Trust is an essential ingredient for the successful agency – client relationship
“Trust” has become the subject of much discussion not only in business, academia and the media but also in a daily life. In this blog, I will talk more about the role of ‘Trust’ in building the relationship between agency and client.
One beautiful day, I had a chance to meet Ms. Le Thi Van who is the current Brand Manager of DHG Pharma to talk more about the effect of ‘Trust’ to her work and how to build it as a key to success in marketing industry. DHG Pharma is a big brand in Vietnamese market which manufacture and trade in pharmaceuticals, dietary supplement and cosmetics.
Reproduced from Van 2012
Having 8 years of experience in this industry, Ms Van now has an important position in a company as a brand manager. “I’m so lucky that I can get my favorite job when I graduated from the university”, she shared. Besides many required characteristics to get success in marketing, she said that a marketer needs to know how to build trust as a key factor in a relationship.
According to Halliburton & Poenaru in 2010, trust is defined as the evaluations of 3 complementary dimensions which are competence, or credibility; integrity, or honesty; and empathy, or benevolence. There are two generic forms of trust in the agency – client relationship: Pre-Experiential Trust and Experience-Based Trust (Davies & Prince, 2005). Experiential trust stage is the time client and agency haven’t meet each other, they judge each other and decide the most suitable agency base on all the information they have. Client “trusts” the agency based on the reason such as agency’s membership in trade networks, financial strength, range of services, and match with client’s personality. In the stage two that the client and agency develop their relationship into experience-based trust. This stage is also called testing time that agency and client identify their roles through observation of working procedures and require the intention to maintain that relationship from each other.
“People want brands to stand for more than just a product, all they need is a personal idea that they can believe in…”
Ms Van starts sharing her own experiences relating to marketing area. She said that trust is really important because the clients find agencies for leadership in their expertise. Trust links the demand of the clients with how the agency satisfies the clients. Without trust in their agency being able to deliver, the relationship is broken. Additionally, she also gives an advice that before having a meeting with the clients, be well-prepared and always ready for any risks. “When clients require two ideas for the presentation, you have to prepare one in the project and one in your mind. The extra one in your mind do not need to be very excellent just incases they do not like the first one. Moreover, it shows you afford and put the passion and serious attitude for the contract”, she added.
“This is a rocky road, and it is very difficult to get things on track”
According to Galford & Drapeau in 2003, it takes time, diligence, understanding, and investment to build a strong and long –term relationship between agency and client. Furthermore, this process often relates to the sharing of private information. It is believed that in a relationship, the bond that has been built can be if trust does not exist. Additionally, Lamons (1992) suggests that money is one of the big elements make the relationship reduced. In many popular situations, client wants to reduce their budget on the advertising, they will decline the time they require agency to work. This restrain will influence dramatically on the quality of the advertising.
“In this competitive market, there are many product have the same function with others. The marketers have to find out the difference of the product to persuade the client and defeat other competitors. To achieve this purpose, marketers have to persuade their client to spend more budget. This is really a hard mission”, Ms Van expresses the difficulties in her job.
Ms Van gives her advices for “newbie” in this industry. “Maintain a long-lasting, trust-based relationship by taking them go to the journey with you, then that journey becomes a new goal for the agency. However, how to handle this task is really challenging.”
She keeps silent for a while and asks me: “Are you afraid of this job already?”. She said that although trust is very important for this job, it only works when marketer has a clear plan as well as predict about the risks. Remember! If you get stuck, just talk to your clients then find out what can help them in their abilities. And the most important thing is to be honest about what realistic problem needs to happen to satisfy their short and long-term goals.
At the end of the talk, she shares to me a favorite quote of William Arthur Ward, that she always thinks about when she has difficulties in job.
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
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Davies, Mark, and Melvin Prince. 2005. “Dynamics of Trust between Clients and Their Advertising Agencies: Advances in Performance Theory.” Academy of Marketing Science Review no. 2005 (11):1-32.
Galford, Robert, and Anne Seibold Drapeau. 2003. “The Enemies of Trust.” Harvard Business Review:89-95.
Halliburton, C & Poenaru, A, 2010, ‘The Role of Trust in Consumer Relationships’, ESCP Europe Business School, EU
Lamons, Bob. 1992. “Agency-Client Relationships Grow More Adversarial.” Marketing News no. 26 (21):13.
Van L, 2012, Conversation, December 22, 2012.