In April 1990, Anheuser-Busch introduced Bud Dry in the United States. At that time, the new type of beer touted the slogan of “Why ask why? Try Bud Dry.” While Bud Dry is no longer available (the brand was discontinued in December 2010), the television commercials and slogan will remain indelibly etched in my brain.
In the professional services world, most specifically agencies (and also applicable to freelancers), the notion of “Why ask why” is imperative when working with clients. Not asking why runs the risk of setting the wrong trajectory on a project or campaign – potentially wasting time, money, credibility and trust.
Here is a scenario for context…
A client (or even a prospect) calls with a new project opportunity. Most agencies, despite having policies and procedures, will quickly jump in on the opportunity to record the fresh new win and fast-track the project under the guise of delivering responsive customer service. After chunks of time are expended, the deliverable is presented to the client and the reaction is underwhelming.
You got it all wrong. Was your understanding of the project not in line with the expectations or was there a miscommunication along the way?
In this scenario, the agency got started with the “what” but did not take the time to understand the “why.” It is incumbent on agencies to ask the why.
Why do you want to do this? Why will this help your business? Why do this now?
In addition to why, you also want to understand the what and how. What are you looking to accomplish? And how will we know we accomplished it? Do you have clarity on metrics and what success looks like?
While these questions should be in every agency’s onboarding toolbox, they can be easily used on the client side to clearly communicate projects to internal team external resources. Having clarity on the why, what, how, and when of a project will increase the success rate and mitigate the risk of time to market and escalating budgets.
So, the next time you are brainstorming with your team, don’t forget the why.