As a marketing professional, what’s the most important aspect of your job? Meeting client deadlines? Delivering quality work? Hitting metrics? If you ask me, I think it’s trust. Establishing trust with your client is the lynchpin of your relationship; without this it becomes increasingly difficult to make your program work. After all, you wouldn’t take recommendations from someone you don’t trust, would you? But how does one establish trust? While there are no hard fast rules, and it is earned differently from person to person, here are a few tips that I have come across in my experience.
- Give honest counsel and feedback. It may seem easier in the short term to merely do whatever your client says, but being an order-taker earns you neither respect nor trust. While there may be a long list of why a company seeks the help of an agency, it’s likely that you made the cut because of your expertise and ability to help meet the company’s program goals, whatever they may be. If you don’t offer honest counsel, you’re not actually performing the job for which you were hired. It’s important to remember that being a yes-man is ultimately a disservice to your client. And, maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather be seen as trusted advisor than a yes-man.
- Set realistic expectations. Building on the previous point, it’s important to be real with your clients around what they can expect from your program. Setting realistic expectations from the beginning of the relationship, whether around banner ad CTR or press release coverage, keeps everyone on the same page. It’s natural to want to over-sell metrics at the beginning of the relationship, but don’t forget you’ll be held accountable to meet them. Overselling metrics at the onset of a program could come back and bite you if they’re not met.
- Show your value. It might feel a little self-promotional to constantly tell your clients how great you are, but there are ways to present your successes that may feel a little more natural. If you’ve landed a piece of coverage in the key publication in their industry, don’t be afraid to tell them this is a big win! It’s also important to educate your clients along the way. For example, if your client isn’t familiar with the publication, give him or her a brief explanation as to why this was a great placement. Chances are, your client has to report on your program to someone above them; anytime you can equip them with information and prove your program is working, the better.
- Learn continuously. One of my favorite things about marketing is that it’s always changing! However, this means it’s important to take an active role in learning and educating yourself on recent developments and trends in the industry. As B2B marketers, we also need to educate ourselves on developments in our clients’ industries.
- Listen. You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Listening is key to developing a good working relationship with anyone, but it’s especially important for clients to know that you are hearing them and understanding their point of view.
I hope these are useful. Let us know if you have any tips that have worked for well for you!
Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Miles, Stuart. Catching Trust Word.
Tags: client relationships