Why do discovery?
Why do discovery?

By on in Strategy

Why do discovery?

“What’s one of the surest signs a client isn’t going to be successful?”

That’s the question a potential client tossed at me on an early call. It caught me off guard, and I blurted out an honest answer: “Anyone who says they’ll figure it out on the fly.”

Every once in a while, we encounter clients new to the world of digital marketing or development. They expect to dive headlong into the work. While we love the enthusiasm, that “scope it and go” mentality is not the way to ensure success.

Scoping a project is often a journey of discovery in its own right. Simple questions like “What does success look like?” often turn up dozens of other questions.

While some balk at the prospect of waiting for—and paying for—anywhere from two to six weeks of discovery, I promise you that answering questions now is better than second-guessing later.

Here’s what discovery helps you do and why it matters.


Know your audience

There is no such thing as a product that’s “for everyone.” Even toilet paper brands and health insurance companies have to focus on defined groups.

To understand the unique attributes of your audience, you must go beyond gathering a laundry list of demographic information. Unearthing your customers’ values and lifestyle is the way to effectively connect what you have with what they want. That kind of customer research takes time, but it pays off.

This deeper knowledge guides everything from brand positioning to UX. Think about those toilet paper brands. Charmin corners the family-friendly market with its mom and baby cartoon spokes-bears, while Seventh Generation touts its environmental bona fides with a leafy-green motif on its packaging.

A clear perspective and narrower focus are how you connect in a meaningful way with your audience. And that’s the engine that fuels both initial sales and long-term brand loyalty.

There is no such thing as a product that’s “for everyone.” Even toilet paper brands and health insurance companies have to focus on defined groups.

Prepare for speed bumps

No, you can’t be prepared for everything (See: the year 2020). But you can make the list of “things we don’t know we don’t know” as short as possible.

A SWOT analysis is a valuable tool to identify what you know and what could be lurking around the corner.

Issues to consider may be happening within your organization’s four walls or out in the big wide world, and they run the gamut from show-stopping to simple fixes. Discovery is the time to consider and capture them all. For example:

  • The wait time for approval in the Apple App Store and Google Play are radically different, and you want to launch on both platforms simultaneously..
  • Your CIO is going on maternity leave and won’t be available for decision-making.
  • Your brand has a large bilingual audience, and your website should be translated into Spanish.

None of these hurdles are insurmountable, but they all require some advanced planning to find the best workarounds and a solid game plan to keep timelines on track.


Look within

In business, as in life, it pays to engage in self-reflection.

Your colleagues will be interacting with whatever you build. They will likely have specific needs, concerns, or knowledge about the project. In fact, they already have that now. The discovery phase is the time to gather that feedback rather than enduring complaints when you unveil the final result.

If you’re building a new chat function into your website, talk with your customer service team about their day-to-day customer interactions. What questions do they see most often? What problems do they foresee in offering chat? How can the new tool integrate with the existing service ticketing system to ensure conversations don’t fall through the cracks?

This feedback will help you build a chat function that addresses customer concerns and gives your customer service team the features they need to serve your audience.


Get buy-in

Gathering internal feedback does more than inform your project map and end result. It also makes everyone feel involved and invested in your success.

One of the fastest roads to disengaged employees is handing down dictums from on high. If the C-suite is making decisions that will radically change the social media manager’s day-to-day without considering their point of view, leadership is missing a huge opportunity.

Go knock on that social media manager’s cubicle wall and ask what they see out there on your brand’s social channels. Not only will this strengthen your strategy, but it will also bolster your entire team’s commitment to whatever plans you enact.

I get it. It can be hard to hold back when you’re raring to go on a new project. But a thorough discovery process yields so many benefits. From stronger team buy-in to richer customer personas, the ROI is significant and extends well beyond the bounds of the project itself. The knowledge learned and goodwill earned during thoughtful discovery can last for years to come.