Insights are the foundation to making confident business decisions, finding valuable opportunities, and continually improving the customer experience. Strong insights align teams around a common understanding, while bringing clarity and coherence to strategies. At their best, they illuminate, inspire, and guide practical and creative actions right away and over the long term.
Yet businesses often undervalue the research that leads to insights for many understandable reasons:
So let’s address each of these issues.
As marketers, we often get caught up in the day-to-day - more channels, same budget. It’s a steady stream of content and increasingly complex campaigns to manage. So how do you determine what’s working? Do you know who you’re reaching and what they really care about? What about who you’re not reaching? What opportunities do you miss by not stepping back to take stock of your customers, competitors, and cultural context?
When considering investment for insights work, first think about the cost of not doing the work - of missed opportunities, less effective targeting, convoluted messages, and ungrounded creative. Then see how much value could be gained from being able to create richer, more nuanced, more emotionally resonant, and more efficient brand and marketing efforts if they were led by practical, deeply-considered insights. For most brands, the value is clear.
It is essential for brands to think about long-term growth, not just short-term gains. Marketers can lose sight of deeper truths when they’re stuck in a daily routine of putting out fires. This is especially true these days when it is so easy for new brands to come along and shake up entire industries, while niche players increasingly steal market share in so many categories.
The only way to build an enduring brand is to connect deeply with customers - to serve their needs, surpass their expectations, delight them - and do so differently than anything else in the market, not just better than your nearest competitor. Otherwise, your customers will eventually move on.
In that context, spending 6-8 weeks to conduct in-depth customer and brand analysis is worth it for setting you on a path toward long-term growth. The sooner you figure out what makes you meaningfully different, the sooner you can define and own your own category.
We’ve worked with many brands that had previously spent considerable time and budget conducting insights work only to have it languish in slide decks with no concrete actions taken. And sometimes different teams conduct their own research, creating conflicting points of view when the results are not compared or aggregated. As a result, it can be difficult aligning teams around the work.
To address this, we start by reviewing all previously-conducted research to look for hidden insights, conflicting data, and unanswered questions. This gives us a solid foundation from which to provide even greater clarity, nuance, and support through a more formal insights approach.
Unlike a lot of the research decks we’ve seen out there, we believe it is essential to provide concrete outcomes with our insights, including brand differentiation, messaging, customer “job to be done” statements, and content themes. We also typically connect this research directly to brand development, marketing strategy, and channel work so that brands can seamlessly implement insights right away and over the long term.
We can’t emphasize enough the value of conducting insights work with partners who will also support implementation. This is the most effective way of acting on the research to transform your business into an enduring brand, explore innovation opportunities, and serve your customers well every time.
Just about any brand can benefit from investing in insights work - especially when it is connected directly to implementation. It pays to reframe issues of cost, time, and impact, and consider the long-term implications for translating deeper knowledge of your customers, market, and cultural context into practical actions for building an enduring brand.