Trust, Honesty, and Transparency from Your Agency

by James Stacey Genie Goals

Genie Goals gives some tips on how agencies can build trust with their clients.

When in discussion with someone from a brand, it’s not unusual for them to look at you like you’re the anti-Christ when you let slip that you work for an agency.

And, in truth, that reaction isn’t unfair.

Years of being burned by overpromising, opaque business practices and terrible reporting have left some brands wary of agencies.

It would, therefore, be a logical approach for the above video and this article, particularly given our bias, to spend our time proving that agencies are good and that you should use us.

That’s nonsense.

Instead, this is a “simple ways we’ve built trust with clients” article (hint: it’s no big secret that truthfulness, honesty, and transparency will make people trust you).

It’s our hope with this article and the above videos agencies will leave with the sense building trust is the only way forward, and brands leave with the confidence that not all agencies are out to get them.

That’s not our job

There are many agencies that will tell you, “Oh, but that’s not our job. That is the optimisation agency’s job.” Naturally, that isn’t an attitude that builds trust.

We prefer to have the attitude of… “Well, the commercial rate is nowhere it should be. We don’t do that here, but let me see if I can reach out to an agency or work with them. We can fix that, alright?”

Here, you build trust by being collaborative and by making the problem of the customer, your problem.

On mistakes

You build trust when something doesn’t go right. The phrase to avoid here is “That wasn’t our fault.”

You take ownership of your own mistakes, and you try to make it up. At Genie Goals, although we hate to make mistakes, as humans, we will. Our attitude is to say “We made a mistake, we’re sorry, it was for this reason, here is what we’re going to do about”

Ultimately, this is about taking ownership and being so confident in who you are that you have no problem talking to customers the way you would talk to your brother or sister.

On proactivity

You know what is better than solving problems? Anticipating them before they come up by being proactive.

You know what is even better than looking for solutions to things that might be problems? Looking for improvements on things that are also running well.

As humans, we appreciate people thinking about us and taking the time to try and improve our lives. That isn’t about creating agency relationships specifically – it’s just a statement that we all like to feel good, competent, and like we’re doing a good job.

On forgetting the money

The moment agencies need to do anything differently just to prove that it’s okay for brands to pay them, then they’re no longer working as an extension of the team. We prefer, to a certain extent, to forget that we need to get paid.

What does this mean?

It means doing the right thing, not the thing the client wants because they’re holding the cheque book. It means doing the thing that will work in the interest of the client because your knowledge and expertise tells you it is.

Sometimes, that loses you the contract. Others… it makes the relationship infinitely stronger as the client knows you have their best interests at heart.

On transparency

Transparency is a hot word in the industry right now. SaaS companies such as Buffer are leading the way with radical transparency, even going so far as to publish what their employees get paid.

Our view is that transparency is a must, but we do temper it to keep to the information our clients will find relevant. For example, it makes sense to share how a campaign is performing and what we’re doing – but our position would be that it doesn’t bear that much significance to the client on how much pay their exec is receiving.

On remembering humanity

The final point encompasses everything above. Your client is a human being. They want to feel like they are good at their job, like they are being treated fairly, like you are helping them, and you are putting the time and effort into elevating them.

Sometimes, when people walk through the doors of their company, it’s easy to lose themselves behind a brand. At Genie, we’ve found the best success when we’ve encouraged our team to be precisely the people they are outside of work inside our offices.

The result is true human connection which yields trust. Trust to deliver. Trust to do something different. Trust when creativity is brought to the table. And ultimately, trust and longevity in our client relationships.