We have been deep in discovery land recently. Getting to know all our new clients. Translating their business goals into marketing goals. Getting to know their digital systems and numbers. Defining who their customers are, and what they need.
Discoveries happening everywhere.
This step is essential to creating the best possible strategy for our clients.
It avoids challenges down the track like excessive rework, because the stuff we create just doesn’t feel like them.
It means we’re more likely to get results, fast, because we’ve understood exactly who their customers are, what they need, and how our client’s solution meets that need.
Basically, we know it saves a lot of time, effort and tears later on.
Now, when we're doing this work, we have to try really hard not to give into assumptions. We have to avoid biases.
Those are the easy way out. They're a shortcut that - often - can force us to overlook the good stuff.
We're not the only digital business out there who starts with discovery. But we are the only one with our team. So we thought it was time to demystify our discovery process and explain exactly how we do it.
What is discovery?
In Big Blue Digital speak, discovery is “our process of ruthless prioritisation”.
There are countless ways to succeed in the digital world. We need to weigh and measure each against your goals. Only the best fit makes the cut - the best fit to your business, your goals and your resources. The outcome is a Partnership Roadmap - an honest and realistic blueprint of what's next.
We are digital problem solvers. At the end of the day, problem solving is a creative act.
But creativity isn’t a free-for-all. Creativity has to have boundaries.
For creative businesses, those boundaries are ‘the brief".
For us, our boundaries are what we put in place through the process of discovery.
A prioritised list of tactics to meet goals.
A document capturing your marketing messaging and tone of voice.
The start-point for an analytics model.
An overview of your Digital Ecosystem now, versus where it should be for maximum return.
So if we’re not running incredibly thoughtful discoveries, then we’re not setting ourselves - or our clients - up for success
But I’m still only taking about the end results of discovery, not the process itself.
Our first step is to jump into a room and get workshopping.
By that, we really mean interviewing.
Prodding the bits that it hurts.
Getting the good stuff out of our clients.
This is the first place where we have to be careful of bias and assumptions to get the best possible result.
In Thinking Fast, And Slow Daniel Kahnman said “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, when you are thinking it.”*
So if we go in thinking “let’s just clarify this one point” or if the client goes in thinking about the call they just finished, or the email they were just reading, or the ordering issue they just had… then we will likely make that thing more important to the conversation than it actually is.
So we think of ways to break out of those modes of thinking before we drive in.
No matter how much I know about a business to start with, I always preface any conversation with sharing our responsibilities.
My job is to ask questions to the point of annoyance. Your job is to act like you’re explaining your business to someone who has never heard of it.
We also set a ground rule to be specific to spot assumptions when they happen. For example, asking tell me about your last three customers and how they found you is a better questioning option than tell me about how your customers find you.
Once I’ve asked all the questions I can think of, it’s time for my best magic trick.
I believe that empathy is the number one tool in the discovery toolbox.
I’ve heard the businesses’ wants and needs. It’s time to balance that with the user perspective.
Well it would be great to sit down with a bunch of their customers, ask a lot of questions and find out what they really think. But that’s not always possible.
Instead it’s time to step into their shoes.
What might trigger them to look for a business?
What do they need before they make a purchase, book an appointment, download a document or whatever else the end goal might be.
What do they need to do next? And next? And next?
The trick here is trying to catch when you’re putting words in imaginary people’s mouths. Are you saying that they need a piece of content just because you have it? Or taking a step because it’s what you have done before.
The best option then, is to work with others to draw out these stories
Colleagues are great. But I love doing this with clients themselves. It gets people involved AND it’s a lot of fun!
Document and share
Yeah...it’s time to write up all those findings.
Some people don’t like this bit. I do. It’s great to take pages of notes and be able to articulate all those words in one or two statements (I do a much better job there than I have with this blog post!)
It’s our job to make sure that you can walk away from our discovery knowing exactly what to do next.
Your content plan. Your tone of voice and messaging strategy. Your social media plan.
It’s all yours.
We want you to up your skills as we work with you.
And - after talking to lots of clients who have been burnt by past relationships - we really do think this sets us apart.
* That book is great but it’s a hard read. Do yourself a favour and check out this speedy review for the same result.
** My actual favourite quote from the book is “couching familiar ideas in pretentious language is taken as a sign of poor intelligence and low credibility.” Even though I hate that the message itself is couched in pretentious language. I am, after all a writer.