Client Trust: How to Build It & How to Keep It

By Keenan-Nagle | January 4, 2022 | Category: Marketing Strategy

I was recently asked by a marketer just starting out in their career for some advice. It was a simple request. They only wanted to know the most important thing they should focus on to have a long and successful marketing career. (Hey, if you are going to ask a question, you might as well go big.)

There are a number of different things I probably could have responded with. But to choose one, it had come down to building trust. I don’t know how you survive very long, let alone have success as a marketer without it. Marketing is predicated on it. Every ad ever is telling someone ‘Trust me. You really want this product or service and you are going to be thrilled when you get it.’

When you are working in marketing, if you don’t build trust with your clients, internal or external, you better be prepared for a constant job search.

So how do you build that trust and then maintain it over time? In my experience, it’s not a complicated list. But sticking to it consistently isn’t always easy. Especially when you are in a time crunch and need to ensure project profitability. Here’s a top 10 of client trust builders and maintainers that I have found useful over the years.

  1. Set proper expectations from the outset.
    It’s so simple, yet so often missed. You over promise. You don’t address the client’s understanding of the scope right up front. Or maybe nobody takes good notes and everyone walks away with a different interpretation. If you set the expectations correctly from the jump, reinforce them regularly and then actually deliver on them, you are setting a solid foundation of trust with you client.
  2. Be a problem solver.
    Do your homework. Identify the core challenges your client is facing, show them you understand it and come to them with a solution.
  3. Listen.
    Everyone wants to be heard. Especially a client. You very quickly build trust when they know you hear them and are acting on what they’ve shared.
  4. Avoid the quick sell. Always.
    Nothing kills client trust quicker than making them feel like they are being sold to. Once that happens the first time, everything you bring thereafter is going to be looked at with a bit of skepticism.
  5. Only recommend what you know is good for them.
    Sometimes the customer/client is not always right. You need to be able to let them know that in a respectful way. If they understand that you are truly looking out for their best interests, that goes a long way in building their trust in your recommendations.
  6. Be transparent.
    Be straightforward and truthful in your communications. Mom taught me that one as a kid and it is just as helpful now with clients as it is everywhere else in life.
  7. Share useful information.
    Remind clients that you are thinking about them by providing relevant and interesting information without a sales agenda. Do it simply because it’s something that would benefit them to know about.
  8. Let them know what is happening before they ask.
    Be proactive. Don’t make a client track you down. If they have to inquire as to what is going on, that means it’s too late. It leads them to question if they really are a priority.
  9. Deliver consistently at all levels.
    Building the trust of your client and becoming their go-to marketing resource takes time. But losing that trust can evaporate quickly if you get lazy with the little things. Nothing erodes the relationship and the faith your client has in you faster than inconsistencies in the day to day.
  10. Admit to, own and fix mistakes quickly.
    They are going to happen. How and when you handle them will make all the difference in whether or not a client will trust you going forward.

Paul Leese, MBA is the Executive Vice President of Keenan-Nagle Advertising, Inc. located in Allentown, PA. He specializes in marketing strategy development and execution and has over 20 years of successful experience in marketing, management, team building, media services and strategy development for non-profits, large corporations and small businesses.

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