First time I saw it on Neil Patel’s blog, may be 3-4 yrs back, I could not believe what I was reading on it. He was dead honest about everything he does, and he shares all his success and failures, and about experiments he’s done in different projects… was unbelievable, how and why any one shares so useful information, without expecting any return, just for the sake of helping some anonymous readership.

Transparent Marketing

Later on whenever I come across just dead honest blogs, videos, more recently podcasts…..we always get touched…with earnestness of the author or podcaster….it’s like there’s not much they held, for later.
Needless to say, the way to get an immediate fan or someone to like your blog, is to be dead honest  about what you are doing.
Many won’t notice, but thanks to Internet, and all conveniences it brought us along, everything changed for the best.
Ten years back….if you are out to embark on new project or venture….its huge work to know and gather a lot of relevant information necessary. It used to take, if you are down to earth person, and hence to be careful and to avoid silly mistakes, months before you actually know enough to start anything. Often times, in this phase itself, people used to quit on the new project.
And now, all that has been virtually cut. As soon as you get an idea or hunch to start something anew, there’s enough people on Internet, across the globe, to tell you that you are not alone. And if you spend a couple of days, or weeks if necessary,  seriously, you can become many times more knowledgable, and would be in a better position to do things. From day one, you can expect to achieve with increased productivity levels, both from you and your team.
Though I believe people are not using this to a level it is possible. But for a truly dedicated and obsessed people, there’s so much that’s possible in so short time, they should be able to make a foundation, with the maturity, that’s possible with the relevant knowledge, that’s available, and all for free.
Is it equivalent to saying good bye to keeping trade secrets?
Well may be… least in cases, where Internet is the main medium through which businesses have been conducted up on.
Every one of the entrepreneurs, in the above mentioned examples, have their strategies, though nothing is confidential in there.  These have, whether explicitly expressed or not, the goal of being recognized for their expertise, and thought leadership.
It won’t happen, while they keep a vast info they have access to, confined to only themselves. The basic stratagem is to be known as leader in their respective field, and for that, they share the best and the most of what they know. Needless to say, it won’t happen overnight.
Thanks to this strategy, no one needs to obtain a certification, or a recognition from an authority, to be be recognized. They are getting their recognition by sharing and growing at the same time, and more than all, by caring about whoever is following them. This is being the newly recognized rule for building strong foundation, and it will have multiplier ( compounding ) effect…
It’s not easy…it’s often years of dedicated effort, spending in understanding the domain, and challenges people face, exploring to understand possibilities and limitations, also by associating with experts as well as others in the field, and learning from their experiences too.

Why it works?

In our daily lives , honesty is something rare to find. If we come across someone, who is successful, who is also honest, sharing his journey, that includes various tactics, and strategies, transperantly that we can directly use, what more we ask for?
Even before we realize, we are sold.

Is it called ‘thought leadership’ ? Then what about monetizing?

Of course the giving away all expertise and accumulated knowledge is not like doing charity, but perhaps, it’s a necessary expenditure they must incur. It’s the foundation, to apply their monetizing plans into action.
Expectation from their blog might be ideas/ techniques from others, often expressed in comments, or sale subscribed membership, or sale of some course or software application, that’s again going to help their followers.
The trust and authority built over a period of time, and during too many interactions, with the followers, and other fraternity in domain, come in a very handy way, to launch any product, or course…to monetize.
Often by this time, the followers will have gratefulness built up, and even might be asking for some way to compensate for their learning, and as perhaps they themselves must have seen results by applying what they learned on this page….and this drives sales for the products launched into market.
 Transperant Marketing
This monetization follows perfectly the principles mentioned in Gary VeynerChuck’s Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. There have to  jabs,  before you can place right hook in front of your audience. A great book understanding how these online empires are built, a must for any online professional or entrepreneur, and those principles apply for real world offline as well.

Is it closely linked to personal branding?

Yes, personal branding so are always there, where as Internet makes it possible for anyone to build personal brand. While it’s simple, it’s not easy to put years of consistent effort, to build a brand ior tribe of followers. But if you are able to build, you are literally sitting on a cash cow, apart from having enormous personal and professional satisfaction.
Here, we need to cite Seth Godin, the renowned marketer….he is one of the biggest personal brands, and he does not publish books in conventional way….he self publishes, and vowed never to publish in conventional way. He’s a pioneer, and can afford to do in his own way, thanks to the enormous brand he built over years.
Neil Patel and Pat Flynn fall into same category, they have been serving their followers with cutting edge info, and often you can see they won’t hold back anything from sharing on their page, and the result is anytime they publish and launch their products, it’s sold like hot cakes, for all among fraternity and followers. Also some of the affiliate marketers, and due to trust they have built over a period of time, followers can often blindly subscribe to their recommendations.
It’s helping everyone. These thought leaders serve themselves by financial gains, and actual sellers benefit, as they don’t much incur costs unless and until actual sales happen, that too after return date is over, and actual buyers buy on the basis of trust, and often at some discount.
And there are many, and some of their websites, mentioned at the end of this post, and you will vastly benefit by following the same.

Beyond commerce or business ?

It’s like beyond conventional ecommerce, but certainly not beyond business, and infact it’s changed face of business, in this latest Internet economy.
Here, as mentioned here earlier, all three parties get benefited, catering to everyone’s satisfaction.
Knowledge is not power, any more? In this over abundance age. Is experience is the implicit differentiater?
Yes knowledge is in over abundance, and hence no move valued… kidding 😉
Knowledge is always power…..only the context changed.
Previously there used to be scarcity of knowledge sources….hence whoever is having right knowledge is powerful and supreme.
And in this over abundance of knowledge, picking the right knowledge, without getting distracted is even difficult task. Right knowledge, that helps in action, is powerful, and is highly valued in the market.
Whoever can give right knowledge, and shares transparently, can command highest reward.

Personal experiences…

5-6 years back, LinkedIn was relatively new, and I used to just contact the target prospects, and getting business from them is as easy as getting yes or no., at least with some.
We resorted to certain tricks to contact maximum target crowd, so numbers worked in our favour. All those tactics, we learned by trail and error, and hence we were certainly not prone to share the same with anyone.
But sooner or later, many learnt, and we see competition heating up, to an extent that, target crowd stopped responding, unlike before.
Here by not sharing the acquired knowledge with anyone, we lost in two ways: by not sharing, we did not get much new tactics the others must have learned in the process. Also, we were not recognized for what we learnt, as we chose not to share it.
In hindsight, if we only shared what we learnt, we could have continued the learning curve, and hence benefiting by business increase, also being leader of the pack to the extent.
Of course, this thought leadership, aka transparent marketing, is not remedy for all.
Transparency is remedy for stunted growth, and enabler of overall growth, where it matters, but not otherwise.
It’s nothing but content marketing, targeted to touch where it matters most.  It’s setting the tone of digital commerce.
The power of transperancy has been shown time & again, by world’s renowned investor, Warren Buffet, with his annual shareholder reports.
You may not buy anything from him, nor have a chance, but you can’t help being his fan, after reading his annual letters to shareholders.
Also in our digital marketing fraternity, Moz’s income reports are worth checking…about the transperancy … they follow, that’s helping them in manyways.
Some other such blogs I noticed sofar:
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This list is by noway exhaustive, limited only to the extent that the constraints I have with my time.

Closing thoughts

In this era of exploding uncertainties, a blog with transparency as central principle is set to compete with only similar transparent ones, and no one else might be there to compete with.
We @ BrandDigi, will strive to be honest and transparently, and see how it pans out.
What about you? Please feel free to share your brush with such experiences in your life and businesses.

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