Many factors, external and internal, play a role in agency growth. I know of one ad agency that has grown from small to relatively large (around 50 employees) in a very few years. Aside from their creative prowess, their financial prudence and excellent account service, this agency has a certain something that I seldom see in similar agencies, at least not to the extent that it is present in this agency. That something extra is the trust factor.
The agency’s two owners absolutely exude trustworthiness. They are Midwestern, middle-aged gentlemen who speak, act and perform with reliable competence. Their trustworthiness is clearly evident to clients, vendors and the agency’s employees, ensuring strong, long-term, positive relationships. This is tremendously important as it relates to agency growth. Most businesses work with service providers they like and trust, and these two owners definitely fit that bill.
Following is some advice on improving your trust factor and ultimately your business success.
Projecting Trustworthiness. Remember, it is not your creative, media planning or interactive skills that attract success; it is projecting your ability to reliably and repeatedly deliver results. The rest is icing.
Integrity and Sincerity. Trust is deeply linked to integrity (you say what you mean) and sincerity (you mean what you say). The person sitting across from you in a meeting instinctively recognizes that you can be trusted. Model this sincerity and integrity so employees learn to convey it, too. My favorite tactic for projecting sincerity is to look past a person’s status—client, vendor, prospect—and envision the person as a good friend. My ex-partner put it in his own words: “I treat all clients’ businesses as if they were my businesses.” This honest, focused, “I’ve got your back” approach goes a long way toward building trust.
Competence. Beyond good intentions, you need to be capable. Clients expect their agency to deliver certain skills and abilities, from great creative thinking to media expertise to technical chops. Set standards for how you will serve clients, and reward employees who consistently go the extra mile for your valued accounts. Competence extends to core competencies as well. Build expertise in key industries, categories or skills, and live up to your claims of expertise.
Reliability. Consistent delivery of all of the above ensures that everyone you do business with can trust you to deliver your best effort, every day. Reliability is almost a lost art in our modern era. Be the agency that never fails.
Integrity + Sincerity + Competence + Reliability = Trust
Do yourself a favor. Have your art department create a poster of this equation, and hang it throughout your agency. Make your trust factor your seal of success.