Brand Planning Tip. Hear the Energy.

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Over the years I’ve found many words around which to probe when interviewing people to get to important, actionable branding insights.  “Pride” is one such word.  On the business side “tolerance” is another.  “What are some other things you are willing to tolerate if they help you make money.” For building a business plan, I have the 24 questions.  If going short form, a diff battery of questions to get at what’s what. 

But in all frankness, it’s not the forms; they are just a starting place — a brand planner has to have a good ear. And s/he turns that ear into a microphone that plays back what it hears into further probes…creating energy. If energy or heat is generated around an opportunity or an advantage, take that path because energy begets energy.  If the probee checks his or her mobile, abort and redirect.

As an anthropology student at Rollins College, I was once rebuked by a peer who thought as an ethnographer I needed to stay outside of the events observed. By insinuating myself into the situation I changed it, and he was quite right. But as a brand planner, people want to know you care about what they care about.  Then they open up.  I’m not talking about panelists talking about their itchy asses behind the glass, I’m talking about two people looking into one another eyes, and talking with personal energy and interest. Ask, listen, learn. Go off piste if it is where the interview goes. Probees can see your interest in your eyes. They can hear it in the timbre of your voice. If you are energized, they will deliver. Peace.