In this article, we’re going to talk about how transparency builds strong relationships with your client and the many other benefits of adopting that value.
Transparency is so much more than honesty. When translated to our line of work, transparency is efficiency. When you invest significant resources into your digital marketing strategies, you’ll need to know whether you’re meeting your company’s goals and seeing a good return on investment (ROI). With today’s technology and with the high potential of communication tools, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have visibility into your marketing agency’s workflow, performance, and development plans.
Transparency is a hot topic in advertising. Stakeholders and many important advertisers in key roles have long felt a lack of clarity in their relationships with agencies. Companies ask themselves: What are they paying for? Are they getting all of what they want from their spending? Advertisers’ leadership teams have concerns about agency transparency and their metrics, or the lack of them, in three primary areas: media debates, programmatic fees, and data and tech sharing/ownership.
- Media debates: Agencies often don’t disclose or pass along to their client’s rebates they receive from agencies.
- Programmatic fees: Programmatic digital media buys often carry difficult-to-understand and at times opaque agency fees whose face value is small, but can add up when numbers are involved reaching into the millions.
- Data and tech sharing/ownership: Agencies typically share only the data generated by ad tech platforms, which may not provide an optimal view for clients. They are also sometimes in charge of parts of a client’s tech stack, even though advertisers can achieve data transparency and greater control by running the stack in-house.
Ensure that your clients are up to date on their project´s status and how their investment is benefiting their company. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of transparency and how we apply a transparent and efficient approach to our client work.
This article will focus on how advertisers can drive changes that ensure greater transparency. Marketing organizations that tackle this issue effectively can get access to rebates and reinvest in growth. They can also put their relationship with agencies on a sounder, more trusting footing, where both parties can work together, in partnership, to achieve win-win outcomes.
Transparency will allow for alignment. It will dictate scopes, KPIs, and billing. It will also establish guidelines for communication, monthly reporting, and dependencies.
Transparency is the golden ticket to a successful client-agency relationship.
As we’ve been saying, transparency traduces in truthfulness. Being truthful matters in personal relationships, it’s a vital element of healthy professional ones. However, there are some important differences.
In a work context, it’s easy to cross the line into oversharing. While allowing employees to be privy to some decision-making processes and financial details are helpful, it can also be overwhelming to them. Particularly if your agency is struggling behind the scenes, maybe it’s not the best idea to induce a job-security wobble for your employees.
For example, sharing notes or slide decks from c-suite meetings is a meaningful gesture, whereas discussing a point of conflict in the key positions of the leadership roles with a lower-level member would be going too far.
Think of it as a parent-child relationship: you should be honest while maintaining propriety.
How to achieve a more transparent client-agency relationship
Be Open about scopes of work, strategy, and goals
Have you ever found yourself wondering “ How do I maintain a strong client-agency relationship?” or “What should I look for when hiring an agency?” The answer lies in a firm scope of work and alignment on expectations. Directly from the start of the relationship, both parties should agree on what success looks like. At the end of the day, the data should ultimately speak for itself.
It’s paramount that both parties remain as transparent as possible while goal-setting, too. Whether setting the scope of work or outlining relevant KPIs, remaining transparent on both allows either party to set realistic expectations about which deliverables are prioritized. An open and honest discussion about what’s expected and possible within budget can prime both parties for success.
Transparency can also help either party avoid “scope creep”: a continuous or uncontrolled growth in the project’s scope once it has already begun. While scopes of work can never capture every detail of an agency’s strategy, they can act as a general guide for the services and the number of hours allotted to the partnership. Alignment in exactly what’s covered within the scope of work permits clients to their deliverables and allows agencies to set a reasonable expectation of what will be completed by the end of the month.
Agree on a communication plan and boundaries
Just as in most successful relationships, a successful partnership between a client and an agency relies on solid communication. Therefore, a transparent communication plan is necessary to designate contact points for both parties and outline how and when they will communicate.
At the start of the relationship, an agency should establish a contact point within the client’s business and assign an account manager to spearhead engagement.
A weekly or monthly cadence for routine touch bases should be established to allow for timely adjustments to scope or deliverables. Likewise, it’s best to designate tools for various avenues of communication. For instance, chat platforms like Slack can be used for quick questions, while email or personalized dashboards can be used to monitor performance.
Clients must always feel their needs are heard and their pain points are understood. Remaining transparent about how and when communication will occur creates necessary outlets for clients to voice their concerns while still providing an agency with the time required to make headway. This way, both parties can remain aligned on results.
Reporting should be honest and clear and show progress
When it comes to reporting, transparency is critical for accountability. Clients should always know what they’re spending, where their money is going, and when. When an agency spends on behalf of the client, whether in ad dollars or general retainer hours, they must provide tangible proof of why these decisions were made and the results. Reporting is a method to share these details and celebrate wins, both big and small, together.
At the start of the client-agency relationship, both parties should align on reporting frequency and the report’s data. In my experience, I’ve found that the most successful way to remain transparent with reporting is to do so in real-time. All of our client partners are provided with a real-time dashboard to monitor their spending, KPI, and leads throughout the month. This data is placed into a formal report shared with relevant stakeholders at the end of each month.
Understand contracts and the billing process
When it comes time to establish financial details, transparency is a necessity for both parties. Clients have a responsibility to speak candidly about their objectives and budgets. In response, agencies have a responsibility to ask as many questions as necessary to ensure they’ve interpreted those objectives correctly. Transparent communication assures funds are allocated accordingly.
Remaining transparent about willing and payment matters ensures both the client and agency are comfortable and ready to take action. Most contracts can be restructured to account for clients’ needs and economic restraints. So long as the agency remains honest and upfront about billing, they can establish realistic expectations for the client. This way, no one is surprised when next month’s invoice is processed.
Transparency is key to a successful client-agency relationship
It’s no secret that every agency dreams of building a long-lasting successful relationship with clients. Every client also strives to form a reliable agency partnership they can depend on. The client-agency relationship must be built on a foundation of transparency and trust to ensure both parties are primed for success.
If you’re currently in a client-agency relationship that lacks transparency, take a step back and ask yourself why. when it comes to successful client-agency relationships, transparency will continue to reign supreme.
Benefits of Transparent Leadership
Giving team members a voice and new skill sets can bring about surprisingly positive results. While you might fear having too many hands, you could reach fresh creative solutions when you listen to new voices.
Even if your leadership team has the ultimate say, making an effort to bring others into the decision-making competencies gives your agency’s corporate culture, a transparency boost.
Radical honesty can also be a powerful tool for problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Extending Transparency to clients
When you do a good job of valuing transparency internally, you’ll see it reflected in the relationship your agency builds with clients, partners, and the larger community. Letting external contacts in on the good, the bad, and the ugly can improve their impression of the value you bring to the table.
The easiest way to implement transparency with clients is to expand and automate visibility into current projects.
Instead of being worried that greater visibility could encourage clients to find fault with the way your team operates, why not imagine the potential benefits of development opportunities in transparency with them:
- They could more fully understand the complications of your job, and therefore have more patience with the time it takes to see results.
- You’ll spend less time justifying your fees because they can see how much time you’re spending on each task and how you’re applying the project budget.
- When something doesn’t work, they’re witnesses to everything your team tried to avoid or solve the problem.
It may be nontraditional, but clients, like today’s employees, crave more open relationships with the people whose work they invest in.
Building trust with succession planning
Transparent succession plans reinforce the message that the agency recognizes the effort of its employees and values their experience. Talent management executives create a trustworthy environment needed to help the company retain top performers and their potential successors and reduce turnover, recruitment costs, and maintain human resources in check.
These initiatives consist of having an open dialogue about development opportunities and career paths for potential candidates and also ensuring that leadership development strategy won’t force top performers down paths they don’t to go and keep your talent pool.
An effective succession planning process fuels the proactive career development of future leaders and creates a distinct competitive advantage for their agencies. They are as transparent as possible and encourage clarity and integrity while minimizing politics. These components create a culture and atmosphere of trust and ongoing growth craved by any senior managers, which simultaneously promote development.
With voluntary turnover rates and retention an increasing challenge among healthcare organizations everywhere, my company is focusing on engagement strategies that will help us retain high-potential employees. Focused leadership development is communicated directly to succession plan participants which is key for this strategy.
Leaders everywhere lament the loss of high-potential employees who leave for better opportunities because they were either unaware of potential career paths or simply not engaged enough to stay.
Letting your employees know their skills and experience are valued dissuades top performers from leaving. It is recommended to provide top performers with leadership development opportunities as a way to drive engagement and satisfaction.
It’s also important to discuss employees’ career aspirations with them to gauge their interest in opportunities at your agency. A noted skill may not coincide with an employee’s ambition.
It’s all about communication and transparency, Being upfront with employees leads to both more effective succession plans, and more engaged leaders, all of this is achieved because of a transparent workplace environment.
How to achieve more transparency in the workplace
Being transparent in the workplace is a great way to create genuine and honest connections with employees. A transparent leader provides a strong foundation and encourages employees to trust the company. Consider the following steps to be more transparent in the workplace:
Speaking honestly to other employees means you explain how you feel and what you are thinking in a genuine manner. You state your true emotions and explain yourself so that others can understand. Honesty is very valuable in the workplace because when you are honest, especially about needing help, others can provide solutions for you. Otherwise, employees won’t know what is going on or how to assist you.
Disclosing information is similar to speaking honestly in regards to saying what you really mean. Disclosing information means not holding back specific details when talking to someone. It also means letting employees know what you mean to the fullest extent. Some ways to disclose information more easily are by setting up a time to meet with an employee and finding a private space to talk.
Asking questions demonstrates a sense of humility and transparency because you recognize your need to improve and learn. Asking questions is also a great way of encouraging others to explain what they know to explain what they don´t know. This environment creates a learning experience where people share their knowledge with others. Transparency is asking questions revealing any additional training that employees need and the difference in employee knowledge.
Whether you provide feedback through an evaluation or informally by conversation, providing feedback is a practical approach to being transparent. Providing feedback means giving someone positive and negative remarks on their performance project. When you are transparent, or when you build a reputation of being transparent, people are more accustomed to your feedback and take it more easily. Feedback informs employees on what they need to work on and acknowledges their efforts when they do well. When you are transparent, you give constructive feedback often.
Staying professional is a part of being transparent. Although transparency does mean sharing truthful information, it does not require that you disclose absolutely everything about yourself or go into great detail about your personal life. Also, make sure to respect employee privacy and not push them to be transparent when they are not ready. Instead, act as an example of transparency that they can look to for motivation and inspiration to be more open.
Being realistic is a great way to stay transparent in the workplace. When analyzing your business realistically, you become aware of positive and negative characteristics. Transparency means recognizing how your business is doing well and how it can improve. When you are realistic, you recognize what you and your company have to offer and you share your thoughts directly with employees.
Share business performance
If you’re in a management position, consider sharing your business performance with other employees. When you share business performance, you show statistics and analytics on how the company is doing, regardless of how good or bad the numbers are.
This approach might be challenging because the performance can be negative, but it is valuable information to share. Your transparency and willingness to provide this data make employees feel included and informed about company operations.
Benefits of being transparent in the workplace
There are many benefits of being transparent in the workplace, whether you are in a leadership role or a general employee. Consider why it is important to be transparent in the workplace and the following benefits:
Genuine relationships are built on transparency and trust. When you are transparent, authentic connections form with coworkers because you mutually help each other and share information. Genuine relationships grow from knowing one another openly right from the start. Open relationships are reliable, which makes them especially valuable in the workplace.
When you communicate clearly with employees, you avoid any misinterpretation. As a result, your conversation is transparent and easily understood. When you engage in clear communication, you encourage questions and give another person a chance to explain themselves again if necessary.
Improved productivity is another benefit of being transparent in the workplace. when employees are consistently transparent, they ask more questions, request help, and explain their reading. When there is transparency among employees, projects tend to finish faster because any confusion clears up immediately.
When you are transparent over time, employees trust you because they know you are always honest and open with them. Established trust is the core of a successful workplace because it welcomes respectful dialogue between employees and encourages positive interactions.
Proper Team Building
Creating strong workplace teams starts with assessing what type of teams the company needs. It also requires you to figure out which employee should be in what groups. When you are transparent, you let management know what team would suit you best and what kind of support you need.
For example, you might say you need help with managing project finances. This transparency lets your manager know that someone with financial expertise on your team will benefit you and, ultimately, the project’s success.
If you are a leader in your company, transparency can help employees feel prepared. For example, if you know your company will gain a highly important client, letting your employees know gives them time to prepare accordingly.
Similarly, if you are not in a management position, your transparency can still help team members prepare for situations. For example, suppose you are transparent in saying you are unfamiliar with a program. Because you let your coworkers know they can prepare ahead of time and find you the necessary support.
Efficient and Transparent Digital Marketing Services With COR
Here are some ways COR can help you improve transparency while managing a project.
It lets everyone see the big picture
Everyone wants to understand how his or her part contributes to the larger goals of team management or the company. By giving your employees visibility on the overall progress and the project scope, each person can see how his task fits in as well as what the other team members are relying on him to finish before they can complete their part.
In task management, if the whole team can view task status, a team member can jump in to help an overwhelmed coworker instead of turning to another manager to complain about slow progress. Giving every team member a view of the big picture by monitoring the project status encourages collaboration and initiative taking.
Let them see the data
Ever seen a report at the end of a project and thought “ well if I´d known that before”? Project managers must fight the impulse to keep report data and other information siloed: When everyone on the team has the ability to track project progress, run reports, and access data easily, each person is empowered to make better decisions and stronger contributions.
Team members that can access the project reports on hours used vs hours budgeted will be able to allow their own time more effectively and raise concerns earlier about the tasks that have become more time-consuming than originally planned. Giving everyone access to project data gives every team member ownership over the project and the ability to see how their work is contributing to the team’s progress.
Make collaboration easy
Teams that collaborate well get better results and a key factor in project collaboration is communication in project management. Open communication breaks down silos in interdisciplinary teams and keeps individual team members from working in isolation ( even if they’re working remotely).
Strong collaboration tools such as this one enable teams to identify and solve problems more quickly.
It may be kinda obvious but it really is a relief if everyone knows when things are happening:
- What is the stakeholder’s schedule and how does our project play into the bigger picture for them?
- What is the timeline for each task in our project?
- Who’s going on vacation next week?
- What events are coming up that might affect our work schedule?
Much time and frustration can be saved if everyone on the team knows what’s on the calendar.
Regular communication between teams and meetings
It’s essential to hold kickoff meetings with every team member present periodically to update everyone about the project restraints and progress. Involve everyone in brainstorming sessions and holding ask-me-anything sessions, and a regular ongoing sharing of initiatives, key metrics, challenges in project management, losses, and gains.
This makes the team feel validated and their contributions acknowledged.
Choosing the right project management tool
Like so many things, project transparency requires the right tools and the right software. Choosing COR can give you the framework you need for your team and the transparency needed to become even more successful. It will show everyone the big picture and let each team member hone in on her specific tasks.
It will have an easy-to-use reporting tool and various project management features so no one needs IT to support to get access to project data. This software can facilitate collaboration by providing a platform for immediate feedback, file sharing, and group discussion. And they can keep everyone on the same page with shared calendars and important alerts.
Why is transparency important in agencies you say?
Transparency and good communication are key to successful client-agency relationships. They assure the alignment of work towards the assets with each client’s needs, voice, and vision. Keeping your clients up to date about the project status will only benefit you. Be open to workloads, strategies, and common goals, both parties must be on the same train.
Agreeing on a plan and its boundaries is key; clients must feel as though their needs are heard. As reports go, there must be honesty in showing progress, it will strengthen the relationship with your client. Being transparent about economics ensures your client are comfortable with the project at hand.
As for succession planning on creative agencies, transparency in the process fuels the career development of your leaders; this will create an ideal environment for your workers. Software that can help you with this task, such as COR, will give you genuine relationships, clear communication of the actors involved, improved productivity, trust, competitive employees, and top professionals in the long run. Don’t miss it! Start implementing these tips in your workplace! It is a win/win scenario.