When a journalist is short on story ideas, interviews are their go-to option. So take a page from a journalist’s notebook. Interviews can be a powerful and simple tool in your content marketing repertoire.
Below are a few simple tips to create a nearly endless stream of marketing content – print, audio, or video – without investing a ton of time.
Talk to your people
You have people – customers, clients, investors, members, funders, volunteers, board members, and more. Who do you serve? And who serves you? Think about all of the people in your organization’s circle. Write them down.
What about the people who influence you or your organization? Are there big thinkers in your field that you want to interview? Write down your influencers as well.
You can hone your list and decide to focus on a certain group, or you can mix it up and interview folks from every group. If you mix it up, your questions might change from interview to interview — but they might not.
What should you ask them?
Remember your English 101 lessons: who, what, when, where, why. Make a list of questions that you’d like to ask your interviewee answering as many of these questions as possible. Here are a few ideas:
What is your name? What do you do? When did you get involved with ABC organization? How are you involved with this organization? Why are you involved with this organization? Who or what got you involved? What do you love about this organization? What’s your favorite memory from being involved with ABC organization? Try to choose questions that require more than one-word answers.
The nonprofit marketing guide has some great examples of over 25 questions. You don’t need to use them all, but have a handful you definitely want to ask, and then a second tier of questions on hand to help keep the interview going in case the subject is not giving very interesting answers.
Finally, consider ending each interview with the same question. Make it unique but also topical to your organization.
Example: If your nonprofit throws birthday parties for homeless youth, you could ask the subject to share their most memorable birthday cake as a child, or maybe their favorite birthday dessert.
My most memorable childhood birthday cake? A basketball-shaped cake filled with mint chocolate chip ice cream.
To record or not to record?
Recording the audio or video is not necessary. But there are benefits. For one, it allows you to go back and make sure you have the content accurate, especially with any direct quotes. Second, you don’t have to take as many notes. And finally, if you want audio or video content for your marketing efforts, it provides more material.
Though for any recording – audio or video, in person or remote – you need to notify your subject that they are being recorded at the very beginning.
If you’re conducting the interview in person and decide to record it, you’ll want to experiment with the lighting and sound in different locations. Do you need more light? Should you situate the interviewee by a window or add more artificial lights? Do you need a tripod? Do you have a decent enough camera? Do you need microphones? You may need to do several trial runs until you get something that looks decent and sounds decent. However, the more you record, the more proficient you’ll get at it.
If you’re doing a remote interview, you can record an audio file or a video file using third-party software through Skype or FaceTime.
How to lead a great interview
With some proper preparation, you can lead a great interview that generates a variety of content you can use for your organization. Below are a few tips you can use.
- Pretend you’re a news reporter.
- Have your questions ready beforehand.
- Arrive early
- Bring a notepad and pen or a laptop for writing
- Ask the easy questions first
If you’re recording:
- Introduce yourself and your guest first, and then start asking questions.
- Do several trial runs with colleagues or friends to work out the kinks.
- End the video by thanking the guest and giving your viewers a call to action.
Producing the content
For a video, you can edit as needed to keep it short. You’re aiming for 30-60 seconds – 90 seconds at the most. Check out our other post for more tips on video.
For audio content, you can also edit as needed, and you can add your own voiceovers to segue between topics or explain concepts. If you have a Mac, iMovie makes it simple to edit audio content as well as video.
To make a blog post, you can write a simple Q&A style article, with answers edited for brevity. It’s important to tell readers in the text that answers have been edited for brevity.
A real-world example of the absolute simplest interview and resulting content
This blog post took me 15 minutes to interview and write. It’s part marketing research and part marketing content. The goal was to draw people into a new kind of karaoke bar, with private karaoke suites and cutting-edge software that makes it incredibly easy and fun to get your groove on with absolutely no pressure, by showcasing semi-reluctant karaoke singers. Any B2C company could do this, as could any nonprofit.
City: Portland, Oregon
Occupation(s): Environmental planner and mom
Do you like to sing? Yes.
When was the first time you tried karaoke? I had been to karaoke before, maybe in 2001 when I was a graduate student. But I was too shy sing.
Why? I didn’t know the people there. And it was a big space. I was nervous about what songs to choose. I felt judged, and I’m just nervous in front of people in general.
What was it like when you went to Voicebox Karaoke? I actually sang! My friend invited me for her birthday. And I sang because it was a small room, and though I didn’t know everybody there, since it was friends of my friends, it felt comfortable. I liked that adding songs to our playlist was easy. And I was surprised because I ended up wanting to hog the mic! Which is both surprising and not surprising, I guess. But I was surprised.
Do you have a favorite karaoke song to sing? No, but I have sung Closer To Fine by the Indigo Girls more than once. Also I like singing Pearl Jam songs.
Why do you like Voicebox? It’s such an intimate space. You feel like you’re participating even if you’re not on the mic. Everyone was singing along. It’s more collective.
What celebrity would you most like to karaoke with? The Avett Brothers.
Keep It Simple
Interviews can be as simple or complex as you need them to be. I recommend simple. My last recommendation is that you also consider what other purposes these interviews can serve, such as: market research, strengthening donor or member relationships, or generating ideas for subjects who can be highlighted in future fundraising appeal letters.