There is one asset that every brand or organization possesses and could use in its marketing and storytelling but often doesn’t. This treasure is unique within each brand, yet every brand has it in common. And if they were to take advantage of this asset in their storytelling and content marketing, most often they would build brand champions, renew passing customer relationships, and connect with a whole new audience. This common gem? Your people.
Animation can be expensive and impersonal. That crazy fast-drawing hand with a marker is distracting. But a video featuring the people who provide your service or those you serve are the most valuable storytellers you’ve got. Nobody shares your success story better than the people who create or receive the awesomeness behind your brand.
Our Perfect People
My most recent project provides true proof. To promote St. George’s School of Montreal on video, we focused on its people. Students, to be exact. After all, who better to explain if a school is worthwhile than the students? And who is a prospective student or parent most likely to listen to and trust? Right again, the students.
Initial research in focus groups and informal conversations showed that the students were as capable as any adults (parents, teachers, alumni) in telling their story of why St. George’s provides an unmatched learning experience in our market – and beyond. They also bring to life a tremendous personal passion when speaking of their school experience. Best of all, the students are a debating, volunteering, competing, and academic real-world army of examples of the results that are possible in attending this school. Each is a case study and proof that this is an amazing school.
In Their Words, Not Ours
So, when we approached this video project, we made it clear that we wanted to hear from students in their own words. We interviewed many ages with many interests and allowed them to tell us their story. We did not write a script. Instead, we wrote an outline. This outline listed the unique assets of our school including the relationship between teacher and student, the approach to learning that focuses on each individual student, the learning environment that puts the student at the centre of their personal learning and development, to name just a few.
Then we wrote open-ended questions that allowed each student to talk about each of those aspects and tell us their personal impressions and experiences. The result was magical. Students lit up on camera when recalling how and why their experience at St. George’s perfect for them. And, as expected, each student’s story is a little different, adding to the flavour of the video which showcases the diversity across athletics, academics, arts, and more!
A Few Tips on Interview Questions
- Write open-ended questions that ask your subjects to share their opinions, ideas or experiences. Do not ask questions that will bring a “yes” or a “no”.
- Use your keywords in each question and ask your subject to repeat it in their answer. Example: “What does the learning environment here allow you to do as a student?” Ask them to begin their answer by stating, “The learning environment allows me to…” (And in the actual video, the student goes one step further with, “What I like about the learning environment is …”). You don’t have to explain to them that these are your keywords. Just ask them to repeat the question as they begin their answer.
- Get a so-so answer? Ask the same question later in the interview. If they gave a luke-warm answer on question #3, after question #6, ask #3 again. Everyone gets nervous about an on-camera interview. With a thousand thoughts flying through their mind as they’re answering your questions, it’s perfectly natural that they flub an answer or leave something out. Give them another chance and you may get a gem.
- Reassure your guest. Before you begin the interview, make sure they understand that you won’t include any words they stumble on or flub. You want to make them look good. This turns their panic-meter way down.
- Listen to them as they speak. Some of your best material often comes from a new idea they introduce, so feel free to ask follow-up questions.
Who Are Your People?
I’ve been in companies where the business-owner was the best interview because they believed so passionately about customer service. In an energy startup, it was the civil-engineer/calculation wizard who was so passionate about reworking spreadsheets to find ways to get the customers better results. He just kept going back, again and again, saying, “I can save them more money, I’m sure of it!”. Every team has its stars. Who are yours?
Maybe it’s a video. Maybe it’s a blog post. Or, maybe just a quote and a photo. Keep it simple and authentic. The simpler it is for you and for your people, the easier it is to create an opportunity for them to comfortably share their passion – and shine!
* I highly recommend Beanduck Productions, the Montreal-based partners who produced this video with us.
*Photo: Brella.com (strong resource for video best-practices)