Ancient philosopher Socrates believed the first step toward wisdom was to know thyself. We believe it’s also the first step toward sustained marketing success. The way you think of and speak about yourselves on the inside of your organization can have a big impact on how you tell your organization’s story to external stakeholders.
Working with a marketing agency can help you hold a mirror up to your business that makes sure what you’re telling yourselves matches up with what you want your external stakeholders to think and feel about you. Ensuring there’s alignment between the two is vital to consistent messaging and 100% worth the time and investment. And in the event you discover there’s daylight between what you think about yourselves and what your stakeholders think about you–well, that’s particularly valuable.
In practical terms, your discovery session is designed to help you and your agency partners reach a place of authenticity, trust, and shared vision. This is vital if you want to open up the possibility for killer creative work when it’s time to execute a plan. Why? The best marketing doesn’t look, feel, or sound like marketing. It feels like honesty.
It’s best to unearth these raw materials early on in the process since you’ll put them to work to guide and shape everything that follows, which may include:
- Development of your brand strategy
- Assessing your current marketing/messaging efforts
- Benchmarking yourself against the competition
- Determining your audiences and creating marketing personas
- Arriving at a shared set of facts that guide your team
- And more!
What is a Discovery Session?
Like the name suggests, a discovery session is all about fact-finding. Your agency partner is going to ask a lot of questions designed to get you and your team to think critically together about your company, your competition, your brand, and your goals. Think of it as a kind of first date. Unless it’s a serious love connection, you’re probably not going to get too far into the weeds, but you’ll come away understanding the broad strokes.
Practically speaking, you’re going to want to focus on the big getting-to-know-you questions. Specifically, your discovery session may cover questions regarding:
- The current state of your company (strengths, challenges, opportunities).
- High-level questions about your competition.
- High-level market research.
- Where you’d like to take your organization.
- Any obstacles that could hold you back.
- The values that drive your organization.
- Shared benchmarks for success.
This isn’t set in stone. There are no hard-and-fast rules. Not every discovery session needs to, or should, cover all of these items in any kind of comprehensive way. Because each client has unique challenges, your marketing partner should tailor your session accordingly.
The basic goal, however, is always the same: emerge with key takeaways and generate further discussion and reflection that leads to deeper insights. Again, this is foundational to executing your shared vision with authenticity later on.
It’s About Listening
We’re going to stick with the first date metaphor for a little longer. Have you ever had a date where the person you were with droned on and on about themselves? You know you have.
If your marketing agency isn’t using the discovery session to listen and learn, you’re not getting what you need out of them. A good discovery session facilitator is going to:
- Help put you and your team at ease.
- Listen more than they talk.
- Follow up on key questions and draw out vital insights from the discussion.
How You Can Help Your Team Prepare
The success of your discovery session also depends on the effectiveness of the team members you place into the room on that day. You can do a lot to help this process be a success by making sure the right people are in the room and are prepared to participate.
As a client group, you should be ready to:
- Share information proactively
- Be candid
- Be vulnerable and honest
- Enjoy the ride and have a little fun
Remember, this process is as much about getting you and your team to think critically about the organization as it is about helping your marketing agency understand your needs. Use the outside perspective you’ll get from your partner as a mirror to see yourself from a different angle.
You may just discover that the story you’re telling yourself needs a little nudge.
Looking to get to know yourself a little better?