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Jill Reiswig

How to Write a Good Consumer Insight

Posted by Jill Reiswig

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. If that’s the case, then marketers should consider a well-written insight to be the equivalent of a business-building bazooka. But truth be told, insights don’t always come together quickly or easily when developing concepts. Most of the time, it takes a lot of time and effort to get them articulated just right. They must be compelling, without being preachy. They must be truthful, without being too obvious. They must be empathetic, without being presumptuous.

Good insights must be compelling, without being preachy. They must be truthful, without being too obvious. They must be empathetic, without being presumptuous. 

So where to begin? First, insist on actual insights. There are common traps that even seasoned marketers fall into when trying to craft insight statements. One example is mistaking a reverse benefit (“Wouldn’t it be nice if…”) for an insight. “Crafting a testable insight starts by stripping out the benefits-in-disguise,” says Writer and Director of Operations Liza Babcock. “Any time I see ‘I want’ or ‘I need’ in a statement, I step back and look for what is behind that want—to find the ‘because’ or ‘so what?’ in it.” Another regular issue to avoid is the tendency to trade insights for mere platitudes that leave the reader bored and thinking “duh,” after reading them. 

To move beyond these tendencies, consider these guidelines to make sure you’re executing a good insight:

  • Always strive to be succinct, concrete and descriptive.
  • Make insights simple and easy to understand. Communicate only the most important information—and do it in as few words as possible.
  • Don’t wander off-course. Find the most compelling way to communicate the lead idea.
  • And most importantly, express insights as a consumer might say them and relate to them. Avoid marketing speak at all costs.

Finally, take the time to get it right when it comes to constructing insights. Do your research. Talk to consumers. And then frame your insight statements in light of those learnings: 

  • Beliefs—these statements begin with “I believe…” or “I feel that…”
  • Hypotheses or Speculations—this type of insight usually begins with “As far as I know…” or “Common knowledge suggests…”
  • Meaningful Facts—statements that start with “The fact is…” and “It’s true that…”

Writing a great insight is a real art-form. When done well, it should sound spot-on, ring true and appear effortless. But as with any art, it’s only achieved with hard work and a skilled hand. Do it correctly, and your insight work has the ability to transform your concepts into a true masterpiece.


Jill Reiswig is the Content Marketing Manager for Ideas To Go, an innovation agency that works with Fortune 500 companies in ideation and concept development to incorporate the voice of the consumer.

©2013 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Comments

Rose »
Would love some examples...
Ideas To Go »
A good insight embodies the spirit of what’s real in a consumer’s life, and what consciously (or subconsciously) drives their behavior. It should serve up a slice of genuine reality so succinctly, and so accurately, that it will leave your customer nodding their head in violent agreement.

Here are a few insights that got our heads nodding:
• Teeth are only 25% of your mouth. (Listerine)
• See, the thing about dreams is, they don't retire. (Ameriprise)
• Depression hurts. (Cymbalta)
Taylor »
Interesting to see what you choose as examples of insights and the way you speak of insights ("executing a good insight" - odd verb to me). 'Insight', like 'finding', 'data', and other standard words leave a lot of room for interpretation in the research and marketing communities. That's one thing lacking in the original post is the definition of an insight in terms of what it is derived from, what it is used for / meant to do, and how it stands in relation to other terms.
Jill Reiswig »
We've written a few other articles that might address some of your questions. First, check out The Insight Imperative (www.ideastogo.com/insight-imperative)--it touches on what an insight is. You can also read my post--How To Leverage a Consumer Insight (www.ideastogo.com/leveraging-consumer-insights).
Rose »
Thanks, Jill! :)
Martha Guidry »
A concept doesn't really have an insight, it has an Accepted Consumer Belief (ACB). There is a difference. My book, Marketing Concepts that Win! explains this. An insight ia a piece of information that cracks open the discussion of the consumer unmet need or frustration while an ACB is articulating that insight in a way that the consumer nods her head and thinks "Yes". For example, am insight might be "Men with gray hair have character, but women with gray hair look old." In contrast, an ACB may be "When my hair has gray, I don't think I look as young as I feel inside."
kazi »
great article jill!!!
Javier »
Some examples would be nice.
sara ali »
good article but there should be some examples of insights, that would be nice.
Jill Reiswig »
I listed a few insight examples in the comments above--just to reiterate:
A good insight embodies the spirit of what’s real in a consumer’s life, and what consciously (or subconsciously) drives their behavior. It should serve up a slice of genuine reality so succinctly, and so accurately, that it will leave your customer nodding their head in violent agreement.

Here are a few insights that got our heads nodding:
• Teeth are only 25% of your mouth. (Listerine)
• See, the thing about dreams is, they don't retire. (Ameriprise)
• Depression hurts. (Cymbalta)

 

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