Transparency and Trust can help you build strong Agency Relationships

How to Achieve Transparency and Trust with Your Agency Partners to Build Partnerships that Deliver the Best Results for Your Business


In today’s dynamic and ever-changing business landscape, strong partnerships are more important than ever, particularly in the field of marketing. These relationships often involve a range of agency partners who specialize in various aspects of marketing, from digital advertising and media to public relation and e-commerce. It is common knowledge that the most effective partnerships are built on a foundation of transparency and trust.

However, Marketing Procurement has been plagued with a perception by agency leaders and marketing colleagues that their only focus is on cost savings and that they do not help drive success and collaboration in their relationships with agencies.

How can Marketing Procurement professionals cultivate essential elements with their agency partners and marketing colleagues to yield partnerships that deliver the best results for their businesses?

The Importance of Transparency and Trust

Transparency and trust are not just buzzwords — they’re essential building blocks for any successful collaboration. When both parties are clear about their objectives, expectations, and limitations, it leads to:

  • Efficient communication
  • Reduced misunderstandings
  • Enhanced problem-solving capabilities
  • More innovative and effective solutions
  • Long-term, sustainable relationships

Steps to Achieve Transparency

Open Dialogue from the Outset: The first step toward transparency is open dialogue. Begin with an initial meeting where ALL parties (Marketing Procurement, Marketing, Agency Leaders etc.) can freely discuss their capabilities, limitations, and objectives. This is the time to align on overall goals, KPIs, and other metrics that will measure the partnership’s success. The key here is that ALL people who are stakeholders — key or peripheral — are IN the meeting and can actively participate in the conversation.

Detailed Scope of Work (SOW): Make sure to create a detailed Scope of Work (SOW) document that outlines tasks, deliverables, timelines, and responsibilities. This will serve as the roadmap for the partnership. here we often see Marketing professionals proposing a wide scope, as “plans will be agreed as we go along”. This is not a great decision for the business, as often we see scope creep, lack of the right agency staff on the business and constant discoussions about additional funding dollars for projects that are deemed out of scope — mainly due to poor SOWs at the outset. Statistics show that clients with “loose” SOWs in the first year, spend a lot of time and effort to firm up the SOW in following years as the constant back-and-forth is detrimental to the success of the business and relationship as a whole.

Regular Updates and Reviews: Consistent communication is key. Schedule regular check-in meetings to review progress, challenges, and any changes to the initial plan. This ensures that both parties are aware of and can adapt to evolving circumstances. Here, RAUS Global recommends solid Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) — every quarter. The meetings need to be planned well ahead of time, include ALL stakeholders (Marketing, Agency Leaders, Procurement and potentially Finance and Legal). All documentation should be sent as a pre-read so that the QBR meeting is productive in finding solutions, not discussing the problems.

Steps to Build Trust

Demonstrate Reliability: Meet deadlines, stick to budgets, and deliver what was promised. Nothing builds trust faster than consistency and reliability. Oftentimes, there are long lead-times on certain aspects of procurement deliverables. When setting deadlines, it is imperative to be realistic and deliver when you say you will. it goes for both sides, but Agency Leaders are often very punctual with information requests as they work in the client service business.

Open and Honest Communication: Transparency goes hand-in-hand with honest communication. If challenges arise — and they will — be upfront about them. Addressing issues head-on enables collaborative problem-solving and strengthens the relationship. This is where a pre-planned QBR is helpful to all stakeholders to be able to raise issues so that the group can solve them in collaboration. This minimizes a “us vs. them” perception and allows all voices to be heard at one time. It is important to limit/ eliminate “back-channel” discussions. They only create noise in the system and creates distrust and unproductive alliances.

Flexibility and Adaptability: The ability to adapt to changing circumstances, new information, or revised goals will show your agency partners that you are flexible and committed to mutual success. If Marketing Procurement is involved in current and recurring discussions with Marketing and Agency Leaders, most change i acceptable and everyone focus on solving the issue as opposed to discuss the issue. When Marketing Procurement is the last function to hear about a potentially serious issue, and requested to make a split-second decision that may harm the business, then questions, limits and acusations occur.

Assessing Partnership Success: Having established transparency and trust, the next step is to measure the success of the partnership:

  • Financial Metrics: ROI, cost-saving, and value generation.
  • Operational Metrics: Speed-to-market, process efficiency, and quality of output.
  • Relational Metrics: Surveys and feedback tools can provide insights into the level of trust and satisfaction in the partnership.

Transparency and trust are vital for creating partnerships that deliver the best results in the field of Agency Management. Achieving these qualities requires committed effort from ALL parties, from open dialogue at the outset to regular updates and reviews. By focusing on these elements, you lay the groundwork for a long-lasting, productive, and mutually beneficial relationship with your agency partners.



Christine A. Moore, Managing Partner, RAUS Global

Driving transparency and collaboration across marketing procurement, finance and internal audit