Great Brand Leaders start with the consumer first, while OK Brand Leaders tend to start with their product. They can both go on a similar journey of strategy, tactics and execution, but what comes out at the end will be remarkably different. Look at Apple who starts with the consumer and connects emotionally compared to Samsung who starts with the technology and connects rationally.
I always like to ask Brand Leaders: “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?” Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that. But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job. My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand. You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes. When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability. Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.
Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer. With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going: strategic thinking and consumer behavior. Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way. You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day. Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals. But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately. Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find. The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up. This is what they love. Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.
Consumers are selfish, and rightfully so, because they have money. Consumers won’t part with their money until they get something in a fair trade. They might buy your product one time because of what you do. But they’ll buy it all the time if they get something from it. Put yourself in the consumers shoes for a minute and ask two questions: 1. “So what do i get?” helps uncover the rational benefit and what part of their life you will solve. 2. “So how does it make me feel” uncovers the emotional benefit and figures out how you’ll be part of their life. For rational benefits, you’ll become liked and can become part of their routines. But for emotional benefits, you’ll become loved and a ritual in their life. They’ll pay a premium price for it, defend you at all costs and love you for life.
Brands have really four choices: better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Marketers tend to get so fixated on being better that they take some small feature and try to make a huge deal out of it. But they tend to leave out he option of DIFFERENT. Within a sea of brands yelling features at the consumer, one of the best things you could do to stand out as DIFFERENT, is to get on the side of your consumer. Next time you’re writing a brief and you come to the desired response, please don’t put: “I want to buy that product”. What you should be striving for is “That brand gets me” or “This brand is for me”.
The only way to really “get” and connect with the consumer is to uncover amazing consumer insights.
What is an insight?
Whenever I give a talk on insights I use the following stats and ask is this an insight: In North America, people brush their teeth an average of 1.6 times per day, yet in Brazil people brush their teeth up to 4-6 times a day. Almost without fail, someone in the audience will think it’s an insight. And we know this because we see it show up on briefs or in decks that sell in a product.
It’s a fact, not an insight. What are we missing? Well it’s just a data point and we don’t really understand much else. Maybe people in Brazil eat spicier foods, engage in closer conversation, have problems with lack of fluoride, or maybe the people of Brazil have an increased vanity and this is just one more example. We don’t really know, until we go below the surface of the facts and uncover meaningful insights.
My definition of Insight is Quite Different. Insight is not something that consumers never knew before. That would be knowledge or news, but not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Here is my definition: Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.
That’s why we laugh hysterically when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama. Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices. Insights need to be interesting or intriguing. My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing behaviour.
Jerry Seinfeld is the god of insights, whether it’s his TV show or his stand up routine. There is zero shock value to Seinfeld and he never tells us anything new. In fact, everything he says is exactly what our inner self is thinking. He just serves it up in a creative manner to make us laugh. I saw Seinfeld do a 90 minute stand up routine and I giggled the entire time because I could everything that he said already part of my life.
Mining for Insights
The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category.
Strategic Planners at Ad Agencies have a certain talent for uncovering insights. As margins are squeezed, too many agencies are reducing the role of planners. As a client, that’s a big mistake. I have always loved having a great planner on my brands.
What I normally do is bring together a collection of people who best know the brand, the business and of course the consumer. And we brainstorm to get a collection of insights. Insights can be mined from many sources.
- Find insights by bringing intuition to important data points by asking: “so what does this mean” or “how do we think this happened?”.
- Insights can come from up-close observations of the consumer, in qualitative focus groups or in observing the purchase behavior in action. Listen to what they say and how they say it. Capture insightful quotes that summarize a big idea, as inspiration.
- Insights can come from mapping out a day in the life of the consumer to understand what’s going on in their brains. In healthcare, we found Sunday’s nights was the best time to consider a jolt to improving your healthcare, not Thursday.
- Insights can come from looking at consumer problems in life, by creating talking about “who is the consumers enemy?” Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
- If you track Voice of the Customer (VOC), you can find some very interesting raw data from the consumer. You can potentially mine Facebook or Twitter comments from consumers.
Framing the Insights
It’s important to decide when and how you will use Insights. I normally will build 2-3 insights into a creative brief to give it some flavour. I’ll lead off a Brand Concept with an enemy style consumer insight. It’s a great way to connect with consumers and set up the potential problem they are facing.
When it comes to writing consumer insights, I force everyone to start off start off each statement with the word “I” that forces us to get in the shoes of consumers and then put the insight in quote signs that forces us to use their voice.
Here are Examples of how that can work for you:
- For a Bank: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”.
- Quit Smoking: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.”
Your Brand will be more engaged and powerful when you take the stance that everything starts and ends with the Consumer in Mind
To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:
Here’s a story I wrote last year that ties in closely by challenging Brand Leaders, click on this link Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind
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