Transparency as a Marketing Strategy

In 1993 Peter Steiner created this cartoon.  It quickly became an icon for our understanding of the internet back then: this amazing, anonymous place where you can create whatever you want to create.  Where nobody knows you’re a dog!

As a marketing consultant then, I was reminding people to include their domain name on everything they print.  Yeah, I know, leading-edge stuff there, Hamilton.  But remember, Amazon.com wouldn’t launch for another two years.  Google was five years away.  AOL was peppering us with CDs in the mail.

Now, on the internet, EVERYBODY knows you’re a dog!!

The internet has gone from anonymous to transparent.  And as with every major shift, a real opportunity unfolds for smart marketers.

Accept it.

It is happening, you can’t say one thing and be another.  You can’t hide behind fancy ads.  You will get found out.  Faster than ever.  So, just accept it.

Be the dog you really are.

You probably do lots of things for customers.  Be smart and focus on the thing you do best.  That thing that’s at the core of the value you provide, that all the other things you do are bundled around.  Do more of that.

You and I can’t afford NOT to put ourselves out there as exactly what we do best.  Too many choices make it more and more difficult to standout for anything but the thing we do best.

That the internet dramatically increases choice is not news.  The shear amount of choice and how people are embracing it, however, may be new information.  I’m recommending to my client in Dubai they go to Mumbai for their website and Arizona for their logo.  If I didn’t, they may have just as easily gone to the Budapest or the Philippines.  I have clients with good relationships with partners in all four places.

Be a purebred, not a mutt.

No offense to mutts.  We own four.  It’s a clever attempt to make the point of congruency.  Everything about you needs to be congruent.  Congruency, purebred.  Pure, congruent.  Get it?

Okay, not perfect.  But you get point.  You can’t hide anything, so make sure everything about the customer experience is consistent with what you are.

Figure out how you can make money doing it.

So what is it again, that you do the best?  With everything else stripped away?

Do you have to raise your price to make money doing it?  Can you cut your price in half?

You may find it’s hard to be that new company to current customers.  Fine.  But you must start attracting new customers to that new, more focused you you want to become.

Think about these four things as you think about your marketing strategy and you’ll be working with the momentum of the marketplace, not against it.

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