The Interview.


I’ve built my brand planning methodology around the personal interview. It’s how I get to branding insights. Typically my interviews are with C-level executives, sales people, outside SMEs (subject matter experts), and customers.

Business-to-business clients are different from consumer companies. Large corporations are different from small businesses. Online and brick and mortar also offer substantially different challenges. And startups, that’s a post of different color. But what binds all these client types together is the fact that they all have chiefs, all have sales people and all have customers — the oxygen that gives life.

The questionnaires are different for chiefs, sales people and SMEs. (We’ll get to consumers later.) The chief questions are follow-the-money questions. How to sell more, to more, more often, at higher prices. The sales questions are more transactional in nature. They revolve around removing impediments, building preference and earning commission/money. The questionnaire for SMEs is built to elicit the outsiders view because if your only view is inside the company you’re sniffing your own fumes.

The questionnaires get people talking. Once chatting, the interview can go in many directions. It’s my job to keep the person talking, interested and thoughtful. The last thing you want to happen is to get rote answers. This is where the skill comes in. No matter the person, everyone can be nudged into interesting territory.

Last, is the consumer interview. I’ve done retail intercepts and sold kitchen remodeling, belly-to-belly at Costco, BJs and home shows. And honesty there is no static questionnaire that works. That’s why written consumer research questionnaires are soooo deadly. And focus groups not far behind.

I’ll dive into this topic tomorrow.