businesses don’t have the ability to take down negative commentary. Hold your own website to those same standards. Allowing customers to post in an open forum regarding their experiences demonstrates that you’re confident, with nothing to hide.
Share on social media
There’s a bit of debate about comingling your personal life on social media business pages. Let’s put it this way…many people choose to shop local because they want to invest in the people living in their community. If all you post on social are photos of your shop and promos, you’ll fail to make a personal connection. Allowing yourself, as a business owner, to show your face to the public also tells the audience that you proudly associate yourself personally with the company and any repercussions that follow a bad customer experience fall on your shoulders.
When creating marketing materials, simplicity is key. Getting straight to the point without the dog and pony show further demonstrates that as the customer, what you see is what you get. RxBar quickly grew in popularity as a healthy snack bar because of the packaging. Everything the customer would need to know is right there, plain as day.
No razzle dazzle, no bells and whistles.
As your marketing strategy continues to develop, transparency—hyper-transparency even—must remain top of mind. Every industry is headed in this direction and in order to exceed customer expectations, you’ll need to adapt.