Content Marketing and Copywriting How to Interview for Great Content

Published on September 10th, 2013 | by Yael Grauer

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How to Conduct Great Interviews for Even Greater Content

Adding outside voices to your content marketing strategy can keep your emails, webinars, social and /or blog posts fresh and diverse, while providing your readers with another perspective of your industry. Whether you’re interviewing thought leaders or highlighting successful clients, interviewing or featuring others can build trust, credibility and authority for your brand, and allow you to contribute to an ongoing conversation. Tap into a symphony of voices in your content, and you’ll not only help answer your readers’ most pressing questions, but establish yourself as an industry leader in the process. We spoke with Andrew Warner, founder of the website Mixergy, where he masterfully interviews proven entrepreneurs about how they built successful companies. He provided the following tips for getting outside voices to dish for your audience.

Ask questions to which you really want to know the answers

If you land an interview with a leader in your industry, it can be tempting to focus on what they’ve accomplished in an attempt to impress your audience with the size of their success. Don’t let that stop you from going deeper, and from delving into issues you’re dealing with yourself.

​“All those questions that are really painful for you are more interesting, because you’ll have a spin on them that’s unique to you, and since you’re really experiencing it, it becomes more meaningful,” says Warner. Your genuine curiosity and knowledge of the pain points in your industry makes it easy for you to pinpoint when an answer seems incomplete.

Warner did this himself when he interviewed author and thought leader Seth Godin.

​“I said, ‘Seth, you want us to build a tribe, but I can’t even get anyone to come to my site. What do I do?’ And in that question, by getting real with him, he was able to give me a really useful answer,” Warner recalls. ​The advice was particularly useful not just to his viewers, but to Warner as well. “I realized that I shouldn’t keep measuring myself by how many people are following me today, I should judge myself by whether I show up each day and whether I’m speaking my mind every day, and whether I’m being curious every day…and that helped me build a following.”

Don’t over-prepare

Warner recalls when he had spent so much time prepping for a video interview at one point, that it actually had a negative impact. “I read the book, I was prepared, I understood the book so well that as he was answering, I interrupted him to finish the answer for him! I over-prepared and forgot it was not about what I know, it’s about what the guest knows,” he said.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the basic background research on someone’s career or prepare questions and discussion topics in advance, but it does mean that you’ll want to ask the kind of questions your readers would be interested in, the kind that generate surprising and interesting responses.

Similarly, don’t try to impress the person you’re interviewing with your knowledge. Let them impress you and your audience.

Provide client case studies

Interviewing people who use your product or service is great for building brand awareness, so long as you’re offering valuable content instead of a prolonged sales pitch or long-form testimonial.

​“See if there’s something you can teach that will work outside of your product, and will be valuable to someone who may never sign up for the product at all,” Warner advises.

​For example, bestselling author Ramit Sethi has a series of case studies of clients who have dramatically increased their income, as a soft advertisement for an online course. Visual Website Optimizer has a series of case studies showing ways clients used their A/B testing tool and benefited from experiments conducted using their program. And of course, you can always check out the VerticalResponse case studies.

​“Now, that’s an ad [case study], but because they taught us what this client did and we were able to take that approach, that mindset, and those tactics and use them anywhere, it was useful on its own,” Warner explains.

Want to know how to write an excellent customer case study? Refer to our blog post: Gain More Credibility with a Customer Case Study

Do you conduct interviews to incorporate into your own content marketing? Have any tips to add to this list? Share them in the comments.

 This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com.

© 2013 – 2014, Yael Grauer. All rights reserved.

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Yael Grauer

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