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18th October 2017 3 min read

The Power of the Discovery Process

Categories — Thoughts

Making something known or visible through a process of discovery between an agency and its client is only achieved if both parties show up with an open mind and a willingness to actively participate.

Companies often undergo an exploratory workshop because they have lost clarity somewhere along the way. This may arise in different ways:

  1. The founder/s are jaded and disconnected from the company’s original value and mission
  2. A company is falling behind its competitors and no longer aware of its differentiating value
  3. A startup who’s struggling to find qualified customers and establish credibility
  4. A company that’s changed direction and needs to reposition itself and its message
  5. A company  with an incredible product but no brand

To awaken a client to seeing its potential, the agency has a responsibility to ask questions that provoke thinking, challenge statements and identify contradictions.

Companies contain a diverse collective of people that all contribute to this potential. One of the most valuable contributors to an exploratory workshop often tends to be the company founder. Being able to share the original vision and describe the journey that got the company to where it currently is is hugely insightful when understanding the brand’s reason for being.

Exploratory workshops should involve not just the founder, the marketing manager or the MD but also the guys at the coalface – the ones bridging the connection between brand and customer. A collective of varied opinions provides valuable context, therefore it’s essential that each contribution is encouraged and considered. The process benefits when everyone commits fully to the process remains unbiased and feels comfortable in sharing challenges and concerns without judgement.

Sometimes all stakeholders are aligned in how they see the company (inside out perspective). If this perception is also shared by the agency (outside-in perspective), then there is a very strong value proposition to work with from the get-go.

But this is not often the case. While most companies are aware of who their competitors are and where they sit in the industry, many are not fully aware of their own authentic value. A discovery process helps to open minds, mouths, and ears. Our role as an agency during the discovery process is to listen, challenge and reflect in real-time. It’s important that we are able to answer the following questions at the end of the session:

  • Does the target audience that the client is trying to reach feel like the right fit? Are they connected by the same values?
  • Are the market proposition and offering they have described easy to understand?
  • What value are they bringing to their customers? Is it unique? Does it meet their customers’ needs? Do their customers recognise this value?
  • Are they clear in how they sit within the industry? And where they want to be.
  • Are the brand qualities/personality traits shining through?
  • Is everyone around the table in alignment with the answers? If not, what is the point of difference and why?
  • Do the answers given align with the overall brand message as we see it?
  • Is the client clear on their KPIs and do they align with their business goals and objectives?

Differences in opinion can get in the way of a brand recognising its true potential. A well-managed discovery process can identify these discrepancies, address gaps, find common ground and join the dots. We like to challenge ourselves to explore and find connections between:

  • a customer’s needs and a client’s value proposition
  • the company’s brand and the world it connects to
  • the founding story and the role it plays today
  • the market position in relation to industry demand and changing trends

After the client leaves, we hold on to the energy from the meeting, the body language, the tone, the mood and the silence between words. Picking up on unspoken communication adds significant value to the outcome of a discovery session because it intuitively informs our decision-making. All these new observations, insights and discoveries are discussed, interpreted, challenged,  benchmarked and assimilated into a brand strategy that clarifies direction, positioning, communication, operations, marketing, team culture.

Every decision and activity a company undertakes has an impact both internally and externally. Both environments are completely interdependent. There’s no point in a company achieving self-awareness unless its value and potential are visualised and communicated to the outside world. Similarly, there’s no point in a company projecting an image to the outside world that doesn’t align with its internal behaviour and mindset.

Clarity and insights are only empowering if they’re translated into a series of actionable steps that are put into practice both internally and externally.

Knowing how to exercise your potential, positively impacts and strengthen all the connections you organically win and consciously earn – prospective leads, existing customers, staff, competitors, suppliers, and partners.

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