Whether we’re clients or the agencies and consultants working with them, there’s typically a ton of emphasis on and talk about what “great” looks like when it comes to execution. The end game and creative glory. Less shiny and fun? The consideration phase of the customer funnel. Are we actually a fit? Can you give us what we need to do the job? (Agency/consultant) Are you just telling us what we want to hear? (Prospect).

It’s tempting to do superficial discovery here. To skip over exploring and managing expectations about scope, roles, what’s under the skin of the business and all those bits in our desire to get stuck into the good stuff. But in my experience, this is the place where the potential for getting the work wrong—for everyone involved—is sky-high.

Here’s what I’ve learned about what good agencies-slash-consultants-slash-partners have in common. (IMHO!) You might consider it a refresher if you’re one of those. Or a list of (some) stuff to look for if you’re a brand or business that needs their support.

  1. They ask good questions. Ones you haven’t thought of. Hard ones that might feel uncomfy (but will definitely make the work better).

  2. The questions come after they’ve listened a lot.

  3. They get you. Go with your gut on this.

  4. They get straight to the crux of what’s at stake. No puffery or fanfare.

  5. They’re real about what’s possible and when. Might even push back. (Don’t be put off. You want someone who’ll stand up for the stuff that matters.)

    What else? Over to you...