A conversation opens up so many possibilities. Conversations let you learn something new about a person and their experiences.
There are more than 7.5 billion people on this planet, and every single one of us has a unique life story.
What does this have to do with your marketing strategy?
Everyone who uses your service or product has a different journey that brought them to your company. Every one of your employees has a different experience working with you. Every industry expert and influencer has a unique point of view.
Getting to know those stories will give you more context about how your company fits into your industry. It’ll give you more insight into your actual customers and why they like your company. Learning more about how you relate to others can always benefit your marketing efforts.
Plus, you’ll get great content that you’ll be able to use in many ways. A good quote goes a long way.
Table of contents
- Who to interview
- How to ask for an interview
- How to get ready for an interview
- During an interview
- After the interview
- 10 ways to repurpose your interview content
- Questions from the webinar
10 ways to use your interview
Everyone loves a good story, and there are so many ways to tell them. The content you create with an interview can be repurposed many times. Here are a just few ideas:
- Turn them into case studies and success stories.
- Incorporate quotes into existing content.
- Add voice clips to audio or video content.
- Identify great quotes to re-record.
- Add powerful pull quotes to assets that need something extra.
- Post pull quotes to social channels.
- Beef up a testimonials page.
- Format your conversation Q&A style.
- Mix and match interviews for a unique piece.
- Embed videos on your site.
We’ll take a closer look at all these possibilities later on, but at this point the next question is – who will you interview?
Who to interview
The first step toward conducting a great interview is choosing the right interviewee. They will fall into one of three categories:
1. SMEs and influencers
Why them: These are the experts that people in your industry look to for the most current information and advice. They are the people your audience wants to hear from.
Goal of the interview: You’ll interview these people to get first-hand knowledge about the space you’re working in and validate your company’s efforts. Share this interview with your audience to demonstrate thought leadership and show that you’re accepted by your industry’s influencers.
Where to find them: You may already have a few people in mind simply through your knowledge of your industry. For more ideas, look at popular news sources relevant to your industry to see who’s contributing content or who people are talking about.
BuzzSumo or a simple Google search can also turn up some great leads. Also, check out speakers at relevant conferences and look for personalities that your audience follows on social media.
2. Employees and other stakeholders
Why them: These are the people who hold your company to a higher standard. They have first-hand knowledge of your efforts and the benefits of either working for or working with your company. Plus, they can probably iterate your companies mission or values in a very articulate way.
Goal of the interview: To humanize your organization. These are great for career pages when you’re hiring for new positions, or looking for volunteers, donors or board members. They’re also helpful when a client needs some idea of the real people behind your services. Finally, this is an effective way to spur employee advocacy of your organization.
Where to find them: Your employee directory or your C-suite. If you’re choosing another type of stakeholder to interview, like a volunteer, donor or board member, take tenure and consistency into consideration. You’ll want to talk to someone who is excited about your organization and can also reflect your objectives in the interview. You can also email out a call for interviewees through an organization newsletter or email.
Example: Making square cool again – Getting to know the man behind the scenes at Pregis – I wrote this article for a client after they rolled out a new product. The man who helped push this product forward had a lot to say about its conception and how it can be used.
3. Customers and clients
Why them: These people have first-hand experiences with your products or services. They can tell you a very real pain point they were having, and explain how your company alleviated it. You’ll also get information about the path that brought them to your company in the first place.
Goal of the interview: To create marketing materials! Testimonials, case studies, success stories or even just great quotes will all result from these interviews, and you’ll be able to use these assets in multiple ways. Also, to get more information about a real customer’s journey.
Where to find them: Your account management team will have a good idea of which customers have had really positive experiences, or who is a dedicated client. You can also send out a call for interviewees through email or social media.
Example: Case studies like this one:
I love the quote from this example – “The smoothest implementation of any software package I’ve dealt with.” – It’s both genuine and powerful. Check out the full case study here.
Example: Testimonials like this one.
Once you’ve pinpointed your perfect interview subject (or subjects), it’s time to ask them for time to talk. Email is a great way to reach out to people, as this is non-invasive and gives them a chance to read through your request and think about their response. Direct messages on social media can also work, too.
The goal of your outreach email is to invite them to have a conversation with you, as well as to begin figuring out the logistics of the actual interview. Explain:
- Who you are.
- Why you’re interested in speaking with them.
- What you plan to do with the interview.
Referencing their work or company is a great way to break the ice, and pay them a compliment. It begins your relationship with that person with a positive tone.
If you received their contact information from another person, mention this, or even copy that person on the email.
Suggest a few times to talk, or ask if they have a preference. Finally, you can provide a method of getting in contact (such as providing a phone number to call, suggesting a public location to meet, like a cafe, or pasting a meeting code into the email), or you can hold off on this step until you know that they’re willing to speak with you and have decided on a time to talk.
Before you meet with your interviewee, you have to get ready. You want to enter the interview with confidence and a plan – the interviewee may be nervous or unsure of what to expect. You’ll want them to feel comfortable from the get-go. You don’t want nervous energy or thoughts to get in the way of the interview, or to hinder their ability to give you a great quote.
Researching the person and topic
Before you meet with the person, make sure you know who they are and why you’re interviewing them. Determine which of the three categories they fall into so you can research them properly.
Here are a few things to learn about people from each category:
1. SMEs and influencers
Chances are, you’ll be able to find plenty of material either about them or created by them by searching online. Find out why they’re considered an SME or an influencer.
Take note of their accomplishments or work they’ve done that your audience admires. Having this information can be a great opener when you begin your conversation, and it’ll make them feel comfortable talking to you. Compliments are always a confidence boost – and you want your interviewee to be feeling confident. Additionally, you can use this information when you begin writing your questions.
2. Employees and other stakeholders
Find out basic information like their title and how long they’ve been with your company. Check out their LinkedIn profile to learn a bit more about their career history or other professional interests. If they’ve won an award, were recently commended on a successful project, got a promotion or are part of a committee at work, note these activities.
3. Customers and clients
Find out what products or services they’ve used and how long they’ve been a customer. Find out how they use those products, if applicable.
If you’re a B2B company, find out what industry your interviewee is in, and how your products relate to that industry. Take it one step further and find out what their company does – then try to put yourself in their shoes – what are their priorities as a company? How can your products or services benefit those priorities?
You’ll probably come up with a few questions naturally through your research process, but you’ll also want to think carefully to come up with a few more to round out your interview.
I generally try to aim for about 10 questions, while also keeping in mind that some topics will naturally lend to a longer or shorter interview. Don’t force yourself to come up with pointless questions just to get to a certain number, but at the same time, don’t put yourself in a position where you don’t have enough information to write your piece.
Consider what a reader would want to ask this person. Remember, you’re not interviewing this person for yourself, but on behalf of the reader. If you’re stuck for questions, ask someone else for input – what would they want to know from this person?
5 tips for drafting interview questions:
1. Pay attention to the order of your questions: Your questions should flow naturally from one to another. Abruptly changing topics will only create confusion and make it difficult to have a natural conversation.
This is my starting point for a Life at Brafton employee spotlight interview:
2. Start with easy questions: Easy questions are quick to get through, plus they get your interviewee used to having a dialogue with you. This can help calm some of the nervousness they may have about being interviewed. Even something as simple as confirming the spelling or pronunciation of their last name, their job title or company name will help set the tempo – plus, you’ll need this information anyway.
3. Build toward difficult questions: Don’t jump straight to a challenging topic – doing so can come across as abrupt and make them uncomfortable. Building toward difficult subjects will also help you frame your understanding of the situation. Difficult might mean emotionally challenging for the person (more common in healthcare or human services) or technically advanced (more common in manufacturing, software or heavy industry).
4. Write your questions to be open-ended: The natural answer to your question shouldn’t be a single word. Encourage full sentences when they answer – these make the strongest quotes that you can use in multiple ways and fit seamlessly into an article. Questions that begin with “How” or “Why” are typically good for open-ended answers.
5. Not every question has to be a question: Sometimes I’ll say, “Tell me about your experience with XYZ.” What I like about this is my intention is vague enough for them to interpret it however comes easily to them, which will make their answer smoother. Another way I do this is by following up their answer to one of my questions with a statement such as, “That sounds like it must have been challenging for you.” This prompts more elaboration, which gives more information and quotes!
My last two questions are always the same, no matter the type of interview I’m conducting.
First: Is there anything else you’d like to add, or anything you want others to know? This question gives them free reign to say anything else that’s on their mind. They might have had something to say this whole time, but were waiting for you to ask the right question. This gives them the opportunity to get it all out. I’ve gotten some of my best quotes with this question. I’ve also noticed that, when an interviewee is particularly tight-lipped, this question can often be a catalyst for a lengthy answer full of information.
Finally: If I have any follow-up questions, how can I contact you? Ideally, you’ll have everything you need – but if you’re missing that one perfect piece of information, you’ll want to make sure you can get it. They’ll almost always be happy to answer a quick follow-up question.
Some people will feel more comfortable if they receive questions ahead of time. I don’t typically share my questions in advance unless they specifically ask for it, though. I try to have a natural conversation, and providing the questions ahead of time helps people formulate canned answers that they think will sound good.
That said, if they do ask for it, I never say no – this will only turn them off to having the interview in the first place. The conversation won’t be as productive if you begin that relationship with negativity. Simply email over a set of your questions for them to review – then, don’t make major changes after you share it with them.
When you begin the interview, always make sure to thank them for their time. They could have said no to your interview request, but instead they took time out of their day to give you valuable information about their experiences. Always show your gratitude for that – because they really are giving you a wonderful gift.
Before you jump into your questions, give them a little bit of context about why you’re interviewing them in the first place. Perhaps you already filled them in a bit when you asked for an interview, but now is your chance to give them even more clarity.
Explain what you do for the company, and what you’ll do with the interview once it’s over. Say why you asked them for an interview. Now is when you can mention some of the things you found in your research, such as an accomplishment they achieved or a project they worked on that turned out well.
You never know how the conversation will turn out, such as if what you think is a benign subject will elicit an emotional response.
Always be responsive and empathetic to what your subject is saying. If you’re talking in person, use nonverbal cues to show that you understand what they’re sharing. You never know how the conversation will turn out, such as if what you think is a benign subject will elicit an emotional response.
In one interview I saw, our video producer asked an employee of our client why he liked working for that company. He immediately teared up and said “This company saved my life,” then divulged his experience with managing diabetes and feeling very unhealthy. A company-wide initiative to go on the Keto diet together helped him lose weight, get healthy and gain control over his diabetes.
Empathy is more than reacting appropriately when someone gets emotional. It’s also mirroring excitement when someone gets really animated about a topic they love, or showing that you’re impressed at an accomplishment they’re clearly proud of. Mirroring these emotions will help them feel closer to you as a person, which will make them feel more comfortable sharing their story with you.
Recording an interview
Recording an interview is super helpful. If you’re not a speedy note-taker, this will make sure you get EVERYTHING. This will also help you ensure you get quotes exactly right, and that you don’t miss small details.
During an interview, it’s easy to get into a mindset of getting through the questions, getting good answers and jotting down the key points. Even though you’re engaging in conversation with them and you probably seem present to the interviewee, this mindset can prevent you from truly hearing every single thing they say. Recording will help you uncover those smaller details later on.
As helpful as recording an interview is, you always have to have permission before you start. Laws about notifying someone that they are being recorded vary state by state, but common courtesy is the same across the board – don’t record without permission. It’s sneaky and dishonest.
Start with those super-simple questions, then begin working your way through the other questions you laid out.
4 tips on asking questions during an interview
1. Skip questions if it’s appropriate: As you ask questions, you may find that your interviewee is really chatty, and winds up answering two or more questions from the outset, or in the process of answering another. It’s OK to skip questions if you’ve already gotten enough detail on those topics – don’t march someone through your list of questions if it begins to feel unnatural.
2. Ask follow-up questions: Your interviewee’s answers may also spark new question ideas. Ask them. This will add depth to your interview, and could lead you to some of the strongest information you’ll get from your interview.
3. Allow some silence: Sometimes, questions are hard to answer. It might take them a few moments to think of the right thing to say. Don’t be afraid of silence during an interview – some people need that to gather their thoughts. Most people want to fill silence during an interview, and chances are, your interviewee will, too. Let them fill the silence. (Of course, if it goes on for too long, feel free to jump in and move on.)
4. Change your strategy to get more information: Not everyone is a chatty Cathy. Even though you’ll write your questions to be open-ended rather than single-word answers, some people have a knack for answering in as few words as possible. This can be frustrating when it happens. In these moments, you’ll have to pivot your strategy to encourage full sentences and deeper information.
I’ve found two strategies to be really effective:
- Rephrasing: Ask your question again but in a different way – it’ll help them think about the topic from another perspective and could spark a new idea.
- Paraphrasing: Follow up their answer by summarizing what they said. This will show them that you’re paying attention and really listening to what they’re saying. It’ll help them feel comfortable with you enough to elaborate a little bit more.
It’s always smart to take notes as you go. This will help you pinpoint the most important bits of information.
After you’ve conducted a few interviews, you’ll get an ear for picking out when someone is sharing a critical detail – note these as if you’re putting checkpoints on a map. They will help you find your place when you review your notes and transcription later on.
I personally really like to take notes by hand, especially for in-person interviews because it feels like less of a barrier between myself and the person I’m talking to. But lately have been using my laptop instead because it’s a bit more practical, especially if it’s a phone interview. It’s best to use the method that comes naturally to you. If you can understand your own handwriting and shorthand, and you’re a quick scribe, taking notes by hand might work for you.
I typically type up my questions in a Google doc, and type in answers as the interview progresses. This also helps to organize their answers topically, which is especially helpful when a subject inadvertently begins answering several questions at once.
Taking notes during an interview is a careful balancing act. You can’t let it slow you down too much, or you’ll be left with uncomfortable silence (and not the kind that will lead to more in-depth answers). If you have enough of a thought jotted down for you to remember the context later, leave it at that. If you have to get a few more words down, say something like, “I really liked the way you put that and I’m just writing it down.”
When the interview is over, make sure you have their contact information in case you have follow-up questions and so you can send over your final piece for them to review.
Finally, thank them again for their time. Tell them what they can expect next, including a timeframe in which you’ll send them your final piece for review and when you plan to publish it.
Transcribe and organize
Transcribing your interview is a critical step. I first started transcribing my interviews when I worked at my university newspaper. My editor advised me to start, and I thought it would be a total waste of time. As soon as I started on my first transcription, though, I saw that I was wrong.
Transcribing the interview helped me digest the entire conversation again. I was able to pick up on small themes that I had overlooked or forgotten about. It also helped me write the article, because I could visualize the information and organize it in an intuitive way. Plus, I could copy-paste quotes, names and titles to make sure they were accurate.
There are tools that will transcribe audio for you. These might make more sense for some people. I personally have never used these, and I doubt I will. Carefully combing through the conversation after the fact re-acquaints me with all that information. That’s an important step of the process for me.
If you use your laptop to take notes as you go, transcribing might be as simple as going back and finishing half-typed thoughts and correcting typos.
As you review the interview, you’ll start to think about how you can structure your piece. Identify themes and natural transitions between topics. This will help you create an outline for your article.
In this example, I loved the story my interviewee told me about the dangers of a poorly designed heat gun (which was the tool this case study was about):
Though he wasn’t the most articulate as he explained how he’s seen people melt shoes to the floor or burn their hands due to extremely hot temperatures (ouch!), it was an aspect that was important to include in the story. I summarized it like this:
Pick out the strongest quotes – these will usually be complete sentences that can stand on their own, or are ripe with the subject’s personality. Make sure these quotes are included in your piece, as these will make for attention-grabbing headlines, pull quotes or even stand-alone testimonials that you can include elsewhere.
Writing your piece
Once you have the interview transcribed, you can start writing. Organize your content according to what the reader will wonder first:
- Who is this person?
- Why should I care what they say?
- What information can I take away from reading this?
Include as many quotes as you can, but be choosy. They can’t be sub-par tidbits that don’t add value. They can’t be so generic that you could have written it yourself. Choose a quote that only that person would have said.
Like this example from Stevie Snow’s Life at Brafton:
… or this one from a case study written for an industrial equipment fabricator:
Keep in mind the goal of your piece. You might have uncovered a lot of information, but that doesn’t mean everything has to go into one article. Some of this information can add value to existing content, such as if you spoke with an SME on a topic you’ve already written about. Stay focused on your initial goal when writing the article. This will help keep the copy clean instead of meandering into adjacent topics.
Sometimes, you do want to touch on multiple points and subjects in your article. Break these up into distinct sections. This will help avoid awkward transitions. For instance, in our Life at Brafton series, we like to talk about our co-workers’ journeys to Brafton as well as their interests outside of work.
Some of this flows nicely together – but trying to tie powerlifting, for example, into content marketing is a challenge. If you know Lyndsay Canada, though, you know you’re not going to write a piece about her personality and achievements without mentioning her fitness routine. Writer Stevie Snow blends it in well by starting a new section off with information about Lyndsay participating in powerlifting competitions:
Getting sign-off from the interviewee
Once you’re done writing your piece, show the interviewee what you came up with. While this may not always be necessary, it’s always a nice courtesy. This will also give them the opportunity to review basic facts to ensure nothing was overlooked. If there’s anything that looks amiss, they’ll be grateful for the opportunity to request an adjustment before it gets published.
Sending them the final article will also get them excited about the piece going live. Tell them when they can expect to see it, or even offer to send them the URL once it’s live. They’ll be more likely to share the article with their friends if they’re pumped to see it, and if they know where to find it.
There will be a few rare times when someone doesn’t get back to you. People are busy. Don’t wait around forever hoping they’ll come back with a thumbs-up. They gave you permission to use the interview, and you gave them ample opportunity to review the final product. Follow up with them once, give it a few days, but after that, feel free to publish it. You did your due diligence.
Earlier in this webinar, I listed a few ways to use and reuse your interviews. Let’s take a closer look at each of these options and how you can fit them into your workflow.
This is my favorite way to use interview content. It may even be the reason you’re doing an interview in the first place. Take your conversation and create an outline around it. Pull in your favorite quotes (the ones filled with personality) and sprinkle them into your story.
Identify the very best quotes – the ones that have good information or unique insights that your audience will appreciate. Then, flip through content that you’ve already produced. Find connections between the topics and fit the quotes into the content.
We did this in this article: Email drip campaigns explained.
We originally published this article in March 2018. It was a pretty informative piece on email drip campaigns, and was performing well. We decided to re-optimize it in the spring of 2019 to make it even more powerful.
At the same time, we were building a networking relationship with Matt Solar, the VP of Marketing at nDash.co. We were able to include some strong advice from Solar into the piece, which boosted its value even more.
If your recording is good quality, you may be able to use it in a piece of audio or video content. Make sure you have permission from your subject about this specific usage. Here’s an example from our podcast episode with Andy Crestodina – we turned a great quote into a typography video to share on social.
If you don’t have a great recording, you can review your transcript and find quality quotes, or even full stories, that you would like recorded. If you plan to do this, though, plan ahead for it. Tell your interviewee that you’ll review your conversation and invite them back to record certain pieces of it. Also, explain what you’ll do with this additional media, such as include it in a podcast or video.
I did this in a long-form multi-media journalism project through my university called War: Through Their Eyes. After several interviews with my subject, Warren, I identified three powerful stories that highlighted some of the main themes of his story overall. I typed up his words, printed them out and gave them back to him like a script. Then, I invited him back to a recording studio so I could turn the stories into short podcasts – here they are.
Putting strong quotes and formatting them to be eye-catching can bring more interest to your newsletters, emails, postcards or other communications. These quotes should be strong enough to stand on their own with little context, and highlight a core value of your organization.
Here’s an example from an organization I used to work with called Highfields. I included quotes in each email newsletter that showed the value Highfields provided to the community. I had a list of strong quotes from various people who were impacted by Highfields’ work, like this juvenile justice specialist:
I wanted to make sure that every person who opened the email knew that Highfields was making a real difference in people’s lives. This reinforces the organization’s importance and encourages support.
Again, these should be strong enough to stand on their own without supporting context. They should be thought-provoking or inspiring, and should show off your industry expertise.
Adding quotes to a testimonials page will highlight the best points from your testimonials and boost curiosity. We do this on our own testimonials page to highlight one key quote from each story.
A Q&A-style piece is easy to digest and looks very authentic. There’s no fluff – all the information is laid out so the reader can interpret it for themselves. It’s simple but very engaging because it feels as if the interviewee is speaking directly to the reader, and because there’s none of the author’s interpretation mixed in. It’s just the unmodified quotes (except for perhaps a few grammar edits).
Speaking with multiple experts is a very journalistic technique that brings more credibility and depth to your article. It shows that you’re open-minded and willing to dig for the best information.
Including quotes from several interview subjects will add more dimension to your content, whether you’re talking about an industry trend, one of your products or the benefits of working at your organization. Multiple voices all highlighting your company reinforces your value.
We used this technique in this article, when we asked 7 local SEO experts for advice: 7 local SEO tips from the experts.
Embedding videos on your website is great for SEO and dwell time because it makes the page more valuable and interactive. People love to watch videos. They’ll almost always help your site performance.
Where to include videos on your site? Everywhere – here are some stats:
- Job postings with video have a 34% greater application rate.
- Customers who watch ecommerce product videos are up to 144% more likely to add that item to their cart.
- 80% of marketers say video has increased dwell time on their site.
- 41% of marketers say video has helped them reduce customer support calls.
1. We are planning a SuperFan program. What kinds of questions should we ask to get content?
You could ask them what brought them to the program and how they’re liking it so far. A few other questions I’d ask would include:
- How did you find out about the program?
- What got you interested in the program?
- What’s something that surprised you about the program?
- What’s your favorite part about it?
- What are you hoping to see from the program in the future?
- What would you tell someone else who’s considering joining the program?
2. Tools you would recommend for video interviews that are not face-to-face?
- We’ve used GoToMeeting, which works well.
- Skype is a great tool, and a lot of people have experience using it, or have at least heard of it.
- Google Hangouts is popular. John Mueller uses it when he hosts his Webmaster Hangouts, for example (but that’s not a big surprise).
- If video isn’t needed, you can use Zencastr. This is what we use for recording guests for Above the Fold.
3. Strategies for keeping a library or catalog of your interview content?
I interpreted this question in two ways – a library/catalog for your own purposes, and a library/catalog on your website for people to find. These are both good ideas.
For my own purposes, I like to collect my transcription and notes in a Google Doc. Before the interview, I’ll type my questions up in that Google Doc, then fill it in with the transcription and notes. This keeps everything organized and easy to find. Then, I’ll keep all my interviews in a single folder.
As far as your website goes, you can keep content organized in a resources or blog section. You might have certain tags for different topics so people can search based on what they’re trying to learn. Those tags might be specific products, themes or people you’ve interviewed. Essentially, you want to make it as simple as possible for people to find what they’re looking for.
4. Can we take audio from webinar and use it in a typography video for social?
This depends on a few factors: quality and permission. If you have a video team, they can help with this type of project – making the audio sound as best as possible, and creating the typography video.
Of course, any time you’re using someone else’s own words and voice, you need permission. Reach out to that person to find out if they’d be OK with their voice being used in your marketing materials.
5. What effective audio-to-text applications do you know of? Our interviews are typically 30 minutes to 1 hour.
I truly do prefer the manual transcription process. It re-familiarizes you with everything that was said, which is majorly helpful when you begin planning your content and identifying the strongest quotes.
Plus, auto-transcription tools are prone to errors. If you do plan on using these, I’d highly recommend re-listening to your recording and reading along with the transcript to make sure everything is accurate.
With all that in mind, I have heard positive reviews about these auto-transcribing tools:
6. How can we encourage clients to share engaging content related to our brand?
If you want to do just a general push for engaging content, you could use social media to get people interested and do a user-generated content type of campaign. If you have contact with your clients, such as if you have an account management team that has a relationship with leads, you can see if they’d be interested in taking part in a case study or testimonial.
One thing we’ve done at Brafton is send out a Client Satisfaction Survey to get people’s feedback in that regard. When someone provides really positive feedback through that channel, we’ll follow up with them to see if they’d be interested in doing a case study, success story or testimonial with us.
Another thing you can do is ask for reviews on your social media, website, Google My Business or somewhere else. When someone leaves positive feedback, follow up with them to see if they’d be willing to speak longer about their experience.
7. Are there any common mistakes you see marketers making when it comes to turning interviews into usable content?
I would say a common mistake is just using it only one time. You really can re-use your content and build engaging stories.
You may have uncovered a ton of details about a whole bunch of aspects of a theme, but for the goal of your initial piece, you may only be able to use some of it. Keep those additional tidbits of information and re-use them in other ways. Even things you use in your initial piece, you can re-use in other ways, too. For example, stand-alone quotes posted on social media or used in an email, or using podcast audio in a typography video for social.
Any time someone has something positive to say about your brand, you should show that off in as many ways as you can.
8. I wish our sales team would capture and share content from their many sales calls. They complain about not having new case studies, but resist helping with the up-front steps. Does this sound familiar?
Yes, unfortunately, this does sound very familiar. It can be hard to coordinate sales and marketing teams to collaborate on these larger projects like this. A sound process that everyone can agree on, I think, is the best way to jump-start new content. Here are a few things that I’d recommend:
- Ask your sales team for examples of customers who have had positive experiences. Get those customers’ contact information and reach out to them.
- Make sure everyone on the sales and marketing teams are on the same page as far as: 1. who will reach out to 2. which customers, and 3. what they will say.
If it’s reasonable to assume your customers will have a comfortable relationship with one of your account managers or a member of your sales team, either ask that person to introduce you to the customer, or copy them on an outreach email.
9. Can client conversations be used to help define a brand? If our users see us one way, should our brand reflect that?
Getting to know how your clients view your brand can absolutely help guide your branding efforts. If they have a really positive view of your brand, but you aren’t actively using those points in your messaging, it could be worthwhile to mix them in. It might draw in like-minded customers, or capture the attention of someone who knew you existed but hadn’t really checked you out yet.
My favorite real-life example of this is when adidas hired a consultancy that worked with anthropologists to find out how people really viewed their brand. Internally, they were thinking people saw adidas as a high-performance athletic brand. In reality, many of their customers used their adidas gear for yoga, jogging and other (as they called them) “urban sports.” The company was surprised, but the adjusted their messaging to match.
Conversely, you may find out that people view you in a way you don’t exactly want promoted. This could be a good place to begin a re-branding effort, if it’s needed. At the very least, you could use this information to find out where this point of view is coming from, and come up with measures to adjust your messaging.
10. Are direct quotes more valuable than just conversation take-aways?
Absolutely. Direct quotes are by default unique to the person who said them, which means it’s that person’s voice and personality that shines through in a direct quote, rather than the voice and personality of your brand when you rephrase or paraphrase what someone else said. That unique personality, separate from your brand, is what makes things like case studies and testimonials so engaging.
Plus, people have an easier time believing the words of a customer than a marketing department. That’s just the way it is.