Alongside an in-depth content analysis and a study of competitors’ messaging and content, we always start our content strategy process with a series of stakeholder interviews.
Who those “stakeholders” are varies depending on the client and project. They almost always include the senior leader of the company, but ideally they also include directors of sales and even front-line salespeople, directors of customer service, directors of operations — anyone who is involved in the customer experience. If we’re really lucky, we get to talk to a few customers themselves.
The nature of those interviews always changes from project to project — but essentially, we’re always looking for the same kinds of information. We want to understand the brand and business goals of the company or organization, as well as how their customers find them, engage with them, decide to buy with them, and use or experience their offering.
Every one of these interviews is a little different, depending on the role and perspective of the interviewee. But in a series of content strategy interviews for a project, here are the 15 most important questions to which we try to get answers from our stakeholders.
Branding and Marketing
1. Can you describe your marketing program over the past year, and what you’re planning for the upcoming year? How do you see web and electronic marketing fitting in to your overall marketing picture?
2. What do you want consumers to leave thinking about the company and its products, and what do you want them to leave feeling?
3. How much are you focused on building brand awareness in your marketing vs. product marketing and direct sales support?
4. What are your major marketing opportunities in the next 1-5 years?
5. Who is the primary user of your products?
6. What kinds of information do customers typically need to make their decisions about buying? What factors do they compare and weigh when deciding between yours and a competitor’s product?
7. What objections might a consumer have about your product? How do you address these objections?
8. What does the sales process look like? Can you describe the whole cycle: how a lead comes in, what happens after that, what the lead nurturing and pre-sales process looks like, and what happens next when a customer decides to buy?
9. What are your 3 biggest sales challenges? Will these stay consistent in the short-term future or do you see new challenges emerging in the next 2-5 years?
10. Why do customers choose your products over a competitor’s?
11. Where are your products weaker or more limited than your competitors’?
12. Which competitors most often win over your products in the market?
13. What are your competitors’ major strengths and weaknesses? How do you take advantage of their weaknesses?
14. How do you see your market changing in the next 3-5 years?
15. If you do it right, what does success look like to you over the next five years?
Ready to interview? Be sure to download our comprehensive guide to choreographing successful discovery interviews: