Are you using any strategies to reach your target market? Maybe a better first question is do you really know who your audience is and what they care about? We’re not talking buyer personas or demographic data. We’re talking about the most influential people who matter to your brand or the area you live and work in. Who are these people? What do they want to see, hear, and learn? What do they contribute to the community?
A few years ago, we started interviewing local business owners and community advocates on our Metaphorically Speaking Podcast, covering pivotal moments when an event or experience dramatically shifted the direction of their story and what it means to them to function as a small business. We found these moments to be fascinating, so we started talking to more local entrepreneurs and exploring their plot twists, pain points that led them to start their businesses, and what their thoughts were on marketing and communications.
What began as a fun and interesting project quickly turned into a regular part of our strategic communication and marketing initiatives. You see, face-to-face communication always nets the most valuable information. Interviews minimize distractions, eliminate groupthink, and foster deep thought.
For our team, we were experiencing first-hand how small businesses in the area were thinking and what they liked (and didn’t like) about partnerships or clients they worked with. It gave us direct insight into how they ran their business and what drove them to make business decisions.
Not only that, it reminded us as a company that we are not our target market. We needed to keep perspective and look outside ourselves with marketing strategies. Interviewing gave us a fun, but practical perspective that allowed us to better tailor our services and offerings towards our future clients.
Below, you’ll learn about the logistics and benefits of interviewing and how they can shape strategies for your target market.
When it comes to impact, your small business’s marketing and communications will only succeed if you tell the right stories to the right people. That means understanding who you are speaking to and what matters to them. That’s where interviewing comes into play. Here are some of the biggest benefits you can expect to see from engaging in this medium.
Interviewing other business leaders provides a 360-degree view of how your organization is perceived. It’s all too easy for organizations to develop their own ideas about how they are seen by local businesses. Without the input of external audiences, these impressions are little more than self-perceptions. They may contain kernels of truth, but they aren’t complete. Target audience interviews allow outsiders to offer their perspective on your brand and can also shed light on gaps.
Second, interviews help you gain a much deeper understanding of the people or groups who are impacted by or support your brand. They give you fresh insights into why certain people feel connected to your business and story. In addition, they clarify the values and motivations behind specific connections.
Interviewing your customers or community partners in-person allows you the unique opportunity to engage one-on-one. You’re able to ask follow-up questions, probe for deeper answers and gather incredibly substantial insights. In-person interviews also allow you to capture the interviewees’ raw emotions and behaviors better than any other method.
Conducting interviews allows you to gain unique insight into what your customers or potential clients are looking for in your line of work. It could be as simple as a trustworthy friend or as complex as This information should be invaluable to your brand, especially if patterns develop after multiple interviews.
If you don’t work in a client-facing role on a regular basis, then you might not be as familiar with the language and vocabulary they’re using. If you use business jargon or highly technical language, they might not understand what you’re talking about in your marketing materials. Interviews are a great chance to learn how your audience speaks so you can communicate with them more effectively.
Word-of-mouth marketing continues to be one of the most effective ways to grow your brand. We’ve seen this time and time again in the after of the interview. Not only do interviews allow you to grow your network, but they establish a deeper level of trust between you and the person you are interviewing; thus making them more likely to expose you to their personal networks in the future. In conclusion, it also allows you to identify new audiences you never even thought about in the past.
Before getting started with your interview, there’s some important prep work that needs to take place.
Before you write out your questions, you should first set a goal for what you’d like to get out of the interviews. What are you hoping to get out of your time spent with the customer or guest? Are you simply wanting to learn about how they got started? Are you wanting to know what technology they like to work with? Or, are you looking to better understand the customer journey so you can streamline their experience? You can approach an interview with multiple goals, but clearly defining them will save you both time and energy.
Take some time thinking about who you want to interview. Who are your best customers? Who do you know well enough to ask for feedback? What people in the community stand out to you? Make a longer list than you think you need, so you can reach out to several different people and hopefully get a few interviews scheduled.
Once you’ve determined who your guest is going to be, you need to extend an invitation to that person. What makes your interview valuable to this person? What benefits will they receive from it? What will make them jump at the chance to talk to you? Be sure to also sound genuine and un-robotic. A personal email or call works best for the invite.
When doing your outreach to potential interviewees, include as many logistics as possible.What days and times do you have available for the interview? How long will the interview take? Determine a comfortable and quiet place where you can hold the interview.
Come prepared to your interview with a list of questions and an outline, but also be ready to go off-script. Your discussion may not flow exactly in-sync with your plan so you might have to adapt the conversation. Additionally, think about how you are going to record the interview: Audio? Video? Taking notes? We suggest using two methods at once in case one doesn’t work out.
After the interview is over, be sure to follow-up with your interviewee, thanking them for their time. If you plan on using the interview for something external facing, be sure to get their permission first and let them know once it’s live.
Once you’ve completed the interview, it’s time to review the discussion and feedback. Look back over your goals to see if you were able to accomplish what you were looking for. Was it a successful conversation? Interviews provide valuable insight into best practices as well as business problems and how successful you might be at solving them.
By talking with the most influential people to your brand, you have the opportunity to really learn from the and what they want to see and hear. You’ll learn what they read and share online, and how they engage with your competitors. From these interviews, you’ll be able to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they go through on a daily basis, and then frame your content marketing in a way that resonates with them.