Seinfeld on Marketing: Transparency

Transparent

It’s been a while, so I thought its time once again for another Seinfeld on Marketing (drum roll, please). In this episode, Kramer and Newman are explaining to Jerry why they want to reverse the peepholes on their apartment doors:

KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door, so you can see in.

JERRY: But then anyone can just look in and see you.

KRAMER: Our policy is, we’re comfortable with our bodies. You know, if someone wants to help themselves to an eyeful, well, we say, “enjoy the show.”

Are you as comfortable with your company as Kramer is with his body? (Before you answer that, remember that he also prepared food in his shower while he bathed and posed in his underwear for Calvin Klein).

Is there a “show” going on at your company that others would like to have a peek inside? I’m not talking about something staged that once you yell, “cut” you get back to your real life. I’m talking about having something interesting to say beyond your ability to spew corporate gobbledygook. I’m talking about being human. It worked for Microsoft and Scoble. It works for Tony Hsieh at Zappos.com.

So what can you do? Here are 3 things to remember about being transparent:

  1. Let go. You really don’t own your brand – it lives in the expectations of your customers. Sure you can shape it and guide it a little as you ride “shotgun” while your customers drive the brand. But you don’t own your brand and your really don’t own what’s behind the curtain either. So give your customers access to whatever is behind the curtain. It’s time you start letting go like 10-year old girls at a sleep over instead of your first encounter with the in-laws.
  2. Give more. There are many ways we try to hold customers at bay – those crappy calling menu systems, confusing corporate double speak and binders full of corporate polices that even outweigh your Uncle Stan after a long night of fried chicken, Cheetos and TV. Stop holding back and give more. More laughs, more quirkiness, more truth, more deep questions and more care.
  3. It’s not you, it’s me. There’s only one person who cares about your product – you. Your customers don’t care about what you have made. So, in words of Tom Asacker, “what matters is how you make people feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence.” So how can making yourself more transparent make others feel better about themselves? It’s simple. Humans crave contact and interactions with other humans, not things. Things are just pathways to more interactions. Open, human-to-human contact accelerates feelings and shapes a more solid connection beyond the product or service.

So there you have it. Now it’s your turn. Come on, give us a peek inside. There has never been a more robust collection of social media tools designed for transparency than there are today.

Happy Friday!

This post is part of a weekly (oops) series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

[Photo credit: Ben Seese]

9 Responses

  1. Overall agree with you (and loved the analogy to Seinfeld by the way). I think the ‘not caring about the products’ may be a little too strong ;-). Things aren’t that black and white. And also I think it’s relative: Care more/less than your competitor’s product.
    Of course it depends on the products…for basic ‘consumer’ products, it’s probably true that people don’t care. They’re exceptions: If you’re able to show that your product helps fight a noble cause (for example because it’s environment friendly), customers will care about your product because, by buying it, it makes them feel good.
    For more sophisticated and complex product, I think people care. I’ve seen many instances of people loving a product and telling around about it.
    That doesn’t contradict what you said; Indeed,I think companies now have to:
    1) make great products that people love
    2) show that those great products are engineered by people who love to make great products for their customers.

  2. Bill,
    Love the Seinfeld stuff. Keep it comin’!

    Thinking a lot about transparency lately ’cause I’m reading Andy Beal’s fabulous book, Radically Transparent. I guess the question is whether there’s such thing as too transparent. Not ordering a reverse peephole anytime soon, but I do agree with you that people crave contact and that we need to lose the corporate blah blah blah (check out the hilarious CMA commercial about that at my blog) and be more open and real with people/customers.
    My 2 cents.
    Tsufit
    Author, Step Into The Spotlight! : A Guide to Getting Noticed

  3. @laurent,

    Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. I love what you say here and I think we’re heading down the same path – for better or worse I just seem to take it a bit further.

    For example, you mentioned about someone caring about a product because it helps fight a noble cause (e.g. environment friendly). My point is that consumers don’t care about the product per se, but care more so about the noble cause (or better stated the *feeling* they get by supporting a noble cause).

    IMHO, we are not loyal to the Prius (as an example) but rather we are loyal to our own desires and expectations (all internal stuff) and the Prius is something outward that simply reinforces those expectations. Some other product or services that does a better job at fulfilling our internal expectations of supporting a cause may come along and replace the Prius. The Prius is simply the best conduit at the time.

    What does everyone else believe? (Oh, and I’m very cool with it if anyone disagrees with me).

    BTW, I love your blog and your thoughts on social media.

  4. @Tsufit,

    Thanks for stopping by! I *loved” the CMA commercial, very funny indeed.

    You bring up an interesting question – can you be too transparent? What does everyone think?

    I think you can. I don’t care what the person who plays Cinderella in Disneyland does in her spare time (in fact, it ruins the magic). I don’t care about every meeting that happens at Apple (it just adds more clutter).

    But where do you draw the line? How much transparency is too much?

  5. @bill
    I agree with you in general.
    The trick is to find that sweet spot where you customers and your company’s “interest” and “feeling” intersect. Social media can help in that quest as it’s fairly easy to find say 1000 bloggers passionate about “computer security” or “social media marketing” ;-).
    Of course, to leverage such an opportunity, companies have to start with their employees: They have to be interested in what they do, their customers, the products they’ve built for them and the give them the passion to go out there and become transparent because they’re convinced their contribution adds value to the whole.

  6. @laurent,

    Very well said.

  7. […] Marketer Bill Gammell relates transparency to an episode of Seinfeld: KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door, so you can see in. […]

  8. […] Marketer Bill Gammell relates transparency to an episode of Seinfeld: KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door, so you can see in. […]

  9. […] never need to Windex the windows on your campaign or backtrack to make yourself more transparent. Marketer Bill Gammell relates transparency to an episode of Seinfeld: KRAMER: Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door, so you can see in. JERRY: But then […]

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