Give the interview your brand story deserves

What the interview tells us

We’re asked to write and design a lot of websites. An important part of this, for us, is the start up interview we do with clients so that we understand their story at the outset. The purpose of the interview isn’t just to research the content we’ll be creating. It also helps us determine the visuals, the overall look and feel and brand differentiation. This occurs through answers to questions such as:

What’s the tone of the business?

Who needs to hear your businesses story?

What do they want?

What to they need?

How will you deliver this to them?

Once we’ve established the foundation, I like to take a deeper dive into some of the things I’ve heard with questions like – What do you mean by that? Can you be more specific? Why do you need more customers? What do you want them to say about you?

Occasionally, clients have pushed back when I prod them for these answers. I understand this psychology – sometimes we’re uncomfortable facing what’s difficult for us. But I persist because I know that my clients’ customers are looking for the truth. They want stories that are specific, interesting, surprising, helpful, and authentic. They want to hear that you acknowledge and understand their pain and care about providing solutions. Sometimes this gets complicated. If it does, I know we’re on to something.

Being interviewedA good interviewer knows how to ask the right questions that earns the trust of clients. That trust is important because it strengthens the two-way relationship. If someone has trusted me with his or her story, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that the content or article I develop honours that trust.

What that means is that at the outset, I’ll be ensuring that the story is professionally written, accurate and in step with the piece’s overall goals. But that’s just the start.

Building trust takes more work, but it’s the work I love most.

As an example, earlier this week I was talking to a potential client for the first time. I could hear the agony in her voice as she described trying to develop content for her website on her own for several weeks. She realized she needed help and called me.

As we talked through the challenges she’s been facing, I naturally started interviewing her and the veil began to lift. We barely scratched the service but I could already hear the panic subsiding as she began to see that I could be trusted with her story.

That’s where it all starts and I’m often shocked by how often businesses under-manage this aspect of their brand. You could have the greatest business idea with an amazing story behind it – but if no one hears it, your chances of ongoing, lasting success are greatly reduced. Why do so many business owners take that chance?

I love what Rob Hatch of Owner Media Group wrote about this:

“The reality is, your stories reveal part of who you are and what you’re capable of even as you have yet to accomplish your greatest achievements.”

The startup interview might help you discover aspects of your story and business you haven’t even thought of. So if whomever is charged with developing your website, or your blog, articles, videos or other social media asks for an interview…give them the time. Otherwise they will only be telling part of your story.

In my case, such interviews have caused a few new business owners to rethink their approach. In one instance, the client actually discovered she didn’t want to do the business at all and decided to stay in her full-time job in which she has found increasing satisfaction and success. I like to think that’s in part, because the questions I asked helped her see the story she was meant to be in.

The Content Management Institute states: Your story identifies what your passions are and serves as the foundation for all your future content developments.

If you’re wondering where to start with your story, I might be able to help. Send me an email or drop by my contact page.

If I don’t hear from you soon, that’s okay too. I’ll be back with another story next month.

Feature illustration by MightyWrite’s Michael Fournier ©2015

Photo Credit: Getting the story of startup success from Andrea Kraj of CORE Renewable Energy Corp. at Innovate Manitoba’s Pitch’Day. Photo by Leif Norman.

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