Interviewing Niche B2B Experts For A Better Content Strategy
The B2B industry can be niche and specific, which can lead some people to feel the need to be an expert to create a successful content strategy.
What if I told you, with a little practice and minimal resources, you could create a strategy like an insider?
An interview (when done right) can really be a powerful tool for getting to know someone, or something, in-depth.
This is especially useful in B2B settings where we can use the Problem > Solution > Impact framework to guide the process.
In this article, we’ll look at why interviewing is an important part of the new client onboarding process, who to interview, and how to prepare—plus some tips and sample questions to get you started.
Why conduct interviews?
Interviews are an incredibly useful tool when working in a field or industry that you may not be familiar with.
This is because it can be used as a research technique to understand culture.
Culture – defined as a system of beliefs, worldviews, and values that influence behavior and the physical world around a part of society – and is central to understanding individuals’ consumption and buying behaviors and motivations.
Anthropologists use interviewing to learn more about human behavior because it facilitates human connection, encouraging empathy and insights that often cannot be gained elsewhere.
For the past year, I’ve been working with a B2B SaaS startup in a niche industry – and after doing as much research as possible online, I was still at a loss for how to create one that would engage readers and convert them into customers.
I felt like a scam, and my content made it clear I wasn’t one of them.
Without that human contact, my writing felt dry and didn’t strike at the underlying motivations or problems of individuals or companies in that industry.
That’s when I decided to take advantage of my training as an anthropologist.
I asked if I could schedule an interview with an employee at the startup. The insights I gained into the company and the industry were invaluable.
This then led me to remember that I have a family member who also works in this field, and I asked them for 30 minutes to pick their brains.
These two interviews led to a much deeper understanding of my client’s daily workload, workflow, and expectations of their clients and the culture of their industry.
In turn, this helped me create better content that resonated with their target audience.
While SEO sounds technical and more quantitative, there are humans behind the keywords.
Behind humans, we have a whole world of influences, experiences, history, and Market myths To detect.
These things cannot be measured in Google Analytics.
Who are you going to meet
It depends on the number of resources available and your ability.
An interview can be as simple as a 20-minute video call, or as in-depth as an hour-long conversation over coffee.
It also depends on the scope and depth of the topic.
Usually, you will start with your research on the company and its industry. Start at Wikipedia and start the journey down the rabbit hole.
After completing your homework, you will better understand where there are gaps in your knowledge.
This can help you decide who to interview.
It could be an employee from the client’s organization, someone who is active on LinkedIn, or even a third cousin who works in the industry.
Use your discretion and professionalism to choose the person with whom you can build a good relationship.
Practice makes you better
If you’ve never interviewed before, practicing a few skills will go a long way.
It looks easier than it is, and there are no overrides.
Below, I share two aspects of interviews that I find most important and how to prepare for them.
1. Take notes
Choose a well-trafficked location in your area, such as a weekend flea market, local mall, sporting event, or dog park.
Use a notebook and pen – no writing.
Find a place where you can sit for about 30 minutes and take notes while watching everything around you.
There is no need to be a spy or hide behind bushes. Blend in, but be aware.
Take notes of what you see for five minutes and include as many details as possible. Break for five minutes and read your notes, then repeat two more times.
This process will help you learn to take better notes and to be an observer rather than a participant.
In your interview, you don’t want to take notes nonstop, nor should you.
Interviews should be recorded based on the participant’s consent, and notes should supplement things not mentioned.
Did the interviewer get nervous about a particular topic? Are they filled with excitement by talking about someone else? Notice these things.
2. Active listening
Active listening is another essential skill for a great interview.
Active listening is being present and engaged in a conversation. This means that you listen to everything the interviewee is telling you and process his or her point of view, while leaving yours to yourself.
Recruit a friend to help you improve active listening with this exercise.
Set the timer for five minutes.
One of you shares a story or explains something while the other listens.
After five minutes, the listener will try to remember as many details as possible about what they have just been told.
Switch places and repeat.
This exercise helps build patience (waiting for your turn to speak), listening skills (not planning what to say next), and presence (through eye contact).
Tips for conducting interviews
- Audio recording of the interviewbut do not forget to receive written consent.
- Take notes on things not said.
- Keep the interview short, about three to five questions (by length).
- After the guest has stopped talking, give them three to four seconds of silence. This encourages many people to share more, just by giving them space to talk and listen.
- Be interested in the conversation, but there is no need to relate or elaborate on their stories. Every moment you spend talking equals less information from them.
- Ask questions to encourage elaboration. For example, what happened next? How did you explain it to them? Does this happen regularly? What do you think that?
- Prepare to meet you by searching from the industry.
- Don’t forget to get express consent Respecting the privacy of the participants.
- Reciprocity can be a Long The way – use it.
Sample questions to ask the experts
The goal of interviewing experts is to learn about their passions and problems in casual conversation.
Overly formalizing the interview can make participants feel uncomfortable sharing their personal feelings.
Consider the Problem > Solution > Impact Model as you prepare your questions.
Here are some examples that work great.
- How do we get to this line of work?
- What is your favorite thing Around [industry/profession/workflow]?
- What tool do you use every day at work? What’s so great about it? What do you want to change?
- What does your daily workflow look like?
- How are your relationships with clients? Anything you would like to improve?
- Do you follow current trends, news, influencers or creators? in your field? from?
Another gold mine if they are active online and can share with a few individuals from their industry – or even blogs, YouTube channels or social media accounts.
This will become invaluable when it comes time to create and distribute content.
Be careful asking questions. While it’s an interview, you should feel comfortable, like the conversation.
Only then will the interviewee exchange the most honest answers.
Create better content from interviews
Now that we’ve analyzed the interview, it’s time to take what you learned and transform your content.
Take an interesting or controversial point from the interview, and present it as a question on an appropriate platform where others in the industry can express their views.
Why does this work?
It is possible that the topic you brought up is a point of contention for others in the industry. Posting this is a subtle alert that you are an insider in their group.
It also shows that you care about what people have to say.
Social polls can spark a larger discussion or yield interesting results.
If either of these two happen, you take it a step further and create longer content from that concept.
A blog article sharing quotes from experts and professionals from social opinion polling can bring in new readers and help with distribution.
Update existing content
Refreshing existing content is my favorite content strategy of all time.
There is no way you can make a blog post worse the second time around; It’s always getting better.
If your interview was successful, you may have picked up some new information about how certain topics are discussed and the terminology that goes around them.
Editing the writing style found in blog posts to reflect the linguistic patterns of the industry will give readers an idea that this person knows what they are talking about.
Have you ever read something and immediately connected with it?
You may have felt like someone was reading your mind, and as uncomfortable as that sounds, we as humans find it very comforting.
These positive cues that someone is in “our group” help us build lasting relationships.
There are countless ways to use interviews to inform or help create a content strategy—whether it’s inspiring a new piece of content, or influencing your writing style or the language used in your copy.
The opportunities are endless.
If you take anything away from this piece, understand that (most) people are social and like to talk about themselves or their interests.
If someone isn’t interested in the interview or seems closed off, don’t choose them.
When an anthropologist is in the field and chooses an informant, it is someone who agrees with him, is respected or well-known in the community, and knowledgeable about a particular topic.
Embrace our basic need for human connection and use it to amplify your content strategy.
If you are humble and willing to learn from others, you won’t be there in no time.
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Featured image: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock