25 November 2008
I often write case studies. This involves interviewing people to get them to tell me how great a particular product or service is, and then writing that up on behalf of the supplier so it can be used for marketing purposes.
I have two killer questions I always end the call with. First, what would you say to others thinking about using [the product]? That usually results in a direct endorsement which can otherwise be hard to stitch together from the interview. Secondly, I ask what the best thing is about the product or supplier. Even in a long interview where the interviewee is now repeating the same answer to distinctly different questions, that tends to throw up something new and interesting.
Yesterday I was researching a story about a giant IT transformation project, of the kind that only true industry leaders can attempt. I asked the project manager "what would you say is the best thing about [supplier]?" There was a long pause, so I knew he was going to come up with something well considered, something that would bring a new light to the dry technology story we had so far.
"The best thing about them?" he said. "Their name. I just like the way it sounds when you say it."