Consider the banana.
Specifically, consider the Dole certified-organic banana. In a world where transparent marketing has become an absolute necessity, this particular banana could teach a master class. It’s as honest and upfront about itself as any consumer could hope. How? It clearly displays the fact that it’s organic, lists its country of origin, and even goes so far as to include a 3 digit farm ID code. A quick trip to Dole’s website reveals the grand finale: you can use the ID code to actually pay a ‘cyber-visit’ to the farm your banana came from, complete with a map, photos, and downloadable copies of their organic certifications.
More than ever, consumers are demanding transparency, especially online. Your average computer user has been conditioned to ignore any internet advertising that smacks of anything less than 100% candor. Rather than fearing the implications, marketers should view this as a unique opportunity to forge a lasting, meaningful relationship with consumers. Here’s a look at some of the ways that online marketers can maintain consumer trust through transparent practices.
1. You Are What You Say You Are
It may seem like a no-brainer, but the first step towards forging a bond with your target audience is to be able to deliver exactly what you promise. If you advertise a banana but instead hand the consumer a ‘banana-flavored product’, chances are they will not be returning to your fruit stand. Fulfilling the expectations you’ve engendered in the consumer is the surest way of establishing a foundation for a long-term relationship.
2. Transparent Feedback
Earning a consumer’s trust means letting them know that you’re not just sharing the good news. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, sharing negative consumer feedback with your customer base will help foster a relationship built on integrity. Consumers want to know that you’re actually listening to their ideas and concerns. By encouraging consumers to tell you what you could be doing better and sharing their thoughts openly, you’ll be promoting an atmosphere of collaboration and familiarity.
3. Admit Your Mistakes
Nowadays, consumers don’t need money to get their opinion out. This means that any time you make a mistake, anybody can form a Facebook group and point out your foibles to the entire world. Rather than waiting for that to happen, take the initiative swiftly. It’s not enough to issue an apologetic press release after 50,000 people have taken up arms against you. Consumers want to know that you’re not going to wait for them to discover your missteps. Admitting your fault promptly will go a long way towards proving to a consumer that you respect their intelligence and are always going to be on the level with them — two key ingredients in any long- lasting relationship.
Online marketing must adapt to the consumer’s ever-increasing desire for transparency. This is a golden opportunity for marketers to adopt practices that nurture a relationship with consumers founded on mutual respect and honesty. Such forthrightness and integrity will be rewarded with the customer’s trust, and lead to a deep and meaningful long-term relationship.