Strong content is the cornerstone of a healthy inbound marketing program. But great content is only as good as the resource fueling it.
Great content is:
- Competitive - It differentiates you amongst your competitors and offers people a reason to choose you over them.
- Valuable - It seeks to help and people learn to trust you because you've given them something that answers their questions, or is practical and useful.
- Stands Out - It helps you make a name for yourself, carve out your niche, shows why you're different (better), and more!
And what fuels great content? Great resource. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people get hung up before they've even started. Despite everyone's best intentions, many things just seem to get in the way.
Challenges With Collecting Resource Are:
- Clients - Whether your client is internal or external, things always come up. Interviews get pushed, you can't get access to the right people or information, one department is running the project, but can't get another department to give you what you need. People don't email you back or return your calls ...
- Time - Resource collection takes time and the people you need to talk to are busy. It can be difficult to wait for people to become available, particularly when your project is time-sensitive ...
- Access - This problem is varied. Maybe you can't get access to the end user to talk about the product. Maybe the SMEs (subject matter experts) are busy, have full schedules, travel frequently, you may need to speak with a client that only one person knows and get a hold of, and more ...
- Lack Of Results - Sometimes you want to make claims, but the data isn't there to validate it. Maybe your product hasn't been in the market long, or you don't have a complete (or comparable) data set. Sometimes clients don't want to let you use their name for case studies, or talk about their proprietary work ...
So we have to get creative. We know we need great resource, and our content (and marketing program) will suffer without it. And despite everyone's desire to get great resource, there are some obstacles to work around. Here are some tips and tricks we've found work for us, regardless of the challenge.
How To Collect Great Resource:
We've come up with a process that generally helps us work around many of the challenges and obstacles we often face with well-meaning clients who struggle to prioritize resource collection, but want great content yesterday!
- Go To Them - It's easy to reschedule a video or phone interview, but harder when that person has traveled to you, you have a time slot in a day of resource collection, and they've brought video equipment. Guilt is a very motivating factor!
- Batch Collect - For us, it becomes hard to get clients to schedule video or phone interviews and it's time consuming to be constantly rescheduling them. So we try to set aside a day (or two depending on the volume of content) each quarter. We go to them (see above), and we line up all the SMEs we might need to talk to. You need to be organized to do this, but it really pays off when you have everything you need for months and can "spend" your resource accordingly. Your content will be so much richer for it and your content creators will thank you.
- Get Everything - Sometimes it's hard to know in advance what will make a great video clip, vs. written post, etc. We try our best to capture all of our content on video so we have options for every other type of content. We can clip videos to use in posts and ads, we transcribe the interviews for written content, quotes, and more. Getting resource in it's highest usable form lets you be creative with the application and ensures you're not regretting that you didn't capture Jennifer on video with that brilliant and concise explanation of a complex topic. Some moments can't be recreated, but you can get them the first time.
Ensure Your Resource Is High Quality:
Your resource won't be very helpful for creating content if the quality isn't right. Here are some ways to ensure that what you get will be usable across different mediums with checklists for your resource collection day.
- Align with your project team(s) on what the resources can/should be used for, and the associated appropriate quality bar
- Create checklists in advance
- Gather and take inventory beforehand
- Make sure everybody (client company, teammates, client resource) knows the drill - what their role is, what is expected of them
- Set expectations with the client around quality needs, align on day-of do’s and don’ts, and try to make sure there won’t be surprises at the resource-gathering location
- Arrive early and set up early if possible - we suggest at least an hour
- Quickly scout for best potential resource-gathering areas and set ups
- Make sure resource-gathering environment is free of distractions and interruptions
- Run through and check off equipment set-up list
- Recruit other teammates/client helpers if you need to
- Take the time to test equipment and make sure everything is working properly
Think quickly, move quickly, and don’t settle; you may not get this chance again soon.
The microphone isn’t working?! Good thing you brought a second one.
The second microphone isn’t working?! Guess we’ll be using a cell phone.
There’s a jackhammer in the background!
Will the interview audio and video be used for corporate videos? If so, find a new location ASAP. If it’ll just be transcribed and not used as audio, no worries.
The lighting is bad … Turn off the overhead fluorescent lights and use just the video lights you brought, OR find a way to just use natural light from a nearby window.
The room is really small!
Find a different room that gives you depth—it’ll be worth it, for both audio and video.
4. Conducting A Great Interview
- Research your topic and interviewee ahead of time
- Prepare questions and share with client in advance so they can be prepared (not the night before)
- Chat while setting up to help them get comfortable
- Be warm and personable, don’t share if you’re nervous
- Explain how to set up answers independently so when the interviewer is cut out of the video, the answers will make sense on their own. Suggest repeating your set up or question at the beginning of each answer
- There is no messing up - likely you'll clip any video into short segments and make your SME sound brilliant, so they can start over, or clarify. There really is no messing up!
- Start with easy questions
- Let them wander and go off track - there can be great content here
- Pause, reflect, go back, repeat
- Listen, really listen - and ask smart follow up questions. Go off script if something great comes up
- Mirror body language - use your body language to "fix" theirs. If they are slouching, sit up straight. If they need to smile, just smile at them
- BE CURIOUS
Even after you've done everything above, you can come away with bad (or ineffective) content when you do these things:
- Not allowing enough time.
Schedule interviews for longer than you think you'll need in case you have a technical problem, they're late, etc. Also some people take a while to warm up and you'll have to circle back to questions they answered nervously in the beginning. Also allow 15 minutes between each interview to make sure that you have some buffer time if you need it.
- Not asking for what you need.
Sometimes people don't really answer your question, or they talk around it. Don't move on. Go back and get what you need. Ask again, point out that you need an answer, or feed them with what you're looking for. Most likely they're nervous and will appreciate the ability to help you get better content.
If you're not listening and asking thoughtful questions, you're missing probably the best content you can collect. Going off script is almost always where the real meat is.
Not having a conversation.
This is in line with the above, but have a real conversation. You'll put your subject at ease, you'll listen for those good nuggets to ask follow up questions about, and you'll help your interviewee look and sound brilliant!
Maximize/Spend Your Resources
Once you've collected such rich resource, you'll want to use it everywhere.
- Send audio for transcription (with timestamping for video production)
- Share transcripts with clients so they can use them in their content
- Upload to Delve and catalog so it's easy for content creators to find quotes and resource by topic and keyword
- Use everywhere:
- Premium content (white papers, ebooks, quizzes, etc.)
- Blog post (copy, video, image)
- Video (blog, website, digital media)
- Email (nurture/automated workflows, miscellaneous)
- Pillar pages
- More ...
- Create steps/checklist in your project management system to force people to refer back to the content
Here are some tools that we have found helpful for pulling off all of the above.
- Use a tool like Zoom if you must conduct your interview remotely and record audio and video - down and dirty still works!
- For transcription use a service like Rev.com
- Organize in Google Drive or another cloud based application that allows you to share/send links
- Upload and organize your content into Delve or another system for cataloguing content by keyword and topic.
- Use a resource like Airtable to organize your content strategy and editorial planning - read Ash's great post on How To Use Airtable To Manage Your Editorial Calendar
- Audio & Video Equipment - Shea wrote a comprehensive post on this that will help you get started with any audio/video set up: How Much Does Video Equipment Cost? A Lot. A Little. And Somewhere In Between.