Your Research Assignment Continued: The Informational Interview

If you were following my post from last week you may have begun the research phase of your brand-building strategy.

Market research, as you may recall, begins with your customers, or in this case your targeted industries in general and the target companies specifically that you wish to work for.

Hopefully you are fairly well-read in these areas by now. If you are, congratulations! You are finished with (most of) your secondary data collection and all of that reading is about to pay off. The next step in your research is to consider the fit of your brand in these industries.

Collect data

Now it’s time to start collecting some primary or first-hand data. Just to jar some of your collective memories, this type of data specifically relates to your problem at hand. In this case, find a fit between your brand and the brand of your target industry. The only way to do that is to collect the information right from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

That information is low hanging fruit, readily available, and ripe for the picking, (sorry for the clichés, but they fit).

Get the names of managers and other personnel from those companies you read about. You can usually find them online. Find out their contact information, especially their phone numbers, and give them a call. It sounds old fashioned but people like a change of pace and actually hearing a living breathing voice over the phone. I would suspect you are pretty tired of unsolicited junk emails or recorded voices over the phone yourself.

Get on the phone

When you get through on the phone, ask them if you could buy them a cup of coffee possibly during lunch. Most people—even the most humble amongst us—like to talk about themselves and everyone likes a free cup of joe (or tea). Ask them about their jobs, how they got there, what their jobs are like. More importantly, ask for advice. Tell them about your brand and how you think it might be a good fit for their company/industry. Do this as much as you can.

You will be surprised, even with such busy schedules, how many interviews you will get. Take the information gleaned from these and tuck it away in the recesses of your mind. You will need it later for your job interviews. Don’t be surprised at how much of your informational interviews YOU will bring up at your job interviews. You are getting ready to shine!


Howard, an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at the California State University Fullerton, earned his Ph.D. from Temple University. Prior to joining the faculty at Cal State, Howard was on the faculty at Drexel University and The Pennsylvania State University. A native of Philadelphia, Howard has extensive experience in the public and private sectors working for organizations such as the Department of Defense, Motorola, and the CSX railroad.  His research expertise is in branding, sustainability, strategic pricing, and education. In addition to teaching at Cal State, Howard has a consulting business focused on branding. You can follow Howard on Twitter or connect with him at Linkedin.

Related posts:

  1. The Informational Interview
  2. Your Brand Assignment: Group Work
  3. Rolling Out Your Brand: Begin With Research

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