Marketing has become digital, freeform, and collaborative. And for those of us who’ve been in the business for quite some time, transparent marketing can be a little perplexing.

Many stakeholders are trying to get their heads around the abstract structures floating around in the marketing pool. As in, what is strategy, is it under control, and how will it be executed and maintained? And what if someone starts saying foul things about our brand on social media?

Losing control

It seems like there’s no steering wheel when it comes to transparent marketing, and that perception, at least to some extent, is correct. Check out The Cluetrain Manifesto, published in 1999. It’s one of the original thought leadership pieces on transparent marketing.

In a few short pages, there’s an amazingly concise summary. It reveals that business, in its raw, boiled down form, is fundamentally human. That engineering remains second-rate without aesthetics. That natural, human conversation is the true language of commerce. That corporations work best when the people on the “inside” and the agencies they hire completely connect with the people on the “outside”.

If nothing else, the digital age brings about greater possibilities. But the most important aspect of marketing in the digital age and the one key takeaway is this: digital marketing offers greater transparency and efficiency in exchange for abandoning the false sense of control rolled up in the creative briefs and focus groups of yesterday.

Becoming more human

Transitioning into transparent marketing means you’re now becoming more of an organism than an organization. And you function with ever-changing cells, chemical exchanges, neural pathways, blood flows, and who knows what else. There’s a system working here. And most of it seems automatic and just shy of your control. Full disclosure: we were never in complete control, it’s just more transparent now.

So how does successful transparent marketing happen in the midst of what seems like chaos? Clear ground rules. Clarity and definition are paramount; they help motivate everyone to collaborate toward collective goals, rather than compete against one another.

Transparent collaboration

For transparent marketing to work, we must embrace collaboration for new ideas and open-forum conversations that spark more “human” campaigns. It’s important that we use collaborative tools that promote sharing our work and responsibilities while empowering everyone to still deliver projects on time and on budget. As always, we need to be able to take ownership of services and ideas and keep sensitive marketing information under lock and key. Because working on transparent marketing campaigns amongst multiple agencies requires such widespread information sharing, it’s important to have a platform that’s easy to set up and easy to regulate project access and user privileges.

Modern society has evolved into a skeptical animal that will no longer respond to inauthentic or “salesy” angles. People prefer human conversations and to be clear on where your message and brand stands. That’s where intelligent collaboration can give you an edge over your competition. It’s not enough to simply switch strategies and adopt transparent marketing, we need to adopt a brilliant collaboration platform to make it work.


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