All good content stems from good conversation. At Verbatim, we’ve seen this ethos proven true time and time again — across editorial pieces, blog posts, social strategies, and more.
To dive into this idea, we sat down with Vicky Phan, our own Head of Content, who takes us through the end-to-end workflow of translating interviews into top-tier pillar content. She covers:
- Three key questions to ask before putting pen to paper
- Why casual conversations make for the best content
- A tactical how-to for turning dialogue into editorial
Why Casual Convos Lead to the Best Content
As mentioned, all great content has to start with great conversation, meaning your interview flows — the source of all of your material — need to be locked in.
Even before then, start by considering the actual participants in your interview.
- The interviewer — Your interviewer should be experienced (or open to a lot of practice) in asking the right follow-ups while naturally, casually guiding the conversation.
- The interviewee — “Good material” can be defined as the info your users need to know. Interview the experts (i.e., operators, founders, investors) who can speak to these topics.
When an adept interviewer meets a knowledgeable interviewee, you’ll see a more comfortable and candid back-and-forth, which then leads to more honest, unique, and valuable content.
Leveraging the Social Proof of Interviewees
When your interview subjects are established and well-versed in their categories, you don’t just gain expert insights for your content. You’ll also find the essential element of social proof.
Let’s say a company selling customer support software publishes an article about the value of excellent customer support. Then, they plug their product in the last line. (A classic.)
Even if the piece is earnestly written and chock full of industry insights, all users see is another seller spinning their product as important. There’s no value-add or credibility to this content.
Enter stage left: social proof value.
This time, let’s say you’re a finance tool for brands, and you decide to interview a well-known fintech investor from your network as a feature in your content. A few things will happen:
- You attract your ICP — Brands are drawn to the piece (and thus your site) because they want to hear about industry projections and investment criteria from cool VCs.
- The content gains trust — Since the info is coming directly from experts in the space (not someone trying to sell you on something), it feels like a truly neutral third party.
- Support for your product feels honest — It’s the same reason why testimonials, case studies, celebrity and influencer endorsements, etc. dominate the conversation.
Of course, it goes without saying that interviewees should never be positioned as a mouthpiece for your marketing scripts. Rather, you’re amplifying their relevant, original thoughts and takes.
You’ll soon find readers are drawn to that transparency and credible insight.
Turn Conversations into Marketing Assets
Interview-based content is at its strongest when it maintains its human touch. In other words: It thrives when grounded in the familiarity of a simple conversation between two people.
This directly contrasts how, despite its best efforts, most marketing is plagued by impersonality.
That said, it’s still called content marketing for a reason. With every piece, your company’s marketing value and hard-fought branding and positioning need to shine through.
In the actual writing, it can be tricky to balance the personality of an interview with the strategy of a marketing asset. To start, Vicky drives home one basic but misunderstood principle:
When it comes to high-performing content, knowing your audience is everything.
Tactical Content Marketing = Knowing Your Audience
Whether through Copywriting 101 or your English class in high school, you’ve likely heard the direction: “Know your audience.” Yet, most of us were left without tactical steps to do so.
For Vicky, this looks like defining your reader (AKA your target audience or ICP), understanding their pain points and aspirations, and materializing all of this into the actual piece.
For instance, when Verbatim writes for an eCom infrastructure company, we make sure we’re crystal clear that the readership will likely be early-stage brands.
At a tactical level, that looks like writing and revising headlines until each one speaks directly to early-stage founders and the specific goals they want to meet.
Whether your audience craves more conversions, less resource drain, faster sales ops, or something else, you’re essentially crafting your content to speak to your ICP’s psychology.
Great content is an end-to-end process of knowing what the reader needs and will benefit from:
- From how you plan your interview questions to elicit relevant insights from your guests
- To how you distill and package tactical advice as an article, social graphic, etc.
Maintain the Uniqueness of Each Conversation
Circling back, Vicky reiterates that the strongest interview-based content can both:
- Function effectively as a targeted marketing asset
- Capture the “humanness” of a conversation between two people
These conversations are so valuable because every operator, founder, and investor (no matter how similar their roles or industries are) brings something entirely unique to the table.
In her words: “You can interview two VCs with super comparable resumés and years spent investing in eCom and get two very different or even contrasting takes on the space.”
Overall, each interviewee brings their one-of-a-kind personal background and path through the industry — creating a new conversational dynamic to influence that piece of content.
That in itself is inherently human, the kind of factor that can’t be replaced by simply researching and synthesizing existing knowledge on the Internet.
To honor that, Vicky suggests doing “perhaps too much research” on your guest before writing a piece, since, by distilling their ideas and advice, you’re almost writing on their behalf.
To best contextualize their opinions, keep their deeper background and unique path to investing or entrepreneurship (especially if they started out in a very unrelated career) in mind.