Aug 04, 2021

Creating Great Marketing Content, with Polly Yakovich

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Polly Yakovich is Co-founder and CMO at A Brave New, a Seattle digital marketing agency focused on helping businesses accelerate their growth through inbound marketing, branding, and web design. She specializes in working with clients to identify barriers to their growth and overcoming them with strategic content and marketing tactics. She has more than fifteen years of experience in digital marketing and branding.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why the process of collecting and creating great content needs to be done with intentionality and should focus on content with the right attributes
  • How the unique challenges of the global pandemic have changed the way we collect content
  • Why batching your work can be a powerful way to ensure that you're able to meet with people and collect the resources you need, and other best practices to follow
  • Tips and strategies for conducting a great, effective interview, and why planning is the key to a rich, detailed interview
  • Why interviewing a Subject Matter Expert (SME) requires a different level of research and preparation, and how to create great interview questions
  • Why sending your interviewee a pre-interview email with the questions you'll be asking is important for helping them give you the golden nuggets you're looking for
  • What tips and tricks you can utilize during the actual interview process to ensure a successful and worthwhile interview with the right follow-up questions


Blog posts from A Brave New to help you create great content and conduct awesome interviews:

Additional resources:  

Show Transcription:

Intro: Welcome to A Brave New Podcast, the podcast all about how brave entrepreneurial companies are unlocking their business potential using inbound marketing. Here is your marketing expert and host, Polly Yakovich.

Polly Yakovich: Hi, and welcome back to A Brave New Podcast. Today I want to dive into a tactical topic around content and resource collection, with a little bit of a side dose of how to really conduct a great interview. And so, for most of us I think you might be thinking, "You know, this is a basic skill, I don't know if I need a refresher." But I've really found for myself, and others, that this is really a topic you can never get too much info around. And collecting great content is such a vital skill for any marketer. So, whether you're an experienced marketer, whether you work internally within a client, or at an agency, this might be a nice refresh for you today. Maybe you're missing a few components that might move this process from good to great, maybe some of us have become a little jaded and think that we can just wing it because we've been doing this so long. 

Spoiler alert, you can't really wing it. Really thinking about collecting great content is the foundation for anything that you're going to produce. And so, we really have to think through how we're being intentional about the process, and not let the process itself get stale, because when the process gets stale, your content gets stale as well. And then another thing we're really going to have to grapple with, and I don't have all the answers, but just really recognizing that this hybrid, post-pandemic, pandemic life, where maybe it was okay for a period of time over the last year for your brand to use Zoom interviews in people's homes, or cell phone videos, or other things that we've adapted to, what does that look like now? What does that look like when we are maybe kind of coming back to the office, but not everyone, and not always? And how good do things have to look? And what's acceptable? 

And I don't have all the answers here, but I think we're all going to be tackling this as we move forward. I will say that I think as we return, there's going to be probably a nice balance, sort of like ... We're hopeful that there will be a nice balance with hybrid workspaces, where maybe you're sometimes at home, and you're occasionally as a group, whether that's a week a month, or a couple days a week back in the office together. I think that there's going to be a nice hybrid content focus, where we realize that some content doesn't have to be so high-end and produced, and you get just as much effective information across with a Zoom interview, or a casual cell phone video collection, kind of process. 

And then there's still going to be the time and place where that just doesn't look right anymore. So, as we get into this new world, I really wanted to give us a little bit of a refresh. And I'm going to start with the content side, because I think that, in the best possible way, great content needs to be three things. It needs to be competitive, it should differentiate you amongst your competitors, and it should give people a reason to choose you or your product. Great content also needs to be valuable, it needs to help people learn to trust you because you've given them something that answers our questions. Or maybe it's practical and useful, or gives them enough information to want to learn more about you. 

And then this third one is really important, particular for those of us who are talking about B2B content, because B2B content, I think for those of us who produce it regularly, the temptation is to be like, "Well, our audience is already motivated, and they have to research this stuff because it's their job. So, we're just going to be really informational, and we don't really need to stand out." But great content needs to stand out, regardless of whether you're doing a Coke commercial, or you're advertising a B2B service, you need to stand out. People have a lot of things that are pulling on their time and attention, so your content does ... It really kind of has to have that magical quality to some extent. Maybe not everything, but this is what great content is made of. 

And so, I think for those of us particularly coming off the last year, we've always had challenges with collecting resource. Or great content, whatever that looks like. Whether it's an interview, whether that's getting materials from your client, whether that client is internal or external. There's always been challenges with access. And some of these things have been made easier by the pandemic, and some of these things have been exacerbated. And some of our challenges are going to come back again. For a while it was really easy to get ahold of people because no one was traveling, and everyone was home. And yes, probably they were in a meeting, but it was much easier to schedule folks, and that's going to become more complicated again. And so, some of the challenges with collecting resource is always the client themselves. 

Whether your client's internal or external, things always come up. And that's just the nature of business, but interviews get pushed, or they sent you half the material you asked for and not the other. Or different departments are running the project that you can't get back from another. And so, that's one challenge that needs to be worked around. The other is time. Resource collection, and particularly when I talk through some of my tips and tricks for a great interview, it takes time. And so, regardless, again, whether you're internal or external, a big part of the way that you think about the project should be how do I dedicate the time and energy needed to get what I need to make what I need to produce successful. 

And I think we often think with any sort of content creation or project, that the producing of the thing is going to be the thing that takes the most time and energy. But we really have to properly give time to collecting what we need. And if you do that, it won't take so much time in production because you'll have great resource, and creating great content out of great resource is so much easier than trying to produce something from nothing. Access, again, this has become less of an issue with the pandemic because people were more available. And in fact, you could get access to higher level people more easily because they weren't traveling, so this is going to continue to be an issue as people get booked for speaking events, and conferences come back, and what have you, is really just getting access to the people that you need. 

And then I think another problem with collecting great resource is just a lack of results. Sometimes you really want to make a claim but the data doesn't back it up. Or your product hasn't been in the market too long, or you don't have enough client testimonials, et cetera. And so, sometimes being creative around results is the way to go. And you might have to think differently about this. As much as I am a little bit ... I like to hedge my bets on some of the surveys that come around, because I often think that what people say they'll do, and what they actually do, are different. But with that caveat I would say collecting great data may be as simple for you as putting a SurveyMonkey out, and paying for some responses that can back up the claims that you want to make. 

Or pulling a couple great quotes rather than having maybe all of the data that you are hoping for. Or knowing you want to measure something and making sure it's set up. So, in your followup piece you can really talk about the results. And so, collecting great resource is a challenge. And I'm just giving a little high level reminder, because I think most people know how important it is. But with the challenges that we've talked about, sometimes we have found some great workarounds for collecting resource that are really helpful. And so, this hasn't been the case so much during the pandemic, but I do think oftentimes we really want people to fit into our schedules when we're collecting resource. And again, whether you're internal, or whether you're working for a client, I really find that you need to go to the people that you want to get access to. 

And as Zoom interviews become less, or people are in the office, it's really important, I think, to get on people's calendars with a time that you're coming to them. One of the big challenges about collecting resources, if people don't find it valuable enough, or understand the value, or the impact, or where they are in the schedule, they're inclined to push you off. Or reschedule. And I'm going to talk about some workarounds for that as well. But if you go to them, particularly if you do a couple of the other things I'm going to talk about with batching, going to clients, setting up a video shoot, et cetera, it's really easy to reschedule a video, or a phone interview. But it's harder if you are going to a place, you have people scheduled back-to-back, you're bringing even a light filming crew, that kind of a thing.

And so, I really like to set the environment so that I can get what I need in the timeframe I need it, and it's not easy for people to push me off. The other thing, too, that I really want to encourage you to do, is to batch collect resource. So, I'm sure that you have heard in so many productivity kind of trainings, or recommendations, about batching work. And batching work, I think is sort of the nemesis of any marketer because you always want to do it, and then things really push that off, or make that complicated sometimes. And this I whether you want to set a day aside to write blog posts, and just do them in a batch, et cetera, et cetera, it just feels like something always comes up to mess the batching process up. But I would say one of the most effective places I've found for batching work is in resource collection, because it is hard to get people scheduled, or part of their day, as we're returning to work. 

I think that this might be a good solution is to set aside that day, or half a day, at the client when people are going to be in the office. Maybe we're coordinating this now because of hybrid situations. But to go to them in a batch, and have a day set aside for that content collection so that if you're producing a quarter's worth of material, you can go a month or two before that quarter. You can prepare everything you need, collect everything you need, have everyone scheduled in their interview time. You can collect it all at once, and then you have time to sift through and say, "Oh, so and so mentioned this, and we'd like to collect that as well." Or, "We need some followup data about this." I think preparing and planning that far in advance can be challenging, but if you really work back from what you need you'll find that that entire quarter that you need to produce that content is going to be made so much easier, by having this library of stuff all at once that you can spend from. 

And that's also one of the great benefits of batch collecting, is if you go and do these times, whether it's twice a year, four times a year, whether ... Again, whether you're internal, whether you're going to a client, I really recommend collecting things like this, because then you'll have quotes to spend, your information will look a lot more rich because you'll be able to quote so-and-so from another piece, in your current piece, where someone else is an SME. You'll be able to spend all that resource across, and make it look really vibrant and rich. I think one of the traps we fall into as content creators, is we need to write a white paper, so we interview the SME's for that white paper, and then we write it. 

And without this library, the project gets stuck. If one of the SME's reschedules a bunch, or maybe you thought you only needed to talk to two people but this third person's really important, and valuable, or you needed this other research. When you're in a silo creating mentality, doing one thing at a time, you really get stuck easier, and you lack the richness from having people, and having lots of resource that you can spend out of your library. So, I really, really encourage you to batch collect. In fact, I would say, from sort of an agency perspective, this was a great unlocking thing for us as we were really on this treadmill of scheduling SME's, and going out on one-offs, and all of that. 

The other thing about the batch collecting that I want to get to next is, batch collecting gives you a great opportunity to get everything. So, it's very tempting to say, "I need to talk to an SME for this white paper, but I'm not going to use video really, or it's not a video piece, so then I can just schedule a phone interview, and transcribe it, and use their content." Well, as we know content is consumed in so many different ways. And if you only collect your content in one medium, then you'll only be able to spend it in, say, copy. And not everyone's comfortable on video, but I think that that has become less and less of an issue. And so, what we want to do when possible is we want to collect everything, in every format that we can. So, if you're going to a resource collection day, and you're doing it in a batch, you can bring ...

It doesn't have to be incredibly fancy, but you can bring video equipment, you can collect that by video. No matter what anyone says, your video resource collection is going to look a lot more professional and effective than Zoom just based on you being able to control the variables of sound, and light, and how things look, and whose kids are running around in the background, et cetera. And so, when you do that you can collect video, you have that if you want to spend it. If someone had a really great quote and you wanted to put it in a ad, you can do that, you have it, even if it's not needed for the white paper. And that's really when you can build your library. You can get photos, you can get stills, you can have the recording of the words that are transcribed so you have the copy. 

You really just want to capture everything so that you have it just in case. I would say also, if you're working on behalf of a client, again, whether that's internal or external, having that library and knowing that you have people on video, and you can pull them from something else, or you could spend it in other ways, or you could put together a compilation video, there's just really great resources to have. So, I really encourage people not to put themselves into a box with how they are going to be collecting that resource. So, I think I've made the case for why you need great resource, how important the resource collection process is. A little reminder for those of us who are pretty experienced, hopefully there's a nugget or two in there that you haven't thought about before. 

How important it is to batch collect. We have some really great resources and blog posts that I'll link to in the show notes about what different kind of video setups might look like, how to go from like 2,000 to 10,000 and above, depending on where you're at. I also have a couple blog posts that outline the process that we have just talked through together. And then really, I want to talk a little bit about how to conduct a great interview, because I think for most of us we've been doing this so long that we kind of think we can just step into an interview, ask the questions, and get the great resource we need. But we've really found that no matter how experienced you are, being super prepared for your interview can make your resource collection process so much richer. 

So, I really want to talk about how we want to approach that interview. Once you've gotten everything scheduled, you're going to do your batch collection, what's a great way to be ready for an interview that brings out the insights you really need? Anyone with experience can wing an interview, but the kind of interview that is going to produce extremely rich, detailed content, needs a lot of preparation, no matter how experienced you are, because nobody thinks perfectly on their feet. And you need to go through these steps in order to ask that followup question that you don't think about if you're winging it. Or have read the information upfront and know where to really press in to bring out that kind of content that we talked about before, that's competitive, that stands out, that's going to add that little magical extra piece. 

And so, these are the things I think about as I'm approaching an interview. What's the background information, first of all? It depends on what kind of interview you're collecting. So, if this is for a persona, if you're doing persona work, again, all of the things I'm going to say apply to internal and teams that are working on behalf of a client. But if it's for a customer persona, one of the jobs of a persona is to question the assumptions of what the client, or your own company, thinks about your customers or your prospects. And so, it's really important to get that background information, because if you don't understand what the assumptions are, it's going to be challenging for you to draw out the contrast from speaking to that prospect themself. And so, particularly for persona interviews, I really like to ask the client, whomever the client is, what their background information is about each person we're interviewing. What's their perspective? What do they think they want, what do they think they need, what do they think they're looking for? 

Background information for an SME interview, subject matter expert if you're unfamiliar with the acronym, is different. So, I would say if I'm interviewing an SME about a topic, I also want to do my research. Have they given any webinars? Have they talked about this topic? Have they written other things about it? Particularly, whether it's internal or external, one of the things that you're always trying to do, not to be overly political or manipulative, you're looking to show them what marketing can do for them, and you're also looking to maximize their time. If this is an SME that you might want to talk to again, or is particularly knowledgeable, they will be, to be kind, annoyed with you, if you ask them things that you could easily have found for yourself. 

If you get into an interview, and they're like, "Oh yeah, you asked me this before," or, "I just read a blog post about this," or, "Well, I just gave a webinar, you can just watch that," those are the worst kinds of interview stopping questions, because they make you feel bad as an interviewer, and then they also just sort of really highlight you haven't done your research. So, don't make this extensive. I don't want the impression you get to be like I have to spend three hours before I interview anyone. I mean, in some cases maybe you do, but you should glance around for what they've written, what they've already said. Don't ask them the same question again. In fact, if you feel like you need to ask the same question again, you can say, "This was your perspective when you wrote this. Is this still the case? Or would you add anything to it?" Look for those nuances. Do get the background information. 

And then do your research. Is it a topical interview? What's recently been written about the topic? One of the things when you know that you're looking for differentiated content that stands out, is you know you want to make a name for yourself, particularly if you're talking about B2B kinds of high level, high educational level products or services. So, if you're going to produce a blog post that's exactly like every other blog post that's ever been written about AI, why isn't anyone going to read that? And so, you do want to do your research to say, "Okay, what's recently been written about that? Is there a unique angle I can take on this? Is there anything controversial about this? Is there something that I can highlight to the person I'm interviewing where they can compare and contrast?" 

And so, look around and see what's recently been written about that, look to see where can you add a perspective? What's a new angle? How can you do that? And then from there, after you've done your research, write your interview questions. So, sometimes the person who's doing the research, and the collection, and the interview questions, and all of that, isn't the person who will be conducting the interview. But whoever's writing the interview questions needs to be the person whose done those first two steps. And I would say write interview questions, and then send them around for someone else to review them. Typically, I would say if you're internal, whoever the stakeholder is should be looking at the interview questions. Whoever is going to be looking at your content at the end of the day, and saying, "Yes, that hits the mark," or, "No, it doesn't really quite get what we were hoping to communicate." 

If you're working on behalf of a client, you need to send them to your client, because again, they're going to be the one reading your white paper at the end of the day and saying, "Oh, you didn't really capture the angle I was hoping for." And so, you need to make sure they look at your questions, and say, "Yes." If you can get all these questions answered, you will have exactly what you need to hit the goal of whatever piece it is you're producing. And then, after you write your interview questions, I used to really not suggest that you send them to the interviewee, and the reason for that is particularly in a brand interview, or a persona interview, I felt that all the information they could say off the top of their head, off the cuff, and I wanted those sort of top-of-mind answers. 

But I really changed my mind on this, because primarily they make people feel much more comfortable. And if you send them to them ahead of time, you're so much less likely to have them say, "Oh, I didn't get a chance to review the questions," or, "Did you send me questions? I'm going to have to reschedule. I don't feel ready." You really want people to feel ready, and comfortable. And so, I really suggest sending people the questions up front. In a content interview, I think it's crucial to send the questions up front, because no matter how much of an expert your SME is, people really need time to prepare. And if you've done a good job with your questions, and in fact, if one of your questions is something like, "In a recent Forbes article, they said X, Y, Z about AI. Would you agree or disagree with that?" They'll need some time to do a little research or formulate a thought. 

If you're going to really get insights, if you're really going to get a unique perspective they need to prepare as well. And people are busy, and not everyone speaks well off the top of their head. There's so many interviews I've been in, even with people who have been prepared, and they're experts, and you know that they know it, but if they're on camera, or if they're this or that, they may just have a brain blip, they may have a moment where they forget. They may have a moment where they feel nervous. And so, you really want to make sure they're as prepared as possible, so that you can help set them up for success. At the end of the day, this is going to be a piece, either they're going to be quoted or it's going to be authored by them, so you're really there to help them feel successful communicating their ideas as possible. 

And then, after that I really suggest a pre-interview followup. And so, whether this is a simple email, you need to make sure that you've reminded your SME, or the person that you're going to interview for whatever purpose, to review the questions. Because again, you're trying to make sure that they don't reschedule and push your project off track, you want to make sure they're prepared, you want to get to the top of their email box if they haven't had a chance, and just remind them. The other thing I would say, and this is crucial if you're interviewing, that you haven't done the pre-work, is to make sure that you have time blocked on your calendar to read through the day before. And I know some people listening are like, "Wow, she's really over-blowing it on trying to gather a resource. That's not this complicated." 

I really would challenge you to try this, and see how much better the content you produce is. If you read through the day before, if you read through the background information, you glance through the articles they've read, you remind yourself about why you asked the question in that way, you're always going to come up with a little bit of something else. You're not going to be so busy trying to catch up to the conversation, and remember the topic, you're going to be able to ask the extra question. You're going to be prepared for deeper followup, you're going to be able to get to the juicy stuff that really makes great content great. You're going to get that sound bite that's going to create a really great ad. You're going to get that quote that's going to be the pull quote that you're going to be able to use at the top of your piece, what have you. 

And so, I really recommend reading through the day before, and I also recommend blocking your calendar for the 15, 20 minutes after your interview. And so, this is all pre-work still, this is all prep, but block that calendar for the 15 minutes after your interview so that you can jot down notes, you can see if there's any followup, you can do all of the after things you need to do, and you have time to do that before rushing off to your next thing, so that you have time to capture your thinking, because guaranteed in the interview something will come up, or you'll think, "Oh, I should look that up," or, "I should get that quote, or that stat." And so, make sure you have time to capture all of that in real time. 

This all sounds like a lot of work, and you haven't even gotten to the interview yet. But if you do this pre-work, and it doesn't necessarily have to take a ton of time as long as you're thoughtful about it, you will really realize much better, you will collect much better resource, and then it will be much easier to produce great resource. And so, one of the things I think, for most people, you know if you're going to interview someone you have to schedule them, you have to get on their calendar. So, get that interview scheduled and then do the work back. Do your research, do the work back, get the questions, give everyone time to prepare, et cetera. A couple considerations before you actually start interviewing is do I need this interview for content creation? Am I going to be producing an internal document? Am I going to be creating personas? Am I going to be writing a white paper? 

And so, again, all of the things I talked about before, with batch collecting, are true here. Are you going to them? Are you videoing? I think whenever possible always capture content by video, always record it, always transcript it. Whether that's Zoom or in person. So, just think about what you need. If you still aren't in Zoomland, and people are interviewing from home, you really need to think through what's their setup like? Do they feel comfortable? Are they going to look good? Am I setting them up for success? Do they sound good? Can we test through those things? Do I need to send them a very simple webcam? We have some of these resources, if you check out the blog post and the show notes I'll link you to some of these resources. A really light lift on sending someone a webcam, or ring light combo, maybe even a microphone, could really be the different between a great and unusable Zoom video capture, especially if you're going to be interviewing that person more than once, or it's for a major E-book, et cetera. 

Think through how much time you have. There's nothing worse than having 30 questions to go through in 20 minutes, and just knowing you're set up for failure from the beginning. So, make sure you're asking the right number of questions for the time you have. And another thing about prepping is that you'll be able to look through and say, "I must get these five questions answered, and then if I have time I can fill in with these other ones." But if I'm running out of time, I know what I could skip. And then, also just think ahead if you need any supporting material. If you're still waiting on a report, or a white paper, or something they wrote, or data, if you haven't gotten it yet you can ask for that on the interview. 

There's nothing like capturing people's attention while you have it. And so, I'm just, with time and experience, I'm unashamed at saying, "Oh, by the way, while we're here together, can you just pull that thing up that you promised you sent to me 10 times but you didn't actually send? And just email it over to me right now so I don't have to bother you again?" I mean, you can be cheeky about it, you can be fun, but that's something that is worth thinking of in advance, because no matter how experienced you are you're just going to forget things in the moment. Particularly when you're engrossed in the conversation, which is really your main job. 

So, I want to get to conducting the interview. So, these are my top tips and tricks for conducting a really great interview. And everyone has their own way of doing it, so hopefully if you can take away just a nugget from this, that will be helpful for you in your work. I find at the beginning it's so important to set the tone, because whether you're in person, or on Zoom, you really want to make the other person feel comfortable, and ready, and prepared, they look good, and the lighting looks great, and their hair isn't got a weird kink in it, et cetera. So, I take an extra minute or two to introduce myself. Be curious, be friendly, be chatty, help them relax. They're going to be more honest and less canned if you can help them feel comfortable. Then I lay out expectations for the interview. 

I always like to confirm that they know why they're there, what success looks like. "We're going to write a blog post authored by you." Or, "This is going to go into an E-book, and we're interviewing these four SME's, including you." Or, "This is a video, and this is how we're going to use it." So, they're just, hopefully with all your pre-prep, they're very familiar, but just to confirm that with them in a really human way, so that they know what they're helping produce, will help them give you more of what you need. I always ask them if they've read the questions, often even if you've followed up with them maybe they haven't responded. So, I sometimes say, "Are there any questions that you're confused about? Do you want to look at them briefly?" If you're there in person, videoing them, that's a great time to have them printed out if they don't. Is there anything that I should amend if you haven't had that conversation up front, et cetera. 

I also check the time. And so, obviously, for some of us, we like to book more time than we think we'll need, partially so we can have this pre-chat. If I'm in person with a video interview, I always try and book them an hour. Sometimes we book Zoom interviews for a half hour, but I really check the time. And I say to them, "Do you have a hard stop at ..." Whatever the time the interview is supposed to end, because if they do have a hard stop I might need to go to my go-to five questions, and then see what else I can get in as a bonus. If they have an extra couple minutes, or they're not in a hurry, then it might be that if the conversation runs long I can let it run long without cutting them off. One thing to keep in mind, and this is true for you as you create the interview questions, that as you're doing the interview is to try and keep your questions open-ended. 

It's so funny, but kind of horrible to be in conversations with people when you ask them a question, and they're just like, "No." So, I try to keep them open-ended so that they can tap into how they think about the topic, and they can explain it in their own words. Another thing I do, if I'm videoing, and I almost always am, so whether I'm in person or on Zoom, is I coach them from the beginning. And this is to avoid the no answer. But if I'm asking something that's kind of a no-brainer, I always tell them to repeat what I'm asking, and then answer it, so that when we cut me, or whoever's doing the interviewing out of the interview, they're standing alone with a full sentence. And so, that's something helpful, and if you really need a sound bite it's important to stop and have them repeat it so that you can get that full capture on camera. 

The other thing that's really important, and depending on who you're interviewing, everyone gets nervous sometimes, even the most seasoned people. And so, I have seen some people just run through the questions. And this is why all this prep is so important. The prep is important so that you can ask really smart followup questions, because the followup questions are where the good stuff is. That's where the insights are, that's where assumptions are challenged. If you're not familiar with the material, if you're daunted by the topic or your SME, if they're really technical and you're not, you might not ask the followup question you need to. And that's where all the good information really lies. The other thing too, is this is another place where you need to make sure that you are not thinking about yourself, in the nicest possible way. 

You can't be thinking, "Oh, they're going to think I'm dumb if I ask this question of them." If you're thinking of the question, then likely somebody else reading, or engaging with the material will think about the question. And it's true that sometimes you're producing technical content for technical people, but it's never going to be bad to have that followup question on the record. Even if it's for the education of your team. And so, my rule of thumb is you really need to leave your ego behind, and you really need to just be curious and ask all the questions that come to your mind. In fact, I would say for the most part, don't edit any question that pops into your head. If you're interviewing someone, don't interrupt them. Make sure you can jot it down. But if you're listening to somebody, and a question comes to your mind, you should ask it, every time. 

Because anything that you need clarifying, or, "Remind me what that is," is something that somebody else might be thinking about. And this ties into my next point, which is above all be curious. Be very curious. Listen extremely well. Listen to understand. Listen to really get into their mindset. Listen to really put their expertise on show. Be so curious about what they're talking about, how they think, how they came to that conclusion, what they think about something else in the field that you've prepared with your research, be very curious, because that is really where all the insight is going to come from. And that's where all the special stuff that isn't in the questions, but that makes really rich engaging content is going to come out of, this curiosity, these followups. So, I really can't emphasize that enough. 

And in fact, if all I've talked about, if all I left you with is to just tap into your curiosity, and to leave your ego at the door, and really let someone else's expertise shine, that's the best thing you can do for a really great interview. And then, in closing, I always ask all my interviewees at the end what they think I missed, because they're closer to the topic, and whether that's in the pre-interview questions, or even as they're going through, I just always make sure to ask that at the end. What did I miss? What's a nuance I didn't follow up on? What's something that everyone should know, but feels obvious to you, so obvious we didn't even talk about it? Your SME will intuitively know if you've missed an important point. And then as they're actually going through the process of talking through it with you, they'll know. "Oh, on this topic this is something that I always make sure to include. It just didn't occur to me when I was reading through the questions." 

And then at the end, just be human. Thank them for their time, thank them for their effort, let them know what the followups will be. If they're going to be reviewing their own content, and you're ghostwriting it, or it's a video, let them know when they will be able to review it, and when you'll be in touch. Those are all really important. And then, I think if you're someone like me, I'm not going to talk about content creation, and where everything goes from here because this has already been long. But I think you can see, if you put that much thought into collecting great resource, getting a great interview, getting the most out of it, you can see how much easier the content creation process will be from that, and how much richer, and how much you will be able to answer prospects' questions in a different way. Put your product forward in a different way. Use things across a variety of promotional material, et cetera. 

So, creating the content is a topic for another day. I do want to say that for those of us who have been doing this a long time, I would say I'm a collector of things, collecting things is something I love. But I think most people who interview regularly are collectors of great questions, or insightful questions, or looking at the questions that other people ask so they can add one or two to their repertoire. So, I'm also going to link you to a blog post that has a lot of questions that you can use. I'd love for you to add to them, too. I'd love to hear what your questions are. But have some persona questions, internal kinds of auditing questions, brand questions, SME questions, et cetera. 

So, of course there's always followup after the interview, whether you're passing a transcript off, whether you're sending it to the copywriter, whether you're the copywriter, now you'll be ready to create great authoritative content. Content that's differentiated, content that's competitive, content that's rich, content that stands out. Let me know what you think. 

Outro: Thanks for listening to this episode of A Brave New Podcast. Go to for more resources and advice. If you enjoyed this episode, show us some love by subscribing, rating, and reviewing A Brave New Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts. 


Polly Yakovich

Polly Yakovich



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