Interviewing people for brand strategy development is the bread and butter of the softer side of the job. I say the softer side because brand strategy, after you get through the money making stuff, is all about people, ideas, motivations and desires (or lack thereof).
I was reading a thing in the NYT this morning on the topic of “asking for help” and realized how it intersects with my interviewing technique. When interviewing someone, at the beginning they are often of the belief that it will be like a journalist’s interview. That mindset is one I quickly debunk. From the outset, I let interviewees know they are the expert and I the pupil. I try not to be obsequious (a talent), all the while sharing my genuine interest in them, their life, and the topic. My technique is not all inbound information, I share too. When you share and do so in humorous and sometimes vulnerable ways, people tend to open up.
The consumer interview is the key to the brand strategy business. If you have only one tool in your brand planer kit, it better be a good ear. But you need to prime the pump by sharing to have something good to hear.