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Clients, Say No to Buying Discovery Documents

For some reason it appears as though paid discovery documents are resurfacing as a thing. Clients, for everyone's sake, laugh and say, "No!"

Let's see if I can explain a bit. It was circa 2008 the first time I ever heard someone pitch a client a discovery document with a straight face. We were in the middle of pitching/up selling a social media and content engagement to push some of the cool promotions they were pumping out. The idea was that we would create this document of all of the things they should be doing, what their competitors are doing, who their customers are and where they are online. Then, based on the information gathered, we would execute it. But, all of this is our Strategy Document. I'm not sure if the client was being nice, or was generally interested, but they asked for what it would entail and the cost.

In short: Top 2 competitor research, customer research, network research and strategy equaled. $10,000.

It was pretty embarrassing and thankfully, the client giggled and said no. Yet again, here we are with strategy documents that cost money to complete have started legitimately popping up in the last couple of years with the client saying yes. Oh no!

Think, clients. The thing about discovery documents is that at no reason should an agency pitch a client without first performing a discovery. Without developing a base-level strategy, what exactly is being pitched? We do SEO, we do paid, we do social, but we have no idea what we're going to do for you, or how much it'll cost? Please.

Purchased strategy documents appear to do 2 things. 1. They delay the agency from actually working, or earning business, yet they still get paid. 2. Are ways for an agency to pat themselves on the back for taking 30 days to complete a document that should have been done as part of the relationship.

I am surprised clients would want an agency working with them who, instead of working together to create a well-researched and thought-out strategy together, would be cool with them working in a silo for a month and arriving at this "strategy."

Pros tip: Next time your pitched a strategy document that will cost $x.xx, ask them to define a strategy. It'll just kill them!

Get on retainer, do the research and develop a strategy that will best meet the client's goals and execute. It's a fact that 9 out 10 strategy documents are disregarded within two weeks of delivery. Don't waste your time paying for these up front.