How to interview your customers to create new content

how to interview your customers to create new content

Creating content from customer interviews is a great way to make sure you’re addressing the needs and interests of your target audience. After all, your ideal audience is composed of your current and prospective customers. They may not be ready to buy from you now, but consumers of your content may be ready to buy from you in the future, so it’s important that they are aware of your solution and how customers are using it to solve problems now.

It’s a no brainer to create content based on what your current customers are telling you because they are the best advocates for your solution. After all, they either currently have the problem you are solving, or they no longer do because you solved it already. Putting your customers in the spotlight is a great way to let your audience view your product and solution through the eyes of someone who has found value in your offering and let them picture themselves in the shoes of someone who has solved this problem already. 

Creating content, whether it’s for social, blog, or email should provide value to your customers or prospective customers. In addition to creating a valuable piece of content, the repurposing and distribution potential is massive. From a single interview, it’s straightforward to publish a week’s worth of social posts, an email marketing newsletter, and multiple infographics. Let’s see how creating content based on customer interviews can provide a unique point of view for your new content strategy.

Identifying customer advocates

First thing first, who should you reach out to for an interview? Whether you have two customers or two thousand, this should be approached carefully. Obviously the goal is to find a customer advocate that has great success with your product and is willing to speak positively about it. If this is hard to find, you may want to pump the brakes until your product is solving a real problem for your customers and they are confident that your solution is providing real business value. 

If your company already has case studies or testimonials on your website, this is a great place to start. In addition, look at users who may have left a positive review on sites like G2 and Capterra if you have any. Companies and individuals who have already raised their hand to willingly champion your product are fantastic candidates to interview.

Companies and individuals who have already raised their hand to willingly champion your product are fantastic candidates to interview.

Another spot to look for good customer interview candidates is within your product usage data. This may take time to collaborate with your product or analytics team, but it could be the best way to identify super users. Uncovering customers that are using your product in a unique or particularly effective way gives you a head start in leading them towards a unique and valuable point of view for your interview or article.

Asking the right questions

The right questions are the ones that will most easily demonstrate the value your product brings to your customer. 

All of your customers probably have similar reasons for using your product or services, but each one also has a unique point of view. It’s our job to dig into this unique point of view as deeply as possible. No reader wants to read an interview where the answers don’t reveal anything different than their own problems and experiences. This is no easy task, but with the right questions you can uncover what is unique about each of your interview subjects.

Focus on their problems 

Your current customers and your prospective customers likely have one very important thing in common: a problem.

Your current customers and your prospective customers likely have one very important thing in common: a problem.

This is what you should focus on. What problem did they have at work that your product or solution solved?

It’s pretty straightforward, but many interviews tend to focus on other things not related to the core reason they are a customer in the first place.

Focus on their team

Few people work alone, especially if you’re selling software or services to businesses. It’s likely that there were multiple decision makers that were behind the decision to use your product, and the more people you link to the value you provide, the higher percentage of your audience you will resonate with.

For example, if you are selling accounting software and you are interviewing and an individual that happens to oversee the tax aspects of their company’s finance department but doesn’t touch payroll, budget, or financial planning, it’s a great idea to ask this person questions about how they interact with those other roles and how your solution helps their organization as a whole, even if it’s indirectly. 

By including as many people in the narrative of the interview, you’ll make sure to have a deeper impact on a larger percentage of your entire audience.

Focus on their successes 

There’s no point in interviewing a customer that hasn’t experienced some success with your product. We want to communicate a successful picture in order to allow prospective customers and other members of your audience to visualize themselves in your subject’s shoes.

By starting with their problems and diving deep into how your product led them to success. Your audience will be able to map this conversation about their own current or potential future situation and see how your product will add value.

Return the favor

Whether you’re selling a product to developers, finance, or marketing there is probably a way you can support their initiative, whatever it may be, in return.

Offering a quid pro quo upfront before the interview is a great way to ensure a valuable interview. People act in response to incentives, whatever they might be. It’s important to understand what the incentive of your interview subject is. It might simply be that they like you and they want to help you out. This is great, so make sure they understand you appreciate this and that you are open to returning such a favor for the same reason, no string attached.

However, landing a high value interview without an existing personal relationship may require something other than a reciprocal affinity for each other. Take a look at your network and see how it may add value to what goals your interview subject may have, either professional or personal. 

It might simply be monetary compensation for their time which is quite frankly the cleanest type of transaction with a clear incentive. It might be an introduction to a high value prospect for their business that is in your network. Even if it’s an interview in return from someone at your company there’s always a way to find reciprocal value to make sure your subject gives a high quality interview and doesn’t give you canned answers that will provide little value to your readers.

Repurpose and distribute 

A customer interview transcript is great. So is a blog post based on a customer interviews. However, that can’t be the end of the road for this piece of content. You spent a lot of time analyzing your customer base trying to figure out which person or group of people will best demonstrate the value of your company. You painstakingly designed the interview questions, often having to badger the subject to respond because ya know, everyone is busy. The results finally came back, you put it all down on paper and provided your commentary and insights and hit publish. 

Time to dust off your hands and move on to the next thing? Not so fast. There’s a mantra we like to say around here and it’s “distribute distribute distribute repurpose repurpose repurpose”. There’s a lot more mileage you can get out of this piece of content. Before you move on, ask yourself these questions. 

Have you…

  • translated the results into an infographic?
  • put together a series of Tweets or a Twitter thread and a series of LinkedIn posts?
  • set up your newsletter to be sent off in the next month that summarizes the results and points your subscribers to read the full post?
  • scheduled and paired down version on Medium and LinkedIn article to be published in one or two weeks?
  • sent the interview out to your colleagues to share on their personal social pages to help them establish some personal brand awareness and advocate for your company?

There’s a whole lot you can do with this single effort and if you do it right, you can 10x the amount of content you publish without having to come up with new ideas and complete a new research task. 

Key takeaways

Interviews with customers make great topics for a variety of content types including video, audio, and blogs. The great thing about speaking to and recording a conversation with current customers is they understand the value of your product and can usually communicate it in a way that will resonate with prospective customers. Making sure you ask the right questions to uncover their unique point of view and being able to return a favor will guarantee your fresh content will have substance and depth. 

Although the original piece of content will have standalone value as a marketing asset, it’s always good to think ahead about how you will transform and convert the conversation into multiple formats for multiple platforms as part of your content distribution and repurposing frameworks