Digital marketing is a tough business. It can be overwhelming, risky, and expensive for small business owners who want the most value for their marketing dollars but are unsure how to spend those dollars wisely.

One purpose of marketing is to establish a company’s brand—it may evolve along with the company, but the core values should remain the same and their marketing should reflect that.

And let’s face it—any marketing professional will agree it can be a tough sell, especially when a client has that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality. In other words, they’re satisfied with the business they’re getting from their current marketing efforts, so why change what’s working?

How To Build Trust With Clients: 5 Tips For Marketing Agencies

There are a few problems with that mentality. First, it’s easy for a company or sole proprietor to grow complacent and stale with their marketing.

There’s a high level of trust in their workplace, both with their team handling their marketing and the core customer base they’re focused on, and they aren’t looking to make any major changes in how they promote their business. This way of thinking can hurt them in the long run.

If a business’ audience has seen the same old ads or finds the same content on their website every time they visit (even if it’s been several years since their last visit), what does that say about the company?

Perhaps they resist change or have simply overlooked their site’s content. People notice small details. If a company’s website mentions their accountant who left three years ago, that’s a problem. If they neglect their website, could they be too busy to give new customers the care and attention they need and deserve? Maybe.

But let’s focus on the companies who want to up their marketing game, even if they’re not sure how to do it. They have an end goal in mind, and willing and able team members to help get them there. Now, they just need a plan and the right tools to carry it out.

Enter the marketing agency. Whether the agency handles a client’s marketing from start to finish or merely acts as a consultant in a one-off project, it’s important for the partnership to be a mutual fit. The agency and client will be working closely together for a minimum of a few weeks (depending on the scope of the project), so they must learn to trust each other.

building trusts with your clients is essential to keeping clients

So as an agency representative, how do you build trust with your clients?

First, it’s important to remember that trust is built on both sides. The client will have to do some soul-searching and answer some tough questions, so they should feel comfortable enough with you to do that.

Your role as the guide through all things marketing is to know when to gently nudge the client and when to pull back. This calls for a high level of emotional intelligence (EI)—the innate ability to “read” people by paying attention to their body language and nonverbal cues. It’s a skill that can take a long time to cultivate but is invaluable when it comes to working with all types of client personalities.

Once the client decides to work with you, here are five ways to put a few building blocks in place to build trust and keep the working relationship as transparent and mutually beneficial as possible.

1. Ask The Right Questions

Many business owners immerse themselves in their livelihood and automatically assume everyone in the wider world understands who they are and what they do.

Unfortunately, they are often disappointed to find this is not the case. It’s the marketing consultant’s job to not only help the owner promote their core business, but dig deeper and establish their business philosophy and mission statement.

When the owner has a clear picture of their business, it’s easier to create and execute long-term marketing plans and short-term marketing campaigns.

Building trust with a client wouldn't happen with out listening and asking questions.2. Simply Listen

The business owner could very well have an ultimate end goal in mind, even if they aren’t sure how to articulate it. Let them explain their vision. Some entrepreneurs are big thinkers but not crazy about the tiny details; on the other hand, they might get so hung up on little details, the overall big picture gets lost along the way.

Your job as the marketing project management professional is to listen to the client, and ultimately guide them toward the end result they’re looking for by asking pointed questions about their vision.

3. Under-Promise And Over-Deliver

You’ve listened to the client and think you have a pretty good idea of what they want. Now it’s time to put those ideas into action. Work up a prototype of the website redesign they want or deliver an email newsletter sample prior to the agreed-upon deadline and give them a few days to digest it and provide feedback.

But take it a step further. Throw in a few sample blog posts (did the owner know he needed a blog?) or a new tagline for the business. As a marketing professional, it’s important to not only recognize a client’s need but have a solution to fill that need before the client even mentions it.

4. Meet Them Where They Are

For one reason or another, a client may not be able to carry out the full marketing plan they envision. Maybe their marketing budget has been cut. Maybe the upper management wants to go in a different direction.

Maybe they’ve made staffing changes and they’ll have less manpower to carry out the campaign. Or maybe the sole proprietor you’re working with is having second thoughts about rolling out such an ambitious campaign.

Part of your role is to alleviate fears, assure them you can still deliver the project you were hired to do (although, rather than the ambitious 1,000 email newsletters you intended to send for the client, perhaps you scale it back to 500 as they narrow their target market even further), and remind them you’re with them every step of the way.

Remember—the project scope can change at any time, so be prepared for last-minute edits or revisions.


digital marketing newsletter content tips contentmender

5. Don’t Push

No one likes a pushy salesperson, so keep yourself in check as you work with your client. Ask for feedback but don’t demand it (as a marketing pro, you should be used to constructive client criticism; don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side in that regard, but take the clients’ feedback and use it to make the project exactly what they want) And always stay on the project timeline you agreed upon but allow the client to work at a pace that’s comfortable for them.

If the project carries on for too long without a result, circle back with the client and ask more questions like:

  • What do you like about the project?
  • What do you dislike?
  • How is the project similar to or different than how you envisioned?
  • What changes would you like to see?

Ultimately, you want to wrap the project on or before the deadline, at or under budget, and you want the client to be happy with the end product.

Marketing professionals—how do you build trust with your clients?