B2B Marketers Must Be Transparent to Build Trust

by Jennifer Beever

Likeable BusinessDoing business today requires transparency, which builds trust with your customers and partners. It leads to increased business, since people buy from people they know, like and trust.

Last night I attended Peter Coffee’s Annual Tech Update at the AITP Chapter meeting in Los Angeles. He talked about the many revolutions technology is creating (see the list at the end of the post), and many affect marketing. I think the one most important to marketers today is number 6 – Trust is required for doing business today, and consumers and business people demand transparency.

What that means for marketers is that we do need to tell the truth. No more Mad Men using smoke and mirrors to trick the unknowing customer into buying our stuff. And, when we make a mistake, we have to own it and correct it.

In the book Likeable Business, David Kerpen uses Domino’s Pizza as an example of doing the right thing when customers aren’t happy. In 2009 Domino’s employees videotaped extremely bad behavior, damaging the company’s reputation. The company decided to embrace social media and very transparently aired negative complaints from customers (“Domino’s pizza crust tasted like cardboard”) and showed the pain the comments caused their employees, who wanted to do a good job and produce a winning product. Domino’s committed to improving its product, and as a result its financial results increased significantly in the very next quarter while competitors were seeing a 2% decline.

Kerpen points to the BP Gulf oil spill as an example of what a company should not to do when something bad happens. Internal communications at the company showed that BP knew 100,000 barrels per day could be spilling into the gulf, but they publicly declared it was only 5,000 per day. It also had a similar accident in the Caspian Sea prior to the Gulf oil spill, which, if the company took remedial action and inspected all its equipment at that time, the Gulf spill could have been avoided. The company lost $25 Billion in market value after the Gulf spill.

Peter Coffee’s Technology Revolution List:

  1. Social connections increase communication and access
  2. Mobile brings access to computing into more hands than ever before.
  3. Big data allows new discoveries and the ability for business to be proactive.
  4. Collaboration is increasing.
  5. Apps connect consumers to brands in an immediate way.
  6. Trust is paramount and consumers demand transparency.
  7. Cloud computing enables all of these revolutions.

What are you doing to get people to know, like and trust your company?


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