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The following is an excerpt from the book Marketing that Matters
by Chip Conley and Eric Friedenwald-Fishman
Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishersy; October 2006;$12.00US; 978-1-57675-383-5
Copyright © 2006 Eric M. Fishman and Stephen Townsend Conley


Walk the talk

Practice 9: Be Authentic and Transparent

Today's Customers have good reason to be skeptical. The marketplace is filled with products that don't work; businesses flood media with campaigns to improve their image without the good business practices to back them up; and politicians and governments at every level appear to be distorting the truth in alarming ways. Trust is at an all-time low. More than ever, customers are demanding integrity from their chosen brands, and as a socially responsible business, you are uniquely positioned to capture these customers as your own. Why? Because you walk the talk. It has never been more critical that your words and actions reflect your core values. In this chapter, we will focus on authenticity and transparency. We think of authenticity as the foundation upon which the marketing program for a business is built and transparency as the insurance policy that creates trust and drives accountability.

 Jeffrey Hollender, CEO of Seventh Generation, decided to identify and disclose all of the ingredients used in Seventh Generation's products even though disclosure is not required by any regulation. By taking this action, Hollender was providing information to his customers that would help them make informed choices, and he was demonstrating authenticity and transparency. As a green brand that responds to customers' desire to tread lightly on the planet, Seventh Generation established important trust by demonstrating that it would make only authentic claims for its products. When products contain ingredients that are not sustainably produced, it says so. In essence, Seventh Generation is telling its customers, "While we have removed many harmful substances compared to conventional brands, we too must make products that work, and we are still striving to find alternatives. "1 In addition, Seventh Generation posts this information on its Web site, further demonstrating that it will make only authentic claims and is committed to operating its business transparently.

Values-based customers have a finely tuned "B5 meter" and a deep desire to authenticate the claims made by the companies that they support. While the loyalty of values-based customers is deeply desirable, their wrath, if they discover false claims, is formidable. Some marketers have characterized the values-based customer as an information hound. These customers desire the ability to garner detailed information. They often serve as a brand's most valuable distribution channel for information as they discover it. They pass along details that either reinforce the brand with others or call the brand into question.

Copyright © 2006 Eric M. Fishman and Stephen Townsend Conley