5 Ways Leaders and Companies Can Use Transparency to Win

After my Transparency Favors the Strong post, I got several requests to share ways that companies and leaders could win the race to transparency.

Smart leaders realize that hiding relevant information is just not a good idea anymore.

Customers, employees, shareholders, board members, and other stakeholders in your organization are okay with mistakes. They’re not okay with dishonesty or shady practices.

We live in a world dominated by social media, which allows people to share, discuss, and learn about you, your company, it’s products, and the way you do business.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t hide the truth without actually kidnapping, killing people or turning off the internet. Regardless, if you have to hide it, you probably should change business models or jobs.

Here are five ways your company can win the race to transparency:

1) Blog about what you do

Be honest.  Be open.  Be vulnerable.  Share your feelings.  Companies should act like people so that people can relate to them.  No one relates to perfection.

Here are two examples of transparency in action:

Michael D. Harris Jr. at Ardynn PR is writing 365 posts this year while sharing the wins, losses, and ideas coming out of his growing real estate PR firm.  He’s even gone so far as to discuss his own foreclosure crisis.  Here’s one example of his blog posts.

Mike Cox does a daily video blog every business day where he blows the lid off the secretive mortgage industry and it’s pricing.  Since he leads a group of mortgage loan officers, you’d think giving away pricing info would hurt him, right?  Wrong.  He’s building trust and an avid subscriber base that is hungry for honesty and transparency. Check out Rates in Motion.

2) Be transparent on your “About Us” page

Take advantage of the times when people want to learn more about your company. Write something personal, warm, and right to the point of why you’re in business.

People don’t care about stats until they understand your spirit, goals, and direction.

Robert Jones is writing a series of blog posts about successful “About Us” pages and I highly recommend you read some of his stuff.  It’s amazing.  Here’s the first one in the series, and it features 8pmWarrior.com.

Here’s another example of a fairly transparent “About Us” page.

3) Monitor social media platforms

Monitoring what people say about you should be automated.

The first thing you should do is set up Google Alerts for your brand, company name, and yourself.  Then, when you notice someone is talking about you, move to step 4 below.

Besides Google Alerts, here are some other monitoring tools I use:

4) Interact on social media platforms

Once you know where you’re being talked about, it’s time to engage.

I highly recommend you follow the lead of the Klout.com team and take a candid approach to responding.  Don’t ignore the obvious.  Answer questions and keep it pleasant.  People will say a lot of dumb things, but it’s your job to engage them in a way that makes friends out of skeptics.

Here’s a case where Joe Fernandez (Klout.com CEO) and Megan Berry (Marketing) are monitored and engaged in an intelligent way on a fairly negative blog post.  Check it this blog post.

Other examples of transparent interaction on social media:

One note on Engagement (more to come in a future post)…don’t automatically reply to anyone for any reason unless you are transparent about the fact that it is automated.  It will kill your ability to truly connect.

5) Admit mistakes and offer to fix them first

This is one of the reasons that transparency favors the strong.

The better you are at doing your job, the less expensive transparency is.  This is why some companies face an almost impossible task.  They can’t sell their flawed services in a transparent way, so they get less sales to improve their flawed services.

It’s a death spiral.

I’ll never forget when Best Buy gave me a $100 gift card when Blu Ray officially beat out HD-DVD and my new player from Best Buy was rendered obsolete.  They didn’t have to do anything.  However, they invested some money and made a friend for life.  It’s always worth it to deal with negative situations proactively.

On the other hand, you probably remember when Apple’s iPhone 4 came out with reception issues because our hands were interfering with the antenna (the death grip problem).  I couldn’t believe that they denied the issue when almost everyone I know said there were issues.  Finally, after a media circus, Apple finally gave us iPhone cases to fix the issue they denied having.  This was my first negative experience with Apple and one that killed the myth that they were somehow superhuman.

Summary

Transparency is the new Quality.  Everyone expects it.  If your industry or company is not usually transparent, you may want to be like Mike Cox or consider trying a different line of work.  If you plan on truly leading people, you must be human.  You must be transparent.

If you believe in yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Transparency favors the strong.

Have a transparent night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

11 comments on “5 Ways Leaders and Companies Can Use Transparency to Win”

  1. Good points.

    Be honest and tell the truth. Simple statement- very hard to do. Get your ego out of the way and remember who you’re ultimately here for. It’s not about you- it’s about your customer.

  2. Thanks Aaron for the inclusion.

    You have hit the nail on the head when it comes to TRANSPARENCY. Honesty is something I think we see less and less of these days and I blame social media for this. It is too easy to fudge the facts about yourself and get people to notice you.

    Ethics are a choice that we each make and by forcing companies to become more transparent, we are making them look at the ethics of their employees and management when it comes to doing business. No longer can we hide behind Oaken Doors. Social media has given us all glass walls.

  3. Aaron, I love this post. I just recently read Charles Green’s “Trust Based Selling” and this is right in line with it. The most effective way to earn customers’ business today is to open up to them and make them part of your circle. Today, being dishonest is pure foolishness. It’s simply too easy to be found out. Also, if you aren’t transparent, you can kiss loyalty goodbye. There are too many choices for customers today; the only way that will consider staying with you is if they trust you. It’s not like there isn’t another _______ right up the street. Trust and transparency can be leveraged as a competitive advantage. The more engaged and authentic you are with your audience, the more engaged and authentic they will be with you.

  4. Hi, Aaron, thanks much for the shout-out, and for another helpful post. I think what Michael D Harris is doing is pure genius. People will come back regularly to read his warts-and-all journal entries … I know I will.

    “Blog about what you do” is great advice. “Pull back the curtain” is how I put it with my clients, but I often get resistance. Many small business owners want to appear bigger than they really are, and they fear that revealing too much will give away their size. To which I always say, That’s exactly the point!

    Customers don’t form bonds with big, bureaucratic companies. Being small and personal and responsive is actually a competitive advantage. Make the most of it by being transparent.

  5. Aaron what I find the most difficult for people especially people in leadership or authority is #4. They find it difficult to have non-professional interactions. When I mean non-professional interactions I don’t mean inappropriate either. Just the people to people conversations. Like did you have a great weekend? How is the job search going? Was that a good restaurant? We the “interactee” understand they are people first before their title. I have seen the regular interactions build more creditability verus their prescribed professional posts dictated from their social media manager.

    I understand the fine line they live in, but come on we get human first title second!

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