Peter Barton, editor-in-chief at inEvidence, selects 10 format ideas, including fresh interview styles and methods of repurposing old content, to reinvigorate your customer stories.
- The Guardian’s This Much I Know format: high-profile customers are interviewed and their best quotes are stripped out. Anyone can work, it is not time sensitive, the content can be gathered on the phone, in 20 minutes, wherever. You arrange a great portrait shot at a convenient date. See Chris Hoy, John C Reilly, Katherine Jenkins. For references, this format could sit alongside the traditional case study (which contains the ‘news’), acting as a piece of background on your most valued customers
- Another interview format, Lunch with the FT. Again, this format can be applied to any subject: you could choose to run a series with CEOs, or strictly CIOs. It presents an opportunity to treat the customer to a nice lunch, and creates a more informal interview style. In this instance graphics replace photography
- Can’t afford lunch, don’t have the time? How about an interview via a Skype conversation, in this case Lena Durham and Judd Apatow. Record the call, transcribe, edit, arrange for a great pic. Ideal for busy, hard to reach customers
- See also the interview conducted via email with a major personality, by a major personality. Here, the film director Steven Soderburgh and actress Rooney Mara. For the reference world, it could be a key customer interviewed by your product designer. The fact the interview is conducted by a name may give it greater influence. It could certainly help with Twitter/social media distribution.
- Or create a standard questionnaire. Same questions, different person. Can be mailed to the interviewee, or done over the phone or face to face. Not time sensitive (you could produce a stock of content from one conference) and can use a standard portrait shot
- A story on the origins of a story (in this case, a New Yorker piece on the origins of Argo). For references, it could be on a major customer issue successfully dealt with ten years ago – as long as the customer is still live. It shows the longevity of the relationship and proves you have earned the right to call yourself ‘partner’. This should never outweigh the current story, but could make for a nice accompaniment and deepens the reference
- Similar to the above: The Retrospective. Looking back on a big story, interview the major characters and give the story behind the story, and deliver fresh insight. In this case, Vanity Fair on the making of Pulp Fiction. For references, the customer, account manager, lab guys and product manager on the launch of a major product ten years ago
- Collecting snippets from recent stories and repackaging them as trend reports. A little like Industry Credentials, but with a stronger sense of topicality
- The annual list. Doesn’t need to be a ranking, but a good device for creating a club (have you made the list?) and for starting a conversation. It also serves to remind readers of your requirements for making the list: what does great look like?
- Go see Pictory. A beautiful site that invites readers to send in photographs in response to a theme, with short captions. The best images are chosen by a panel of judges. It works because it provides a quality home for content, shows trust in the community and keeps the content fresh. For references, invite customers to explain how they solved a particular issue with a piece of your kit, or how they represent one of your products’ qualities (agility, efficiency, collaboration, etc). The thrill is in the unexpected.