Want powerful brand communication? Just ask.

Here’s my deepest, darkest secret.

I’ve never actually created brand communication for a client. They do all the work themselves.

No, they don’t mail in sketches and taglines. I just chat with their customers. I ask them pointed questions. They answer. We explore. Nuggets of pure gold appear. Those nuggets become the brand, and the communication.

It’s all very common sense. After all, those people are buying the product for a reason. Ask properly, and they’ll tell you exactly what they like about it.

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t common practice. Entrepreneurs still create brands without consulting consumers . The results are, well, 97% of the terrible brands out there.

Let’s fix that problem. Let’s talk to your customers.

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Getting the best insights means asking the right questions

Interviews aren’t checklists. They’re conversations.

If you’ve ever been ‘interviewed’ by a slack-jawed student with a clipboard in a shopping mall, you’ll know how not to do an interview.

This isn’t about checking boxes and getting yes / no answers.

It’s about starting with a core question, then using the five wise men – who, what, where, when, how, and why – to dig dig dig deeper. You know you’re getting somewhere when customers get a bit flummoxed with all your ‘whys’ and ‘hows’, and start spouting answers that just pop into their heads. You’re hitting stream-of-consciousness gold, baby.

One final note that can’t be overstated in these times of online text-based everything: do these interviews face-to-face, or via videoconference. If there’s no other option, phone is OK but not ideal. Never, ever send out surveys. The key is to interact with your interviewee – their body language will tell you as much as their words.

Secret: consumers kinda like it

If you believe this is an imposition on the person you’re interviewing (aka you’re bugging them / they’re doing you an enormous favour), you’ll feel nervous and sheepish.

To get over this nervousness, simply remember that you’re having a chat. Imagine you’re talking sports, or weather, or what the world is coming to now with these kids and their rock ‘n roll.

And always remember, people like to talk about things that are interesting. And the most interesting thing is them. So approach them in the spirit of tapping their wisdom. Respect their opinion. Dig deep.

Six lousy questions?

In truth, six is too many. If you dig deep on each question (remember, who, what, where, when, why and how), you’ll probably get to three or four in the course of an interview. Let me underline that the point of these interviews is to get people to open up in conversation. Not to tick boxes.

With that in mind, here are the questions I most often ask:

  1. Why do you use this product?
  2. What’s the biggest problem it solves for you?
  3. Have you tried the competition? Why did you switch?
  4. What’s the single thing you like the best about this product?
  5. What needs some work?
  6. Describe the feel of the company.  Do you get any sense of the people making this product and what their values are?  Are they any different than the people making other, competitor products?

Feeling sheepish?

Asking people what they think about your product, company or brand is terrifically enlightening. But it can be painful. That’s why people hire me. I have no problem asking for unvarnished truth. And because I’m not connected with the product or company, consumers usually don’t have a problem giving me the straight goods.

If you want to work with me, that’s terrific. Click here and we’ll chat. If not, think hard about finding someone you trust who doesn’t work for you to do the interviews.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get great ideas – just by asking.

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