News & Views

Top 10 Killer Questions

by Sarah O'Neill
2nd October 2017
Top 10 Killer Questions, post image

Key concerns, this month that are keeping my clients awake at night include:

  • A light pipeline
  • Struggling to find and retain good staff
  • Continually receiving vague and poorly explained client briefs

Whilst I intend to cover the first two concerns in upcoming mail outs, today’s topic deals with topic number 3.

Again, what I am hearing is that many agencies are receiving poorly worded briefs from their clients, that in turn cause their staff to struggle in unlocking more insightful and proposal winning information from the brief.

Based on many years of dealing with these type of similar issues, here are my top 10 killer questions for ensuring you can derive a clearer understanding of your client’s brief.

What is the ultimate objective?  Why is this project being commissioned and how is it linked to improving business results?

Tries to uncover the real objective of the project and how your work fits in with the business strategy.

How will you judge if this project is successful? Where would you like to see the brand in one year?  In five years?

Helps you understand how the work will be judged and whether what you are being asked to do is feasible given the budget/timing/current situation.

Why are we being asked to do this work? Why are we being asked to do this work now?

An honest, hard look at the current situation and the overall business problem. Starts to get at what has changed and why this project is now important to the organisation.

Who are the key internal and external stakeholders and how do they feel about this project?

Identifies the key individuals and groups you will need to engage with and their appetite for the project.

What do you think are the main challenges to the project?

Should start to flag up what the likely issues or barriers are that will need to be overcome if the project is to succeed.

What is the internal culture like and how much belief is there in the project?

Understanding the organization’s culture will help you define your approach to the project.

Are there any other work-streams that might influence this piece of work? 

Should highlight any initiatives or key product or service improvements that are planned in the future that could impact upon this work.

What has been tried before?  What succeeded?  What failed?

Helps avoid any time wasting and lessons can be learned from what has failed in the past.

What are the ‘watch-outs’ – what must we make sure we avoid or be sensitive to?

Flags up any ‘no go’ areas.

Is there anything else you think we should know?

An open-ended question that should encourage them to confide any additional hopes or fears.


By Andy Maher

Waypoint Partners are a leading growth advisory firm, working with shareholders and their leadership teams in the creative, marketing and technology sectors to grow and realise value. Are you planning for agency growth in the next 1-3 years? We would be happy to help you achieve your growth targets. Please feel free to give us a call on T +44 (0) 203 282 7598 or send us an email via We look forward to starting the conversation.

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