Client: “I don’t like it. Can you make it better?”

Agency: “We designed and wrote this to your specifications. What should we change?”

Client: “I’m not sure. It just doesn’t feel right.”

If this situation feels familiar, you’re not alone. Professionals from many industries can relate to the challenge of presenting projects to stakeholders and clients. After spending weeks or months toiling over a design or marketing campaign given their specifications, it can be incredibly frustrating to receive tepid, vague, or even negative feedback from your clients.

One of the ways to decrease the pressure of the presentation meeting is to improve communication with your clients about your workflow and process. Increased transparency means you can get earlier, and more specific, feedback that will help you serve your clients and even save time in the long run.

Here are three ways to increase transparency with your clients, so they love the projects you produce.

1. Plan and write down your internal workflow.

To hit client deadlines, you have to reach internal project targets on time. To start, you should clearly define who is in charge of each project, since this individual will act as the point person for any questions your client might have during the development process.

Try to keep teams as small and targeted as possible so that you can plan a meticulous strategy. If you have a clear plan on hand, you will be able to address any issues your client brings up with a clear and justified answer.

2. Connect your marketing plan back to overarching business goals.

Your client is probably not an expert in digital marketing, community management, or social media strategy, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. They want to know how your work will help advance their business, but they might not understand the details of how your plan will do so.

When you present a new marketing strategy, always start by restating the client’s most significant goals as a company. Connect these goals to what you plan to achieve with the campaign. Not only will this framing prove to your client that your objectives are aligned, but it will also make it easier for them to give you feedback about specific aspects of the strategy that do not fit with their vision.

3. Prepare specific questions to probe their critiques.

It is relatively common for a client to provide vague feedback on a project when they don’t understand the theory behind design, marketing, or social channels.

If a client tells you he or she doesn’t like or understand your plan, here are a few questions you could ask to get the conversation started:

  • Is the CTA clear? Will your client understand how to take the next step?
  • Is there enough copy or too much?
  • Does the color scheme fit with your brand and your customer interests?
  • Will a new client understand what is being offered?

There are dozens of questions you can ask to probe further into a client’s feedback so that you can take action and improve the project. Don’t expect your client to express themselves clearly from the start; it is your responsibility to guide them through the feedback process so you can make necessary changes that fit with the overarching strategy.

The more you can share your internal work process with your client, the more they will trust you to turn in the project on time and to their satisfaction. Most importantly, after you finish a project or campaign, make sure to collect feedback about your client’s experience working with you to find out how you can improve for the next round. Over time, you and your clients will reach a rhythm so you can have more productive project presentations and meetings that provide better results for both parties.