Balancing Conversational Marketing with Interviewing

Recently in the social media department, we were talking about how the phone calls we make as Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) at Incept are similar to interviews.

Wikipedia defines an interview as “a conversation between two people where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.” Whatever setting the interview is in, whether it’s in front of a camera for a news show, recruiting blood donors over the phone or a job interview for a business, many of the rules of conversational marketing should, ideally, remain the same:

  • Listen
  • Include the “human element,” as described in Jim Beuoy’s post The Human Element of Conversational Marketing
  • Educate and appreciate, mentioned in Billie Johnson’s post What is Conversational Marketing
  • Ask “How are you?”
  • Acknowledge questions
  • Be sincere, from Rebecca Weiand’s post This is NOT Conversational Marketing

After some thought, I realized that there is one big difference between an interview and conversational marketing: the type of questions. Job interviews, for example, always have open-ended questions:

  • What is your greatest strength/weakness?
  • What interests you about this company?
  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?

In conversational marketing, we ask close-ended questions – typically “yes or no” and “one or the other” questions. Instead of asking general questions, we ask very specific ones that only require a one-word answer:

  • Are you available on weekdays or weekends?
  • Would a morning or an afternoon appointment work better for you?
  • Do you meet these requirements?

See the difference? Neither approach is necessarily better or worse than the other, it just depends on the context. For Incept’s purposes, when we interview a blood donor to recruit them for another appointment, we have to balance friendly customer service and fact finding. My advice for everyone in conversational marketing is to treat each phone call as if you’re speaking with a friend, not just someone you want to get something from. But also remember that you have to gather information so that you can analyze what their needs are.

Find that balance between conversation and interview.

In your interactions with blood donors and other customers, how do you balance obtaining information with conversation?