5 Steps to Take BEFORE Doing an Interview

Interviewing an expert can be one of the most time-consuming and potentially frustrating parts of writing copy. But if done correctly, it can be the most important thing you do to create a successful sales piece.

The person you’re interviewing has knowledge you may not be able to get anywhere else. But, especially in the healthcare and investing fields, experts you’re interviewing speak "a different language" that you’ll need to understand and then translate into layman’s terms for your sale.

Properly worded questions can help you uncover differences between the product you’re selling and your competitors’ product. A well-conducted interview will also give you an outsider’s perspective on your product. With the right preparation, you can uncover all the information quickly.

So, knowing how important the interview is – and that you only get to do it once – here are 5 steps you can take to prepare.

  1. KNOW YOUR TOPIC AND YOUR PURPOSE FOR WRITING THIS MARKETING PIECE.

    Whether you’re writing a sales letter, a new website, or a feature article for a newsletter, you need to clearly define your objectives. Is your goal to prospect for new clients? Is it to sell your product? Is it to inform and educate readers of your newsletter?

  2. SCHEDULE THE INTERVIEW RIGHT AWAY.

    The person you’re interviewing is busy. So you can’t expect him to drop everything on the spur of the moment to talk to you for 30 minutes.

    Call to set up an appointment as soon as you know you’re going to need to speak with him. Set up the interview at his earliest convenience. This shows you are respectful of his time and gives both of you time to prepare.

  3. FIND OUT WHERE YOU CAN GO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR TOPIC.

    This is a question you should ask when you are first hired for the assignment. Whether you will be gathering materials that have already been published or researching information online on a complicated subject, you need to start thinking about this immediately.

    The more complicated the subject or procedure, the more difficult it may be to find information. But that may be one reason you are writing this piece – because there is a need to disseminate the information to the public.

  4. KNOW WHERE THE MARKETING PIECE IS GOING.

    If it’s going in a magazine or newspaper, check out the publication. What are other articles in that publication like? Who advertises in it? What concerns these readers? How can you grab their attention? Also, take notes on the tone and voice of the publication. What grade level is it written to?

    If this is a sales letter or website, who are your prospects? What are their interests? What are their buying habits? Learn as much as you can about your prospects and how they will be introduced to your piece.

  5. PREPARE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AHEAD OF TIME.

    Preparing 10 or so questions ahead of time forces you to plan ahead so you can ask intelligent, specific questions. Send the questions to the interviewee ahead of time so he can prepare his answers. It shows him you’ve done your homework and are trying to not waste his time. This earns respect and can make for a much more productive – and ultimately profitable – interview.

[Ed. Note: The author of "Healthcare Copywriting Secrets Revealed" and "The Healthcare Copywriters Toolkit," Kelly Robbins is a copywriter and marketing coach/consultant. To subscribe to her free e-zine "The Healthcare Marketing Connection," or to receive her free report, "5 Critical Things You Must Know When Writing for the Healthcare Industry," contact her at Kelly@KellyRobbinsLLC.com or 303-460-0285.]

© Kelly Robbins LLC, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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Published: November 21, 2005

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