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By Bruno Gralpois
When asking better questions around scope alignment, the briefing process and relationship evaluation, agency performance soars and the partnership strengthens.
Asking tough questions can remove unnecessary tension and address potential disagreements. It also leads to better understanding and collaboration
When brand advertisers ask better questions about their work relationship with agencies, performance soars and the partnership strengthens. “Judge a man [or woman] by his [or her] questions rather than his [or her] answers.” That famous quote is often wrongly attributed to French philosopher Voltaire.
The quote is by PierreMarc-Gaston, Duke of Lévis (1764-1830), a politician who wrote his thoughts about morality following the French Revolution. It was a time when questioning authority and everything else mattered greatly, and when people often had more questions than answers.
Fast-forward to today, as we face a business revolution fueled by incredible economic and competitive pressures. Relationships between brands and their agencies share a similar dilemma: questions are many, but answers can be scarce. Simply stated: we know things are not working as they should between clients and agencies, but we don’t always know why. The solution is in asking better questions and quickly getting to the root cause.
Let’s review how.
Better scope questions
The planning and scope alignment process that contributes to clarifying what work will be produced and what resources will be needed (financial, human, or both) has drastic implications on work performance and the financial construct of the relationship. If you don’t get the scope and financials aligned from the outset, little really matters down the road. Aligning on the planning and scope process is the important building block. To get it right, advertisers and their agencies should ask the following questions:
Better brief questions
The briefing process is notoriously known to prompt a rich yet necessary dialogue between the client and the agency to start work based on crystal-clear objectives and expectations. Like scoping, the briefing process sets up the partnership for success, when done properly. The more clarity obtained up front, the better the work and the most effective use of agency resources later on. Advertisers and their agencies should ask the following questions:
Better relationship questions
Most advertisers conduct performance evaluations yearly or twice a year to evaluate the health of the partnership and identify areas of improvement. This process is essentially based on a series of closed- and open-ended questions that allow both parties to provide constructive feedback and agree on a set of actions. But not all questions are equal. Many performance evaluations fail to deliver truly actionable insight because they simply ask the wrong questions. Advertisers and their agencies should ask the following questions:
Let’s face it: asking the right questions can be uncomfortable. We know that, whether it applies to our professional or personal lives. Yet if done respectfully and with the right intent, asking tough questions can remove unnecessary tension and address potential disagreements. It also leads to better understanding and collaboration. In business, the questions we ask are often more important than the answers we obtain, and pave the way for the answers we need to strengthen the partnership.
Let’s ask better questions.
Bruno Gralpois is Author/Speaker, Thought-provocateur, Client/Agency Guru, Entrepreneur, Innovator at Agency Mania.