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  • Aspire » Small Business Strategy » Become transparent to make an impact

    Become transparent to make an impact

    photo by marcomagrini 

    Think about the huge number of problems that would go away if everyone was transparent and focused about who they were and what they’re doing.

    I’m sure there are people out there that will say this is a naive view, but I believe that transparency can be a huge driver for success.  Yes there are bad people out there that will attempt to take advantage of you, but building your processes and communications around the bad apples instead of the rest of the world doesn’t make any sense.

    What do I mean by transparency?

    Let people know who you are.  Don’t hide behind a screen name, a business name or just being an anonymous presence.  (That’s not to say that you can’t be creative with screen names or business names, just make sure people can learn more about you somewhere else).

    Transparency is about having an opinion and sharing it openly (this is an area I need to work on – I’m good with sharing the opinion, I just don’t always have a strong feeling on things).

    Transparency is about having a sense of humor and / or a personality that can shine through in your stuff.  This can be a challenge in the heyday of Political Correctness and I’m not advocating that you do anything unprofessional, but there’s a lot of leeway between dry, boring and corporate and crossing the line.

    How can transparency help you for Marketing?

    I’m a big fan of Naomi Dunford – author of Itty Biz, a blog on Home Business Ideas and I’m becoming a fan of a Havi Brooks – author of the Fluent Self.

    Although the writing is fantastic and they both have great ideas, what really makes both of these sites (and women) shine is that they absolutely embrace being themselves, enjoying what they do and putting it out there. 

    In other words, the reason they are getting a lot of well deserved attention is because they’re smart, funny and transparent.  They are honest (perhaps to a fault) and not afraid to let the language fly.

    Most of us aren’t that interesting (or funny unfortunately), but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own personality out there.

    There will be people that don’t like you. 

    There will also be people that do like you.

    But that’s a lot better than people that don’t care at all.

    How can transparency help you for Sales?

    I’m convinced that Brute Force marketing and sales are no longer productive ways to grow your business.

    People don’t want to be cold called.  They don’t need more long copy sales letter (online or in the mail box).  People want solutions to their problems and they want to buy them on their own schedule from people that they Know, Like and Trust!

    If you’re transparent, I can easily determine if I Know, Like and Trust you.  If I don’t, I won’t buy from you.  If I do and if you have a good product that solves my problem, not only will I buy, but I will likely become an advocate for you and extol your virtues to the world.

    If you’re not transparent?

    I can’t get to know you – I don’t know if I like you and I’m fairly sure that I don’t trust you.

    No sale!  Even if you send me an email, a direct mail, call me and accost me at my house – I’m still not going to buy anything (and I’ll start warning everyone I know to stay away from you).

    How can transparency help you for Leadership?

    There’s a reason why Dilbert and The Office are popular – for a lot of cubical dwellers they do a pretty good job of describing what life is like on the inside of the corporate world.

    If you’ve ever worked for a manager that wasn’t transparent, it can be a terribly frustrating experience.  They pass along inexplicable directions and tasks using the company line to explain what’s going on, only to reverse course a couple of weeks later using the same justifications!

    As a transparent leader, people know what you’re doing, why you’re doing and how it impacts them.  The extreme business example of this is using Open Book Management to run the company, effectively letting all of the employees in on what’s going on with the bottom line.

    It’s been my experience that leading people that know what’s going on is a lot more effective than the alternative.

    Do you have any other good example of being transparent or where transparency would make things better?

    Share them here – I’d love to hear other opinions on this.

    Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach



    This post has 12 Comments.

    • September 8th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

      This is a terrific piece, and I’m not just saying that because you say sweet things about me. And not even just because I agree with you on all of it 100%.

      It’s a well-crafted, sensible, cogent argument in favor of being human in business, which is (while admittedly somewhat counter-intuitive) smart business and also good for the soul.

      I just subscribed and can’t wait to send people here. Thanks for this, Shawn. Love it.

    • September 8th, 2008 at 11:51 pm

      Thanks for the comments and reference to my Brute Force Myth post. You get it!

    • September 9th, 2008 at 1:36 am

      I find there is a fine line between trust and friendship and when you reach friendship the buying tends to dry up. In my last business as a Professional Organizer my clients who were friends mostly became friends after being clients. There’s something that seems to stop people from buying stuff from friends, especially in the Professional Organizing or Personal Growth industry – opening up one’s clutter or lack of dreams situation is just too embarrassing for many people and they would rather go to a stranger than to someone close.

      So how to create trust and a sense of closeness on a blog that keeps people at that slight distance needed to convert them to clients?

    • September 9th, 2008 at 4:26 am

      I’m not into making strategies or ‘playing’ for attention but what I’ve found the last couple of weeks is that just being yourself counts for alot.

      Be the real you if you want to retweet then retweet if you want to make a sarcastic comment then do it (try not to go to far 😉 ) If your writing style is crappy who cares!

      I think the problems with blogging and social media tools is that people try to change their personality to something they ‘think’ people would like to connect to, which is wrong!

      ‘Transparency’ it’s a good one, going to have to make my own post along these lines, Thanks!

    • tom kern
      September 9th, 2008 at 7:56 am

      I like the transparency idea & I wonder if the internet is helping in this or not? can you give me a reason why some things happen like disapearing images on the screen ?is this all part of the transparency act ? If yes is it good or not. More to write .thanks tom k

    • September 9th, 2008 at 8:54 am

      “But that’s a lot better than people that don’t care at all.”

      Percentages, this is exactly right…

      ~ Jim

    • September 9th, 2008 at 9:35 am

      All – thanks for all of the great comments.

      Alex – In general I find that people like to buy from friends, but I can see your point about personal stuff. Are they at least giving you referrals? If not, you should ask them (nicely) to help you out.

      Tom – I’m not sure how to address your comment, I don’t think transparency is a technical issue if that’s what you mean. 😉

      Have a great day!


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