Many people possess the innate ability to simply carry a conversation and ask questions relevant to the person they’re speaking to. For others, developing these skills takes practice.
But if I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that knowing how to ask powerful questions will change your life, both personally and professionally.
Let me share with you my story on how I thought I understood it all, and how that cost me $10K of my customer’s money.
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Falling in Love with Marketing
I began my journey at 13 when I designed and developed my very first website on Geocities. By 16, I was fully immersed in my own freelance business, but creating websites alone wasn’t good enough for me, even then.
I wanted to know what happened when users came to a website, what they looked at, and why they left. This was well before Google Analytics existed, which made website analysis very difficult. That’s when I became obsessed with understanding the analytics and psychology of why people take the actions they take on websites and in marketing.
What started as helping some of my dad’s business friends create their first digital footprint turned into opening up the door to join a team at one of the world’s largest digital marketing research firms.
At 18, it was at this firm I had the amazing opportunity to help design and develop campaigns for companies like 1-800-Flowers, Encyclopedia Britannica, Reuters, and many other successful businesses.
Perhaps the most exciting project was working with The New York Times, testing their home delivery subscription process and creating strategies to increase home delivery revenues.
This was during a time where digital subscriptions on the Internet were gaining popularity, while the economy was also taking a turn for the worst. So, our job was simple… discover what works in driving users to purchase home delivery subscriptions.
We tested headlines, buttons, calls-to-action, short vs long copy, web forms, and numerous multivariate objects. After running many tests, we were able to get a 1,011% cumulative increase in conversion on the subscription path and a 541% increase in conversion on the offer page.
With so many huge successes under my belt, and after working with so many world-renowned companies, I thought I had it all figured out – but I was wrong.
How I Failed… Big Time
Fast forward many years, I had an opportunity to help manage a company’s entire digital strategy. We were excited and knew the customer was keen on generating new qualified leads quickly. Because the customer wanted to move so quickly, and despite my better judgment, we decided we would run Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads immediately to increase lead generation.
We didn’t ask any questions. Instead, we got right to work without truly understanding the customer’s business and who their target audience was. We didn’t even know what keywords their target audience was using to search for our customer’s solutions.
We built their ads based on what we understood about their complex business, not their complex customer. We put $10K of our customer’s money into their account and launched the campaign.
If this section header didn’t give it away, the campaign failed, and though we generated significant leads for their business, they weren’t the right leads.
Since that day, I’ve never launched a single campaign without asking, not just questions, but the right questions needed to truly understand my customer’s business and their primary goals.
How I Overcame by Asking Powerful Questions
Ever since I decided to never launch a campaign without having all the details, I’ve used a simple, yet effective process to always ensure we are set up for success in driving results for customers… asking powerful questions.
In other words, You MUST ask questions that help you understand OMV (Objectives, Metrics, and Value).
What is the ideal outcome you’d like to experience?
What results are you trying to accomplish?
How much would you gain on the competition as a result?
Who or what will report on our results (against the objectives)?
Each time we talk, what standard will tell us we’re progressing?
How would you know it if you tripped over it?
What will these results mean for your organization?
How will these results impact the bottom line?
What if this fails?
Understanding OMVs is absolutely critical in ensuring you drive success for your customers, and in a world where ethics in business are so rarely practiced, it’s the right thing to do for your customers.
One project this particularly came into play for was with Palace Resorts, the sister company of Hard Rock Hotels (and one of my favorite projects to date). Our goal was to help increase qualified leads for their MICE segment.
So, obviously, we made sure we had all the right information and asked all the right questions. Our team followed the OMV process with the owners, Vice President of Sales, and the Director of Marketing, essentially asking them 3 powerful questions:
What are the objectives?
How will we measure this together?
What value will these results bring to your organization?
Ultimately, this helped us determine that we needed to design and develop an entire digital strategy which included a website redesign, SEO, live chat, marketing automation, PPC ads, social influence, and many other strategic initiatives.
We worked hard for 12 months to implement, test, and improve on all the campaigns we were running for their business and we generated $61M worth of qualified leads for their business.
By far one of the most successful and exciting projects I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.
We didn’t stop there, however. We asked more powerful questions like: “If you closed just 10% of these opportunities, what would that mean for your business?”
I’m not awesome at math, but I know that’s a $6M increase to the top line.
That question alone granted us the opportunity to help their business, not just in marketing, but in helping optimize their sales process as well. That’s important to note because we built incredible trust with this customer by asking powerful questions and generating awesome results.