There is a growing trend in the world of digital marketing that is becoming part of the way the best brands market. Following in the footsteps of reality television, companies are becoming increasingly transparent in an effort to engage. Instead of talking at their customers and prospects, they are inviting them into their world.
In digital marketing, this is known as transparency. Essentially, it means letting your customers see ‘behind the curtain’.
Examples of transparency in marketing are everywhere today:
Gary Vaynerchuck is perhaps the best known digital marketing consultant today, with a flourishing agency, and a successful speaking career. Three years ago, he created a daily vlog where he is followed by a cameraman. He documents his daily travels, meetings and on-the-go insights. His subscribers and followers love it, and as a result, his business and personal brand continue to grow.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has transformed from a retired Wrestler into a full-blown movie star and media darling. Using the Instagram platform, he invites followers into his gym, onto the movie set, and into his hotel room to see what he’s eating. These daily updates (filmed mostly on his phone) have gained him massive engagement with more than 100 Million followers. His online popularity has translated into blockbuster movie openings.
Both of these men have built businesses on the back of their public identity. Both were established in their fields before they started using social media to show the world more about who they were. But their genius has been in letting the public see what goes on in their day to day lives. It has exploded their exposure.
On a larger scale, brands like Vans have been doing this for over 50 years. Instead of simply showing their products in a studio, they share the ways that skaters and musicians use their shoes in real life. This approach has now become such a big part of the brand that you can’t separate the brand from the culture. And it has become a huge factor in their customer’s loyalty.
How can your business use the same approach to connect with your customers? Here are three ways to be more transparent and engaging:
Make your ‘About Us’ more than a boring bio
Most businesses will have an About Us section detailing some of the logistical details of the business and who works there. The challenge is that a lot of the information is sterile and overly professional. It doesn’t make anyone visiting want to know more.
Entertainment agency Refinery29 is an example of taking the About Us game to another level. Their imagery and explanation of who they are is full of passion and personality. It makes you want to know more about them and the work they do for their clients.
People want to know who you are before they decide if they want to buy from you. The more real you can appear to your prospects, the better your chances of engaging them.
Let them see your process
The brand Zappos are incredibly transparent from the top down. Their founder Tony Hseih has spent years cultivating a great culture, which he shares in his book ‘Delivering Happiness’.
The Zappos website is a great example of sharing and transparency. They have blogs written about the all-star women leading the team. Another article explains what they are doing to increase their environmental responsibility.
This type of openness about what you do, and how you do it can be hugely engaging for customers considering buying from you.
Share your mission
Obviously, each business has a profit motive. They need and want to make money. Yet, these days, those companies that thrive always have a mission beyond the money.
Birchbox is an excellent example of a company that shares its story and values alongside the mission it has. Starting with two friends who wanted a new way to shop for beauty products, they have grown to operate in multiple countries.
Another example is the SEO agency Moz. Starting from a simple blog, they have grown a significant following in search engine know-how for businesses. A great deal of it is due to the human factor that Rand Fiskin and his team display to the world.
While these brands and personalities may seem to be investing in intangible aspects of their business, they are reaping the rewards. As the world becomes more open and connected, giving your customers ‘behind the curtain’ access via your digital marketing means they have a chance to get to know you. And once they know you, they want to connect and buy from you. Sometimes for a lifetime.