How Much Transparency Is Too Much?

Marketing podcast with Pat Flynn

Transparency is a business concept that’s been tossed around liberally these last few years. To some extent social media has forced organizations to be more transparent, because they no longer had the luxury of hiding behind press releases and company spokespersons.

I believe first and foremost in transparency in all things, but how far is too far? I’m not offering a prescription or solid opinion on that. For this post I want to start a discussion as much as anything.


photo credit: jah~ via photopin cc

I believe that transparency, sharing information, revealing the numbers, opening the books or whatever form it takes is a healthy core value and not a marketing play.

Internet marketers have often misused the power of transparency by attempting to “prove” how much money their system makes through the display of large checks and bank statements. This is precisely the manipulative guise of transparency I’m not talking about.

One of the truly innovative good guys in this space is my guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, Smart Passive Income creator Pat Flynn.

From the very beginning Pat has published his money making numbers in his monthly report as a way to validate the advice he is giving to others. Here’s where Pat is totally different than most and why he’s so immensely popular. Pat reports on how he does what he does, even when and as it doesn’t work as often as when it does. He refers to himself as a human crash dummy taking all the lumps and sharing in an often open and sometimes humorous way. Don’t get me wrong, Pats wins far outweigh his losses, but it’s this level of openness that has created a large, loyal and trusting community.

My interview with Pat is actually a ramble through a number of online topics, but I wanted to anchor it with the specific topic of transparency that has served him so well.

If information is power then when you share the information you spread the power and that’s one of the best ways to build a healthy internal culture. A healthy internal culture usually seeps out into the market and defines how the world sees your brand.

When everyone in an organization knows how much everything costs, how profit is made and how to save money or make money for the organization, they are better equipped to make decisions like an owner. Have you ever wondered why nobody cares about your business like you do? Maybe it’s because you know more about why you care, how you care and what difference you’re trying to make – have you shared that information?

I stared this post with a title that asked if you can share too much and I pose that question to you the reader really.

Buffer, an organization I’ve written about in the past, takes public transparency to a place few have. In addition to publishing goals and business performance updates, Buffer recently published how their salaries are determined and who, by name, makes what. This move created a tremendous amount of buzz both from those that thought it was bold and innovative and from those that thought it was reckless and overboard.

I believe that transparency along with consensus and autonomy are essential elements of any healthy business and wrestling with getting these elements just right is one of the greatest challenges that small business face.

So, now your turn. How do you make transparency work?

Why Earned Media Is Essential to Marketing Success

Marketing podcast with Christina Daves

The term “earned media” is pretty fashionable these days. While it’s certainly taken on expanding meaning of late, I’ve been using it for years.

earned media

photo credit: European Parliament via photopin cc

I’ve long felt that the blending of advertising, referrals and public relations (what I’ve always called earned media) is the recipe for effective lead generation.

In today’s vernacular that might be stated as the convergence of paid media (advertising), owned media (content assets) and earned media (public relations combined with all manner of customer generated content and sharing.)

So, let’s further define what earned media is.

Earned media is the kind you, well, earn, you don’t create it or buy it, it comes about when you do something worth sharing. That sharing might come in the form of a feature in your local paper or it just might as likely come when your friends and fans tell their friends and fans about your upcoming webinar.

Either way, it must be an essential leg of your lead generation efforts, and here’s why.

In the information age the most effective form of advertising is advertising that creates awareness for valuable, educational, trust building content. That content may be in the form of an ebook, blog post or Google+ Hangout, but the intent of the paid media is to drive attention and engagement with an organization’s owned media.

By adding earned media to this equation you potentially create leverage that can multiply and carry your paid and owned efforts to places you might never reach. So you see, it’s not just about numbers; it’s about access and trust.

This week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Christina Daves, author of PR for Anyone and an inventor whose talent for generating earned media put her business on the map. In fact, she was so successful she started a business to teach others how to generate PR on a budget.

Earned media, the process that enables and encourages media outlets and end users alike to create and promote messages that benefit your brand is the secret to marketing success.

The pool of potential amplifiers now extends far beyond traditional media outlets. Every member of your community is a potential source of earned media. Anyone that retweets, reviews, embeds, shares, comments, likes and curates your paid and owned media elements generates earned media.

If, in fact, we then proactively build campaigns and processes to turn these amplifiers into subscribers, attendees, participants and ultimately customers, we create the ultimate lead generation machine.

The place where earned, owned and paid media converge, the place where community members can no longer tell the difference, is where the environment for ultimate customer loyalty exists.

You earn market attention when you produce and promote something people want to talk about, but then earned media takes something and creates the kind of momentum that no amount of paid media can.

Creating great content is about creating earned media. Optimizing your blog, website and brand assets is about creating earned media. Your email newsletter is about creating earned media. Your social networking activity is about creating earned media.

Earned media is the ultimate amplification tool when used in conjunction with paid and owned media.

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