Actress Carol Cleveland needles her “husband” Graham Chapman with question after question in a screwball Monty Python skit. Questions he can’t answer. Until he gets aggravated at all the badgering and accuses her of conducting a Spanish Inquisition. At which point the punchline—a costumed Spanish Inquisitor from the middle ages—bursts into the room. That is, her incessant badgering was just getting started.
Indeed. A Spanish Inquisition would be an intensive line of questioning.
But sometimes a client of a marketing agency wants a project done—a digitally transformed website, for example—yet the client may not volunteer a lot of information about it (or may not even be sure what is meant by the request). So, the marketing agency may have to ask a lot of questions (yet may not know exactly what those might need to be).
However that scenario unfolds, being inquisitive and asking the right questions should indeed be seen as a positive thing versus a medieval torture tactic.
So if a client bursts into the agency and says, “I want a WordPress site!”, then yes, you bet…it’s time for some healthy Q&A.
On the other hand, if all we’re really talking about is building a basic online presence—an electronic brochure that’s viewable at doohickey.com then maybe we can just hop onto to a web-builder and add some plugins to handle a couple bells and whistles. Then, call it a day.
Or use a basic Shopify subscription plan if all we’re doing is pedaling some simple widget via ecommerce. No in-depth line of questioning required.
Might not need to know a lot more.
However, to avoid leaving money on the table, and maximize the ROI opportunity in a web development project, two things are needed:
- The right skill sets to handle a truly transformative, custom-development opportunity and;
- The right questions to uncover a truly transformative, custom-development opportunity
Outsourcing partners can do both—provide in-depth skills, ask in-depth questions. It’s why marketing agencies use them as trusted resources. They provide exactly what’s needed, no matter the situation, at a transparent, pass-along, variable cost.
Otherwise, it’s a major fixed cost for agencies to have all of that web-dev expertise in-house—the technical resources combined with the inquisitive know-how to develop personalized, experience-rich features such as custom product configurators, dealer locators, customized shopping cart experiences and integrations with Salesforce.
What, Why, When, How, Where, Who?
The outsource partner asks the questions that reveal the nitty gritty of the client’s “ask” (e.g. “I want a WordPress site!”). Such as, what is the site supposed to do, or what is being marketed and how? Is it ecommerce with a customized cart… can the product be custom configured? How many products? Dozens, hundreds, thousands? When will the products or pieces of artwork be in hand, and what condition are they in? Who is going to load those and when? Is the site managing sensitive customer financial information, such as credit card accounts?
Is the response form going to tie to CRM? When the CRM triggers, how will emails be distributed?
Is the site going to be translated? Auto translation or true translation?
What server? Which host? Where is the domain?
—Rudyard Kipling, paraphrased
Six servants taught me all I knew…
What, Why and When… and How, Where and Who.
The richer the the discovery session, the richer the opportunity. Instead of creating technical debt by short-cutting the way to a site that has to be completely redone again in three years, the right questions help plan long-term technical dividends that pay back the agency again and again. A site that can stand the test of time and scale over time to add more visual engagement, more interaction, more customized tools (more billables the client wants).
That’s a wellspring of future ROI.
And that’s the sort of subject matter expertise an outsource partner provides. Asking questions that assure Processes happen… that Exceptions are budgeted… that Validation is achieved.
- Processes (billable ones) that are appropriate to fulfill the scope and direction, delivering a successful, quality product on time.
- Exceptions (not to be overlooked) that anticipate users going off the trail with site usage and giving them a clear path forward when they do.
- Validation (for the investment) that assures the site can scale over time with additional personalization and interactivity and value.
When web development expertise is served up as part of the agency and brought to the forefront— in the form of the right questions to ask clients—the opportunity delivers more ROI than a web-builder ever could.