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Newsletter #882: The “Keep It Transparent” Issue

Openness, honesty, and transparency can change your business (and how the world thinks about your business). Get started by seeing how these smart marketers are doing it:

1. When comparing with competitors
2. When you mess things up
3. When you want to change behavior
4. Check it out: The March Madness Map

1. When comparing with competitors

37signals is serious about uptime. They know it causes headaches for customers when apps crash or become inaccessible. So as an open challenge to themselves, they’ve started posting their uptimes in comparison with other online apps. Every few weeks, they publish the results — and they’re not always at the top. In January, for example, their Basecamp product was down for a total of just 16 minutes. But the top prize went to Github, who was down for only 6 minutes. It’s a simple scoreboard, but the honesty and transparency of it shows just how much 37signals cares about the availability of their stuff.

The lesson: Would you post a scoreboard of how you compare against your competitors? What would it look like?

Learn more: 37signals

2. When you mess things up

A Child’s Right is an NGO that installs clean water systems at orphanages and schools in the developing world. It’s hard work and it doesn’t always go right. Sometimes the systems fail, sometimes things break. That’s why they consider the number on their home page — the number that says how many kids they’ve served — a “living number” that goes up and down depending on how their water systems are working. They also have a live map and a list of all of their projects. Most say “Active,” but any that aren’t currently operating get a big “Failed” on them. It’s all part of their dedication to transparency and showing donors exactly where their money is going — and it’s something founder Eric Stowe says is helping to completely change the nonprofit sector.

The lesson: Everyone makes mistakes — we assume that. But the brands and groups that actually tell us about them (and what they’re doing to fix them) are the ones we really trust.

Learn more: GOOD

3. When you want to change behavior

Transparency can change how people think and act. That’s the idea behind BinCam, a trash can that takes a picture of everything you throw away and posts it to Facebook. The goal is to get you thinking about what you’re choosing to throw away instead of recycling — and it works! Students who tested it at Newcastle University said it made them much more conscious of their waste, inspired them to add recycling bins, and helped them learn more about recycling in general. Plus, it started a bunch of online and offline conversations about the issue.

The lesson: Encouraging your customers, fans, and clients to openly talk about something that typically happens behind-the-scenes can lead to a lot of conversations and learning.

Learn more: Engadget

4. Check it out: The March Madness Map

Sure, this would have been much more helpful if you could have seen it while filling out your bracket back in March. But this map showing how the tournament progressed geographically is just as amazing now — even if it won’t help you win your office pool.

Check it out: Column Five

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Comments

  1. matt haines April 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    That “bincam” sounds like it could be re-purposed into the world’s most effective dieting tool. Stick it on the fridge and post everything you eat onto Facebook!