Courtesy of Drew’s Marketing Minute
Truth. Transparency. Trust.
These 3 Ts are the cornerstones of business, leadership and management. They also make good business sense in the social age – one where reputation, authority and influence matters more than slick advertising or clever creatives.
With the infinite 24/7 resources of Google available at your fingertips, every false word and fictitious deed will be discovered. Every digital marketing strategy – content marketing, social media engagement, influencer marketing, and SEO – hinges on one being truthful, transparent and trustworthy.
In an openly networked world, one’s reputation and standing counts for everything. What you do becomes more important than what you say. Its not just your talk but your walk which matters.
What are the elements within each of these factors? Let us begin with the truth.
Truth is like a light illuminating the path in darkness. It compels one to adhere to a high moral standard, and enforces ethical diligence in what one does.
Speaking the truth all the time can make you unpopular with your peers. After all, nobody likes a friend who repeatedly points out how silly they look with their new (and expensive) hair cut, or who boasts endlessly about their achievements – authentic they may be. Kids who report the misdeeds of other kids to their teachers in schools are called tattletales, blabbermouths or snitches.
In this regard, I believe that truth should be shared with the interests of others at heart. If saying something truthful may hurt another person without helping him or her in any way, it may be better to just shut up.
The converse of speaking the truth is spreading a lie. There are some who say that white lies may sometimes be better than painful truths. The danger, however, is that one lie often leads to another lie, snowballing into a growing ball of deceit.
Transparency is about unveiling pertinent truths.
If an entrepreneur sells widgets, and knows that his widget can only last 5 years, a transparent entrepreneur would reveal that fact to his customers. However, a less scrupulous businessman may find ways to obscure that truth, or water it down in his sales pitch.
An honest and open person isn’t just truthful about her actions but transparent about them too. While its painful to admit one’s mistakes, she knows that doing so would make her a better person over the long run.
Many of the greatest leaders the world has known were honest about their mistakes. They apologise when they were wrong, and were willing to take the punishment for them.
Being transparent also means being willing to teach and to share information more readily. Transparent organisations and leaders make it a point to unveil how they have achieved success, and are generous to a fault. In return, they earn the goodwill and adoration of their communities, fans and followers.
Like Rome, trust isn’t built in a day. Rather, it is developed over time through one’s ability to deliver on one’s promises. However, it can easily be lost overnight.
When public confidence in large corporations plummeted following the 2008-2009 subprime mortgage crisis, trust had to be rebuilt brick by brick. Big banks had to work really hard to regain their customer’s betrayed confidence after billions of dollars were wiped out from their coffers. The US government also instituted painful restructuring measures to reinstate public trust in the economy.
To gain trust, companies and brands need to ensure that what they advertise is authentic and match the real deal. The more trust you can engender between you and your customer, the less you need to market and sell yourselves.
On an individual level, trust is something you earn (or lose) through the way you conduct yourself. Are you a person of integrity whose words and actions match each other? Are you over-promising and under-delivering? If so, you may perhaps need to re-examine your life and implement ways to increase your trust quotient.
Bringing It Together
As you can imagine, truth, transparency and trust must work together.
An authentic person who displays integrity will always behave in a truthful and open manner. Over time, he builds confidence, loyalty and trust amongst his friends and family members.
Conversely, somebody who only speaks nice honeyed words but fail to live up to his promises will erode trust. Over time, he will be like the boy who cries wolf, unable to muster help even when his predicament is real.
Being truthful, transparent and trustworthy is even more significant for organisations whose actions impact many others. Concealing critical facts may lead to major disasters and even deaths. Sugar coating vital information with lies could also lead to customer and employee dissatisfaction.
Of course, it isn’t easy to adhere to a high moral standard. Doing so requires us to have the moral courage to speak and share the truth, even when we’re faced with fierce opposition. However, the long-term benefits more than outweighs whatever temporary discomfort we may face.
The 3 Ts of the social age isn’t an easy goal to achieve. These universal tenets are factors which we all struggle with as humans that are weak in the flesh. However, they are principles that we must all endeavour to adhere to.