Working With Clients in the Digital Age: How to Respectfully Implement Your Strategy

When clients approach agencies for help with marketing, they often have a predetermined strategy in mind. Many clients believe their plan is sound and that they only need an agency to help them execute it.

In reality, digital agencies often need to adjust their clients’ plans to achieve a more reliable outcome and a higher ROI.

In this article, we offer tips to help you respectfully persuade clients to adjust their existing marketing strategies.

You can use the information to help your agency better communicate with clients who are reluctant to consider changes to their marketing plans.

Get to Know Your Clients

Listening to your clients is the key to building a relationship in which you can approach them with constructive criticism. 

Instead of eagerly jumping in to correct clients or prove their strategy wrong, first focus on building trust through listening. 

There are several things you should learn about your clients before you discuss implementing changes to their strategy:

  • Clients want to know that you understand their industry: If you don’t have experience in their industry, devote a healthy amount of time to learning about their niche before your first meeting.
  • Clients want to know that you understand their product: During your first meeting, ask questions about their brand and product, listening closely and gathering as much information as possible.
  • You need to know what your client really wants: Discovering your client’s hopes and concerns, and learning what motivates them, can help you communicate more effectively throughout the entire course of your relationship. When a client feels that you “get” them, it builds the type of trust that’s not easy to replace.

Patiently listening to your clients also reveals unique brand traits that help you build winning campaigns.

For example, when Farmer’s Insurance needed to stand out among its competition with a budget 10X smaller than its competitors, RPA agency focused on a trait that made Farmer’s unique: its massive experience with insurance claims. 

Farmer’s “We Know From Experience” campaign brought some of its bizarre, but authentic, insurance claims to life through entertaining mini-movies, commercials, and onsite videos.


The We Know Experience Campaign boosted visits to by 115%, raised initiated quotes by 127%, and increased consideration by 33%. It also increased brand awareness, driving over 3.4 million people to its accompanying “Hall of Claims” website.

Listening to clients helps you better understand their products, brand, and purpose, while also contributing to campaign success. 

The trust you build through listening helps you negotiate strategy changes and adjustments.

Communicate Effectively

When you communicate well, clients are more open to your recommendations.

Agencies can improve client communications in several ways:

  • Frame your suggestions in a positive light by considering your tone of voice, using positive language, and avoiding the word “no.”Combining a non-threatening tone of voice with positive language phrasing can go a long way toward preventing clients from feeling defensive.
  • Show and ask for examples when communicating with clients.: Sometimes clients misunderstand words and phrases that are commonly used by agencies. Using visual examples to reinforce what you’re explaining helps clients better understand the strategies you’re discussing. For example, if you mention “flat lay photography,” show them a couple of flat lay images so they’re clear about what you’re referring to.
  • Paraphrase and summarize your conversation at critical points throughout the conversation. Paraphrasing assures your client that you’re listening and ensures that you’re understanding each other.
  • Avoid industry terms when speaking with clients. Many clients are cynical about words they consider “jargon,” such as “integrated,” “full service,” and “storytelling.” Avoid using jargon or terms that make your clients feel like an outsider. Instead, phrase your conversation in clear language that clients can understand.
  • Share consumer insights, statistics, and data to back up your recommendations. 
  • Share case studies that show how you or your agency have successfully handled similar situations in the past.

Backing up your ideas with proof such as data and case studies will help your clients open up to new ideas.

Listening Well and Communicating Effectively Builds Trust With Clients

Listening closely and communicating effectively helps you earn the trust of your clients so you can respectfully advise their strategy.

Grayson Kemper is a Content Manager for Clutch, a platform designed to help business services vendors and buyers connect.

Related resources

Best interviews of 2018

As we roll into the end of year break and spend less time working “in” the business, I like to spend time thinking about our business at a higher level. That means thinking about the direction we’ll take the business in 2019, marketing channels and new cool ideas we can implement.

One of the first things I do is get a handful of podcasts together that I can listen to while driving or in between all the crazy events going on this time of year.

If you’d like to do the same, here are the best Agency Highway episodes of this year so you can queue them all up for the holidays.

This list is made up of interviews that:

  • Were the most popular based on number of downloads
  • Resulted in the most comments or emails from you
  • Have a super cool, easy to implement take away

Most Popular Episodes

Episode 3 – Work Less Make More with James Schramko

This comes as no surprise. The topic summarises why many of us got into business – because we want to work less and make more.

I've been following James for over 7 years, am a member of Super Fast Business (his membership) and was a member of Silver Circle. His advice has pushed me in the right direction on many occasions.

We discuss a variety of things. My favourites were calculating your effective hourly rate (how much you really earn), delegation, hiring a team, and being more effective.

Episode 2 – Pricing websites with Corey Dodd

Corey is one of the most helpful and knowledgeable agency owners I’ve met. He’s always helping out in the Facebook group with real, no BS advice. This interview is exactly the same.

Knowing how to price your services is a skill that you can improve. Many of us don’t know where to start with pricing. Even if you do, it’s human nature to want to understand how you compare and where you sit in the market.

In this interview, Corey shares his process of how he prices websites. This includes where to get started, what to do if you don’t have a portfolio, how to raise your prices and use techniques like price anchoring.

Episode 9 – Creating a client management system with Jennifer Bourn

Automation is always one of my favourite topics. Apparently, it’s one of yours too.

Managing and communicating with clients can be time consuming. But there are several places you can use automation to make it much easier on yourself and still keep your clients in the loop.

Jennifer and I chat about using automation in a few different ways. This includes:

  • Educating your clients before you start work and throughout the process
  • Sending them helpful info through the process
  • Getting input from them when you need it
  • …and more

Favourite Episodes

These episodes generated the most feedback from you through emails and comments. They also have some brilliant takeaways.

Episode 11 – Building recurring revenue in your digital agency with Troy Dean

Many of you (and I) expected this to be a chat about creating website maintenance plans. It immediately got flipped on its head and Troy explained how you can build real recurring revenue.

I received emails after this episode from people saying that this completely changed the way they think about their business.

Episode 19 – SEO for your agency and your clients with Phil Singleton

SEO is one of my favourite services for clients, and one of my favourite topics. Phil explains how you can add recurring revenue with SEO and how to actually deliver results.

My favourite part was how Phil wows clients with an initial quick win that you can easily implement as well.

Episode 21 – Consistent leads without outreach with Brennan Dunn

Brennan has been helping freelancers and agencies grow their business for years. Chances are you’ve heard of Brennan’s community, Double Your Freelancing.

Many coaches encourage specialisation as one of the most important things to do to grow. Brennan challenges that, and explains how he used local events to grow his non-specialised agency, fast.

He also go into how he turns almost everyone he spoke to into a lead and snagged Fortune 500 clients with the same system.

Episode 17 – An epic lead generation strategy with Jason Resnick

I took a lot of notes in this episode. Jason drops a couple of lead-generation gems that I’d never heard anyone talk about before.

On top of that he shares his system for staying top of mind with clients and get more referrals.

Episode 10 – Using systems to get from overworked to having time freedom with Grant O’Neill

Grant had one of the biggest turnarounds I’ve seen in someone. When I first met him, he was working crazy hours. Way more than most sane people would work.

A couple of years later and he was gearing up to remove himself from the business entirely.

So of course I had to have him on to share the story of this epic transformation.

This is a great episode about systemisation and outsourcing.


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