Interviewing clients is a key skill for anyone who writes for business. Not all clients are expressive and fluent – that’s why they hired you! So you need to practise deep listening for information, marketing goals, customers, tone of voice, and lots more. It’s a lot to cover, but there some things you can do to prepare in advance. Here are some areas to research before picking up the phone.
When you first speak to a new client, your job is to listen, learn, ask questions and gather useful information. You don’t need to be an expert on the company.
However, it’s good idea to do some background research for a point of comparison. Don’t spend too long – ½ hour or so should cover the basics.
- Scan the client website and note quality of
- SEO copy.
- Check out their Twitter feed, Facebook and blog. If they’re business to business (B2B), check out their LinkedIn.
- Check out their company mission statement. This will indicate their values, eg price, quality, flexibility.
- Try to work out their unique selling proposition (USP).
- Do a web search with their main product or service, and note the 2 main competitors. Scan these sites for an overview, noting good and bad points.
- If they’re a hospitality client, check their TripAdvisor presence.
Don’t criticise design, photography or copy. It may have been done in-house!
This should give you enough basic background for your fact-finding call with the client.
When interviewing clients, there’s no need for nerves. You’re in exactly the same position as a new customer encountering them for the first time, and so your feedback is valuable and will be appreciated.
Looking for more practical advice for writing business start-ups? See my best-selling How to Launch a Freelance Copywriting Business.