Great Marketing Starts With Powerful Insights: Here Are 5 Rules to Find Them
All inspiring marketing rests on a powerful, catalyzing insight. Most marketing misfires stem from a miscue masquerading as an insight. As the starting point for any innovation, communication or experience effort, nothing is more foundationally critical than a sound insight for staying on-target as work progresses.
If an insight is even two degrees off at the start, by the time you’re reviewing work weeks or months down the road, you’ll likely be miles off the mark. So getting the insight right from the outset is essential to developing resonant marketing and avoiding the agony of round after round of unproductive work.
As a recent case in point, we have two examples of brands that tried to take on the issue of the polarized, strident state of our social reality: Pepsi and Heineken.
With its Kendall Jenner ad, Pepsi showed the quasi-celebrity resolving social crisis by opening a can of cola.
In World’s Apart, Heineken showcased pairs of people with wildly divergent views discovering they could talk calmly and reasonably to each other.
The Pepsi work was instantly and universally panned, leading to its embarrassing and equally instant withdrawal. The Heineken work was widely viewed as thought-provoking, moving and appropriate.
While it’s easy to pick on a variety of issues with the Pepsi ad (as so many have done at this point), I believe that the difference in the success of the two efforts comes down to the difference between how well the two brands adhered to what I consider these cardinal rules of good insights.
1. No Room for Wishful Thinking
One of the worst — and most common — sins of insights is allowing wishful thinking to creep into the mix. I shudder to think how many times I’ve sat with a brand manager who showed me a positioning statement containing an insight along the lines of, “I wish there were a breakfast cereal that was healthy AND tasted good.” This is an insight pre-engineered to invite the circular brand promise, “Only Toasty-O’s are healthy AND good tasting!” You’ve got to tune your BS meter to 11, rigorously sniff out any trace of self-delusion, strategy or aspiration, and stick to reality.
2. Dig for Penetrating, Revealing Discoveries
Remember the actual word: in-sight. Not surface observation. A good insight delves deeply, going beyond the obvious, trite no-brainers of the category. If it leaps word-for-word off the pages of a survey, it’s probably not an insight. A good one usually involves some tension, some contradiction underlying the more visible and mundane realities. “People get frustrated waiting on lines at airports,” is not an insight. “I feel like the airline takes away my humanity,” may be.
3. Focus on Human Truths
If you limit yourself to insights around your product or service, you’re likely to end up with functionally uninspiring work. Go one concentric circle out from your category and look for human truths — this is where you’ll find more resonant, catalyzing insights that will help your marketing strike a nerve. “I wish I could get Hershey chocolate in a small, bite-sized package,” is an unengaging product insight (and a bit self-delusory). “In our busy lives, we don’t take the time to appreciate each other,” is a human insight that unlocks great brand possibilities, like Kisses’ #ShowYouCare.
4. Connect the Dots
Interesting insights usually involve the intersection of two truths. Look for nuggets in the consumer behavior, purchase patterns, broader trends, and then cross-tab those with insights about your product, your category, innovation capabilities. As you do this, dig for the emotional “why” underlying that relationship? Why are consumers doing what they’re doing? Why does this issue matter to them?
5. Stay Relevant to the Brand
The final, and most important rule is to find that powerful human truth that has a credible connection to the brand. It’s not enough to be highly resonant and achingly true — there must be a valid potential role for the brand in resolving the revealed tension. This is where Pepsi went particularly wrong. Somewhere an “insight” presumed that Pepsi could unlock the goodness and oneness in people, and thereby catalyze a revolution of harmony — and that’s just a bridge too far. Heineken nailed the more appropriate aspiration for their brand in the midst of social tension — to sit down and have a chat over a beer.
Next time you’re on round six of work from the agency and you’re pulling your hair out wondering why they just don’t get it, take a pause before you get medieval on your account exec. Take a look at the insight sitting way back in the brief. Stare at it with harsh, skeptical eyes. There’s a better than even chance that you’re experiencing referred pain from an insight that isn’t one.
Originally posted on TARGET MARKETING.
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