As advocates of ‘thinking like a publisher’ when it comes to content marketing, we write a fair amount of interview-style articles for our customers ie. we identify influencers in their market place, interview them and create content for our customers to take to their audience under their brands.
This type of content adds a different dimension to your content portfolio and is great for demonstrating to prospects that you are actively engaged with key players in your industry and, therefore, must know your stuff!
Where do interviews work in the sales funnel?
Whilst interviews can work well throughout the sales funnel, they tend to be more powerful at the middle and bottom ie. when a prospect has already heard of you but is now developing an interest in what you have to say and might be considering you as a potential supplier.
Conducting and creating a high quality interview is a harder job than you might think but if you take on board the advice from our journalists, you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Interviews give real, in-depth information from experts within their respective fields. Using an interviewee’s knowledge and expertise gives content much more authority; often highlighting things that could have been missed by even the most ardent researcher. In addition, interview-led content is great for originality as the quotes will be unique, so not shared anywhere else online. This way, if any other news sources want to quote these words, they need to attribute your research, meaning your brand name or URL will go with it.
Interviewing the experts gives content a whole new dimension, allowing you to produce a unique, insightful and interesting article. It positions the brand as more than just up-to-date with industry news and events; you effectively become a magazine – which is far more appealing for your target market. Interviewing isn’t easy, though – to make it worth your while, ensure you have adequate recording equipment and writers who can confidently ask the right questions.
Companies shouldn’t be tempted to ask the inexperienced marketing assistant to pick up the phone and pose questions to an interviewee. I’d advise using a journalist or well-practiced interviewer for this task, as they’re confident at getting the best sound bites out of even the most introverted participant. A seasoned journalist will have a little black book of contacts, so will be able to source the right interviewee for a piece of content, saving valuable research time.
When it comes to the interview itself, I always send topics for discussion to the participant pre-interview, to ensure they’re prepared and don’t become too nervous. It’s important to let the participant know they’re being recorded and have a conversation with them, rather than constantly firing questions. A good interview will spawn a solid feature and could even provide fodder or quotes for future pieces, so making the interviewee feel comfortable is vital, as they’ll be more likely to open up. It’s always polite (and good practice) to send the completed piece to the interviewee before publishing, to ensure there’s no misinterpretation and build a good working relationship for the future.
Interviews are a great way to get unique content that no one else will have on your site. Plus, if you can get some industry experts commenting on a key issue in your sector, it will boost your brand’s authority. However, the interviews need to be interesting and shouldn’t just be a list of questions and answers. It takes skill to properly perform and write up an interview, so it’s a good idea to hire a journalist to do the job.
I would say try and get unique interviews firstly. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon and create content for the sake of it, and the same goes for interviews. Nobody wants to read an interview that has already been produced, or read from an industry player that has been ‘everywhere.’
Look for new and upcoming influencers for your chosen topic and then take a twist on a traditional interview technique. Turn it into a debate, a list of answers or make it into a video, podcast etc. Make it unique to you and your company so that readers have to come back and engage with your brand
Originality will play a key part in the effectiveness of your content, and interviewing is a great way to achieve it. It gives you a chance to get useful information and stories straight from the source, ensuring accuracy and exclusivity. Just be sure to pick your interviewees carefully; they must have something interesting and relevant to offer. Their position will also be important – aim for someone who will be trusted and respected by your audience.
First, make sure you don’t just have a chat, because people in conversation often don’t talk in complete rounded sentences. You need to listen out for complete statements. If people don’t articulate points well, repeat them back to them in a way that makes it a better soundbite and ask them to agree if that’s what they are saying. A time-honoured Fleet Street technique is to put words into a person’s mouth and then ask them if they agree that’s what they are saying. You get a better quote that way.
Second, research your subject before you speak to them. Find out about their interests, things they have written. This will help you find things that may be emotive to them, which gets them talking passionately. You can then lead from there to ask related questions.