If you’re even minimally involved in marketing, you know that advertising and mass marketing are undergoing major changes. Have been for some time. We have become so inundated with constant marketing messages that we have become quite efficient at tuning them out. Not only is there too much noise, but mass marketing interrupts us, generally at the most inconvenient times – think TV commercials.

The worst part about this mass of advertising? A high percentage of it is simply irrelevant. The person hearing/seeing the message is not the target market. So we have lots of noisy messages that interrupt us with irrelevant messages.

It’s easy to see why changes are in order. As a way to make sure messages are more effectively delivered, companies are frequently turning to new marketing formats (like internet marketing) and engaging with customers in a more natural, transparent way.

Why Transparency In Business Is Good Business

One of the trends we’re also seeing is businesses moving toward greater transparency in everything – from pricing, to quality, to a company’s corporate responsibility policies. Previously, most companies were able to hide behind the curtain of mass media and carefully control the messages sent out to customers. That’s increasingly difficult because customers are able to get far more insight into a company and its products than ever before.

One of the developments that is driving the transparency trend is online customer reviews and recommendations from personal acquaintances, usually gathered online. The Nielsen Global Online Customer Survey recently found that “recommendations by personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online are the most trusted forms of advertising globally.” So not only do people place higher trust in online reviews and personal recommendations, but it is becoming increasingly easy and convenient for people to write reviews online.

This is good news for consumers: more transparency means a greater ability to make informed purchasing decisions. This is also good news for well-run, ethical companies who offer a valuable product or service. I would expect the cream to rise to the top, in this case.

In many cases, though, transparency alone isn’t enough. Because of the power of social media/networking, companies must invest in engaging with current and potential customers online as well as actively managing their online reputations. Companies that do these things well provide distinct differentiation versus their competition that will simply drive bottom line business results.