How to Conduct Effective Discovery Meetings

Why Discovery Meetings Are Important

The initial discovery phase is a crucial step to ensuring a successful client relationship, whether the project is a one-time service or an ongoing monthly engagement. The information you gather in this meeting and the level of preparation and collaboration sets the tone for the rest of the partnership.

Some team members may be eager to dive right into a new project and skip the discovery phase, but it’s important to take time to get to know the client and their business goals before starting a project. Try to encourage the team to approach the discovery phase with patience, and remember that the information collected in this phase will be useful throughout the entire project.

Templated vs. Tailored Approach

Every agency has a different way of approaching client work. Some digital marketing agencies choose to sell their services as packages, while others create custom strategies for each client. Depending on how your agency operates, you may need to use pre-built templates for client-facing deliverables or you may be able to create new documents for each client. 

Form templates are an efficient way of making sure that the necessary information is covered, but after researching the client’s needs and goals, there may be other discovery questions that can be added to the template. Templated versus tailored doesn’t have to be one or the other; you can start with a template and customize it by tailoring additional questions based on research.

Preparing for the Discovery Phase

The discovery phase involves more than just a one-time meeting with the client. It is truly the foundation of the relationship your team is building with the client. It involves planning, research, and competitive analysis. 

Prior to conducting the discovery call, the person responsible for facilitating the relationship should complete the following steps.

  • Gather the internal team and brief them on the client
  • Perform research on the client’s industry and competitors
  • Set up a document with questions to ask the client
  • Send the discovery meeting agenda to the client and internal team

The industry and competitive analysis portion of the discovery phase is important so you can learn the intricacies of your client’s industry and see what competitors are doing for advertising. 

Asking the Right Questions

Based on the research prior to the discovery meeting, the project lead should compile questions in a document that will help the team working on the project. Ensuring that the questions are thoughtful, thorough, and relevant to the client’s needs should help the project run more smoothly. Examples of possible discovery questions are listed below. 

  • What are your goals for this engagement? (brand awareness, traffic, sales, leads)
  • What are your marketing pain points?
  • What differentiates you from competitors?
  • Who will make decisions and give final approvals?
  • What KPIs will determine the success of the campaign? 

If you need more examples, this blog has a comprehensive list of discovery questions. 

Project Plan

If time allows, share the project plan on the call with the client. Having a well-thought-out project plan in place is very likely to set the project up for success. One report said that marketing professionals who proactively plan their strategies are 331% more likely to report success on their campaigns than those who don’t plan ahead of time. This will also communicate to the new client that you have prepared well and are thinking ahead about the next steps. 

A comprehensive project plan should include the deliverables, timeline, and budget for the project at a minimum. It should serve as a roadmap for your team and a guide for the client so they know what channels and tactics you are using to fulfill their business goals.

Additional Things to Consider

The discovery meeting is also a chance for the client to get to know your team. Make sure to introduce your team and explain the role they will play in the project. If you didn’t get a chance to discuss performance reporting in-depth on the discovery call, you may want to send the client a white-labeled example of a report and indicate how often you will provide reporting (i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly). 

The discovery phase is also a good time to gauge the level that the client wants to be involved in making decisions. Some clients have a strong understanding of marketing best practices and want to have a high level of involvement, while other clients want their agency to be their guide when it comes to making decisions about the type of campaign to run. 

What Happens Next?

After the discovery meeting, the project lead should send the discovery questionnaire to the client to input additional information that may come up after the call. You should also provide the client with a recap of the main discussion points and a list of the team members working on their account, for future reference. 

Post-discovery meeting follow-up items:

  • Discovery questionnaire
  • Project roadmap
  • Recap of next steps

After the initial discovery call, you should also set up recurring status calls, maintaining a cadence that works for the client as well as your team’s schedule. Having a regularly scheduled call to go over performance, discuss account changes, and agree on next steps will promote a positive working relationship going forward.

Depending on the scope of the engagement, you may want to schedule a separate client kickoff meeting in case there are any changes to the project roadmap after the discovery phase. This can be a quick touch base to go over any recent changes since the discovery call and get any necessary approval prior to starting the project. 

Key Takeaways

The discovery phase is an important component of a new agency/client relationship. The purpose of having a discovery call with a new client is to learn about your client and convey how your agency can align with your client’s business goals—doing so will empower you to foster a strong working relationship and set the stage for successful collaboration.

By taking the time to perform research, analyze the client’s industry and competitors, and gather information about the client’s business, you can create a strong foundation for the remainder of the engagement. 

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