Entrepreneur’s 3-Step Guide To Profitable Research Interviews

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Photo by Keren Levand on Unsplash.

What motivates your target market? Where are they coming from? What points do you need to emphasize when you write the copy?

One of the best ways to get inside the mind of your ideal client is to interview prospective and past clients.

Interviewing is more than firing off questions at a prospect.

Everything from the way you set up the interview, to the questions you ask will affect the usefulness of your results.

I talk to a lot of business owners who get nervous at the whole idea of interviewing. They know research interviews are important, especially for entering new markets and writing case studies. But they aren’t sure where to start.

Let’s imagine that you are a career coach, focusing on mid-life professionals looking for a new job after they’ve been laid off. You want to create a lead magnet and perhaps a course for this segment of your audience. Now it’s time to do the research.

You’ll need to convince prospects that they’ll benefit from being interviewed. Avoid offering large bribes such as free 30 days of coaching. People who are motivated by “free stuff” will be different from those who will pay.

Keep the interviews short. Aim for 30 minutes, max. The quality of responses tends to diminish when interviewees get tired. And frankly, they tire easily.

So now you’ve got someone on the phone. What do you ask them?

The *worst* question you can ask begins with “Why.” Most people have no idea why they did something; there’s plenty of research to show we’re often motivated by environmental forces we don’t even notice.

The BEST question you can ask is one that encourages your interviewee to come up with a story:

“What’s a typical day like in your current job? Where are the trouble spots? What, if anything, is enjoyable?”

“What would an ideal job look like? Give one example of a perfect day.”

There are two ways an interview can get derailed.

First, your interviewee starts giving advice.

You ask, “What was your most challenging experience during your job search?”

She answers, “Well, if I were going to advise someone who’s changing jobs…”

What you’re looking for are stories like this:

“The worst part of my job search came when I drove all the way across town to the interview. They didn’t expect me. They said I had the wrong day. I had their email: I was right. But there was nothing I could do about it.”

You follow up with questions like, “What were your next steps? What actions did you take?”

You’re looking for experience and emotions. You want their perspective, from the inside out.

Second, you may get one of those interviewees who can’t stay focused. They’ll be right in the middle of a story, when they’ll say, “That reminds me…” And now you’re off on a long tangent.

Don’t be afraid to interrupt (politely) when the interview goes off track. You have limited time. When you let someone go off on a tangent, you’ll go way beyond the allotted time to get the information you need — and that’s much more annoying than a quick, friendly reminder to stay on track.

Interviews can be extremely valuable assets to your business, so it’s important to take advantage of every minute prospects spend with you.

Their time is limited: often they have to leave for a meeting or phone call. They get tired.

And your time becomes valuable as well. A 30-minute interview can take over 90 minutes, with setting up the meeting, reviewing your notes and thanking your interviewee.

Learn more about writing a case study with interviews with this free report, 7 steps to a case study that generates leads.

And discover what *really* motivates your clients when you click on this free report. You’ll learn how understanding the client’s backstory helps you write copy that enters the conversation in your client’s mind.

Originally published at https://cathygoodwin.com.

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time. http://cathygoodwin.com

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