As an agency, we strive to be considered a partner, a trusted advisor with a dog in the fight. Our clients know we have their best interests in mind and we are always looking for the win because their success breeds our success. We aren't here to just check off tasks – we're here, together with our clients, to grow businesses. If your agency doesn't bring thought leadership or strategy services to the table – if they aren't helping you tie your marketing efforts to business goals, why are they your agency? Why would you want to pay experts for their expertise, only to tell them how to handle challenges, reach goals and increase performance? You wouldn’t!
This is why it is so important for us agency types to ask, 'why?' and mean it! Really really mean it. Our job as a trusted partner is to get to the core of why our clients want to do anything… We aren't always privy to every internal discussion and we don't always know which way the wind is blowing at Client Corp so it is critical we get to the business need that is driving the discussion we are having in the first place.
Client: "Hi Adam, we need a new website.”
Agency: “Ok, great, we can help with that. Why do you need a new website?”
Client: “After a few meetings with my boss and the team last week, we decided we need us a nicer website.”
Agency: “Who doesnt?? Tell me, why did you decide on a nicer site? How did that come up?
Client: “Well, my boss thinks our site is out of date and doesnt represent our new direction well enough.”
Agency: “OK, how does it miss represent you? What is it that the new site should do better or differently than the one you have now? Why is it missing the mark?”
Client: “Well, we aren't growing as fast as we projected this year and she thinks our website being out of date may be a part of the problem…”
Agency: “Ah, so slowed revenue growth led to discussions around a new website. You want your website to boost business and contribute more revenue. That new site needs to be geared toward and optimized for converting business, not necessarily to tell your story better. Is that right?”
Client: “Yes, you got it.”
Agency: “OK, what else came up in the discussions aside from the new website? Where else are you going to be putting your efforts? And why?”
Asking why a few times helped us get to the actual business case for this client thinking they need a new website. Had we just said OK at the first request, without trying to understand their real business need, we would be building a completely different site, with completely different goals in mind and that would have resulted in a miss for the client and a miss for us. A lose-lose.
You can’t solve problems without knowing what they are and you can't get to the core of the problem without a little digging. Do you want to grow your agency? Do you want better, more trusting clients? Start asking why, listen, understand, and ask why again. Peel that onion until you really grasp what led to the conversation happening in the first place. Then, and only then… can you begin to figure out the right solution and get to work.
Want to learn more about how we "think" as an agency? Read on.