Behind every great brand, is a great story.

For ambitious professionals, the day-to-day of meetings, to-do lists, and deadlines can sometimes feel all-consuming. But it’s important to take a step back every once in awhile and assess the bigger picture: why are you here? And what goals is your company working towards that you can play a part in achieving?

Beyond reading the “about” section of your company website, it helps to go straight to the source. While it may be intimidating, approaching your C-suite is the best way to get to the heart of your brand’s origin story and path to its present success. These seven questions provide the perfect jumping off point for a candid discussion with your CEO:

1. What do you know about the company’s founding? Why does the company exist? Whose idea was it?

Find out as much as you can about the company’s history, starting with its founding and overarching purpose. While these goals may have since evolved with the company’s growth, a company’s roots say a lot about its long-term values and aspirations.

2. What were the early successes that got us to where we are today?

Most companies can pinpoint a timeline of events that have led to their ultimate success. Maybe it was a crucial early stage angel investor, hitting an important round of seed funding, or acquiring a big name client. Learn as much as you can about each milestone, and consider how past wins could help shape future strategies and influence priorities moving forward.

3. Who is your dream customer or client?

As consumers come to expect increasingly personalized products and services, knowing precisely who you’re selling to is more important than ever. Ask the CEO specific details about his or her dream client, so you can tailor your marketing content to reach and resonate with the right audience.

4. What makes our company’s product or service unique in its ability to serve “x” need or solve “y” problem?

Now that you have a solid understanding of your CEO’s vision of the ideal customer, ask about the company’s unique ability to meet the needs of said customer. Pinpointing differentiators can help you strengthen and narrow your marketing messages to focus on what matters most.

5. What will the company look like five years from now if we are successful?

If the daily grind’s left you a little bit burnt out, identifying a set of tangible long-term goals may help reinvigorate your day-to-day work and keep you motivated to succeed. Learning how your CEO defines success will give you a clear vision of what you need to achieve, and how to achieve it.

6. What’s the one thing you wish everyone in the world knew about our company? And what are we doing to get the word out?

Tons of brands have built loyal fan followings by staying true to their core values and driving home one tried-and-true message with consumers.

Find out what your CEO perceives to be the one most important, unique quality of your company. If there hasn’t been a concerted effort made to preach this gospel thus far, what steps could you personally take to better disseminate this message?

7. Who are the key players in the success of your company?

Ask who specifically has driven the company to success, and what makes them valuable team players. These are the people you’ll want to learn from and work with if you hope to one day become an integral part of the story yourself.

Just as every employee has a story, so too does every brand. In order to really understand and embrace the values of your company, ask your CEO a few of these hard-hitting questions. You might be surprised what you learn, and how you can apply this knowledge to improve your own work (plus, it never hurts to build connections with people at the top!).

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer content marketing services and strategies to transform your company blog into an authoritative trade publication. Click to learn more about how to produce great content and prove ROI on your marketing efforts.

Author Hilary Krutt

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Hilary joined L&T after several years in the publishing industry at Simon & Schuster. As a member of the editorial board for the Off the Shelf book blog, her writing has been featured on the Huffington Post, among other major publications. At L&T, Hilary manages content quality and production, collaborating directly with writers, content managers, and clients to ensure every piece we write hits the mark every time. In her free time, Hilary is an avid reader and live music enthusiast. She hails from Boston but currently calls Brooklyn home.

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