How Interviewing Your Clients Can Save Your Content Marketing
You know what’s a bad sign for content marketers? When you get tired of your own content.
There’s a remedy for that: get someone else to write it for you.
You think I’m joking, right? I’m not.
The reason you’re fresh out of ideas is because you’re running out of knowledge—and by that, I mean knowledge about your clients. To properly represent their company and understand their target personas, you need to get inside their heads.
Believe me: just one contact at that company will generate content ideas that could last you the next two years. So why aren’t you getting it?
You need to talk to them more than you’re talking to them now.
Benefit #1: You gain a better understanding of the client
This is great for an obvious reason: in the long term, knowing your client better will enable you to write content with less of their input.
There’s only so much you can learn about your clients from scouring their website for information a hundred times over. The only way to gain a profound understanding of the company’s life, processes, priorities and people is to sit with them and get answers for all the questions you haven’t had the chance to ask.
Benefit #2: You write more interesting content (with authority)
What makes you click on a blog in your inbox’s daily newsletters? How specific are the topics in those headlines? Do they give you repackaged common-sense advice, or a brand-new angle on a specific topic that interests you already?
Gone are the days of recycling content. You’re better than that.
Believe me: your target personas can sniff out when bloggers write without topical expertise.
It’s easy to get discouraged about blogging and to feel like no one’s reading anything but your headings anyway. But the attentive readers—your qualified leads who you aim to educate and problem-solve for—will know if your content is backed by real industry knowledge and expertise.
Benefit #3: You strengthen your client relationships
Interviews help you get to know your clients on a more personal basis. It’s not just a way to you infuse the client’s company culture and identity into the content’s voice.
It’s relationship building.
Obviously, delivering results to a client is the way you retain business—but showing that you care amplifies your results and makes you trustworthy and recommendable. Sitting down one-on-one with employees or managers from the company will let them put a face to your name.
With a more personal relationship comes trust and empathy—and more effective and considerate communication towards you as a result.
Tips for interview success
- Decide your primary intent
How your blog will look depends on how you approach the interview in the first place. Are you trying to gather success stories, insights about the client’s industry, or an explanation of one of their processes? Or are you only looking for brief soundbites of knowledge to sprinkle throughout your blog?
Keep in mind, however, that you might veer off-track during your interviews and get different material than you intended. Seasoned interview veterans know that often the best interviews result from unexpected turns and digressions.
- Be flexible
You might have elicited a fantastic anecdote that you could narrate in the first few paragraphs of your blog, setting the tone for the whole piece. Or, you’ve captured only a few sentences worth of information that readers couldn’t already glean from the client’s website.
Keep it all. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you have. What’s great about blogging is that you’re encouraged to go back and optimize your old posts.
- Know your interview skills & etiquette
Conducting an effective interview isn’t just about asking the right questions. How you ask them and how you guide the conversation matters. Refine your interview skills by:
- Listening actively and be prepared for conversation, not just a Q&A.
- Pausing between questions. By giving them this space to think—and to stew a bit in the uncomfortable silence—you might get an answer you weren’t expecting after they give you a conventional answer.
- Never asking yes or no questions. Keep your questions open-ended so you’re not always following up for elaborations.
- Make it valuable for the client
Show them you care. Ask questions about the interviewee’s career, their business aspirations, relationships and struggles. Thank them sincerely for their time, of course, and show them the fruits of your (and their) labour. Report back on how well your newly inspired content is performing.
Featuring the interviewee as the actual subject of a blog is a great opportunity to give their brand some humanity and more engagement when you share it on social media. Voila — bonus points for brand awareness.
Regardless of how you approach client interviews, at the end of the day your blog has to provide value to your readers. What don’t they already know about the client that you could show them in creative ways? Does it share knowledge that they would walk away with remembering or willing to share with people they know?
And, most importantly, ask yourself if you’re helping readers through their journey to making a great buying decision.