I was fortunate last week to have the opportunity to interview a customer of one of my clients – a business owner whose asset is his intellectual property and his process for using the IP to help his own clients succeed. I had a list of questions I wanted to ask him to better understand his company’s services, but when I sat down next to him and looked him in the eyes none of those questions felt right.
So, instead, I simply asked, “what are you passionate about?”
Words cannot convey how quickly his face lit up and his body relaxed…it was as if I’d just watched stress evaporate. He was literally illuminated with delight for being given the opportunity to talk about what he was passionate about.
As you might guess, he’s very passionate about his business.
Of course, our discussion eventually evolved to focusing on his services, but it evolved from a place within himself where he felt connected to his passion for his company’s vision. The energy of our conversation reflected this connection and his driving passion.
So what did I discover from a strategic marketing perspective by asking this question?
1. What he’s really selling; what his company is really about on its most meaningful level
We’re all working toward something much deeper and more meaningful than we sometimes realize, and I was able to get to the heart of what that is for him. Beyond his services he gets great satisfaction from helping people perform at the level they are truly capable of performing at. But I realized while listening to him that what he is most passionate about actually goes a layer deeper…his true joy comes from watching people transform their lives. This was a striking revelation for me.
2. A story
When people talk about their passion there is usually a story behind it – or because of it – that will surface. As this gentleman talked with me a very poignant experience he had with a client popped into his mind and he openly shared it with me. It helped clearly and soulfully illustrate what’s most rewarding about his company and how it brings him real joy.
3. A much deeper connection
Anytime I make a deeper connection with someone it enriches my life. Now I can build on this customer connection in a way that will benefit both of us personally as well as professionally, and will benefit my client as well. I could not have gotten to this point if I’d fillowed my original list of questions. I simply couldn’t have.
4. A marketing plan
By the time my interviewee finished talking about what he is passionate about (and yes, he did stop hesitantly several times and ask, “are you sure this isn’t corny?” to my reply, “no, it’s brilliant”) it was clear to me how I could create content that would more vividly depict his vision and his company’s brand via stories.
As we know, great brands are great stories well told.
5. A whole new approach to interviewing customers that I’m now eager to experiment with
The interview was an excellent reminder for me of how deeply people engage when talking about their passion, and how much they naturally reveal about themself and their business when given the opportunity to share with a genuinely engaged listener.
Do you ask your customers what they’re passionate about? How do they usually respond to the question? If not, will you try it? Please let me know in the comments section - I’d be honored to hear and learn from each of you!
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Photo is Passion by _Imaji_.