Insight is one of the most misused words in the business of marketing and communication. They are loosely used to denote any not-so-obvious fact. At times the ability of it being commercially exploitable and being helpful in enhancing impact of a brand / process is treated as secondary. It primarily remains an inferred answer from observation of current trends in Human behaviour and expectations.
It is the overlap between the provider and user interest. Example: consumer insight- is derived from inferred learning in the intersection of consumer and brand interest.
As per a WARC report, most marketers (some 33%) are happy with their insights function. On the other side, some 25% believe that the methodologies used for insight mining are too traditional, insights too obvious and difficult to put into action. These marketers also regard some of their insights colleagues as lacking in passion or real business understanding.
In his article, the famed Scott Grey uses a great analogy to say ‘insights are to an idea what Blitz firelighters are to a fire…. If observations were the tip of the iceberg, the remaining two-thirds below the water, the part that is not immediately obvious, would be the insights’.
While decentralisation and departmentalisation to get better efficiencies have their advantages, it has somewhere created few blocks. Organisations have Insight and Innovation departments. They have failed to understand that Insight and Innovation is everyone’s responsibility. Depending on specialised department for insight and innovation is suicidal and must be stopped.
Insights are too important to be left for a bunch of people working in silos to discover. Insights require an attitude of relentless observation, questioning and synthesis. It requires a jeweller’s mind-set in evaluation and an adventurous attitude to experiment and challenge the current status. And that not just a stated attitude in successful organisations but the organisational culture.
Most insights in discussion are Consumer and customer oriented. And there is nothing wrong in it. People with myopic future vision see them from a singular lens of marketability.
Unfortunately in most organisations, the discoverer, evaluator and the user of insight maybe different entities. Worse, the complete organisation is rarely involved in evaluation and hence amplification of the impact of the insight is never to its potential.
The aim of an insight is to understand the underlying mindsets, moods, motivation, desires and aspirations that will trigger attitude and actions. It is a non-obvious understanding, which if acted upon, has the potential to change behaviour for mutual benefit.
The way to initial scrutiny of an insight can use simple 4 filters defined by Paul Laughlin. It is “non-obvious”. It is discovered and not available with the current set of analysis and synthesis of information. They are “action-able”. If it is non-implementable and remains theoretical it is not an insight. It should be powerful enough. When acted upon, it should be able to “change the behaviour”. It must lead to “mutual benefit”. It must benefit the intended user (target Groups) and the implementer.
In this respect, I personally like comment of Robert Dreblow, head of marketing capabilities at the WFA; he says, “Actionable insights are an essential part of great marketing. Firms that get their insights teams delivering new tools and insights that they can leverage across the business will be in a better position to deliver sustainable growth.”
The critical action word here is ‘across’ department and functions. How will it help, create, sustain a change. What is the half-life of the insight on which we are banking to make the difference?
To really qualify as an insight, it must positively impact the long-term interest of the implementer. It must pass the complete organisational filter.
Once you are satisfied that the new discovery is good enough to be called an insight, it may be advisable to pass it through few more lenses. It needs to be seen through individual and collective lenses of HR, production, sales, marketing, technology, consumer and trade. And when it passes the critical framework test at every stage of the organisation, or it is tweaks and mutates, re-articulated and re-calibrated the insight becomes real game changer.
This new version of insight will help prevent any nasty surprises at a later date, the complete organisational alignment and understanding of its importance. It thus will become a weapon with far higher potential.
Oh, this is not a necessary condition for success. But it can enhance your chances of success or help amplify the results.
The decision is always yours and only time has all the answers. But it is worthwhile to take a conscious open-eyed decision. After all only you can understand and fire your Ambitions.
You remain within your rights to overlook the need of passing the newly discovered insight through the organisational filters. You can remain the king of your captive cocooned existence.
First published in mxmindia.com
Sanjeev Kotnala with 28 years of corporate experience is Founder of Intradia World. A Brand, Marketing & Management Advisory, he focuses on IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and INNOVATION (InNoWait) process workshops and training. Email firstname.lastname@example.org tweet @s_kotnala web: www.intradia.in www.sanjeevkotnala.com.