Insights: The (Missing) Link
In a future post I will try to categorize insights. In the meantime, here are some random thoughts:
- An ideal insight will provide the link between the business problem, the customer and the product.
- Research leads to observations. Observations enable us to ask the right questions to which the subsequent answers are insights. They explain whypeople do what they do, and provide the link between research and tactics.
- Insights are mostly irrational and intuitive. People typically can’t articulate their real motivations, and the challenge therefore becomes to find out something about people that they don’t know about themselves. I find that being brutally honest to myself help identifying insights which are true of others as well. Well, at least I assume so.
- How effective is it to tell people what they essentially already know about themselves? A brand should solve a problem, not telling people what their problems are.
- The more specific the insight, the more valuable it becomes. An insight that relates directly, and preferably exclusively, to your brand or your target audience is more actionable. However, in terms of creating big, long-term ideas, it is an advantage if the insight also relates to a wider cultural phenomenon. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
- In an increasingly democratic marketing environment, the consumer get to do more talking, and the brand more listening, than used to be the case; the consequences of which are the increased importance of creativity during the strategic stage.
- The creativity in strategic planning lies in defining new problems, looking at these from fresh perspectives and coming up with surprising, yet relevant, approaches to solve them.
- Previously, advertising was theoretical; rhetoric appearing in a virtual and impersonal media space. Today, communication is practice; interaction takes place in a real and physical world inhabited by people (yes, even in cyberspace). Attitudes and behaviour must be changed in practice, not just in an ideal abstract world. This has increased the importance of insights.
- The role of communication has changed. Rather than coming up with clever ways of telling people how they should feel, we must find ways of engaging people and incentivize them to interact with and invest in the brand. This requires insights on several levels.
- There are many kinds of insights and they go to inform different aspects of a strategy; the value of which will often be influenced by the nature of the problem they are intended to solve. Some are rational; others emotional; some derived from observation; others from perception and even assumption.
- Many ads are based on ideas rather than insight. The ideas may be great, but must have a foundation of insights. When these still are successful, I believe it is because people have taken ownership of the brand and taken over the control of its connotations. Without insights a brand is an abstract entity that belongs to no one and everyone. It’s up for grabs and, depending on the product, may be held hostage by a segment of the market. It can turn out to be positive, but is ultimately a risky business.
- Many insights are generic, and the final ads often end up being generic too; they end up promoting a product category rather than a brand.
- “Our consumers love cricket/rugby/music (so lets tap into this love)” is thus not an insight. The answer to why they love music or cricket, on the other hand, is.
- Some brands seem to have an idea of what type of attitudes and rhetoric appeal to their audience, but without a link to the business problem and the product, communication is next to superfluous. The key to effectiveness becomes the missing link.
Have you heard of a Maslowian insight? Probably not cause I just made it up. Please keep on checking my blog for updates and you will soon learn what it is and why it can make a huge difference