here an insight, there an insight, where an insight?


Every once in awhile in the ad/marketing business we talk about “what’s the insight that will help us create the big idea?”


Not every once in awhile.

Actually ad nausea.

So often your head hurts.

In fact it may be the reason why people in the industry drink as often as they do.

Wow.  I wonder if that is an insight.


Here is an insight to the aggravating people always asking for “an” insight.

There are product insights.

Company insights.

Consumer (or user) insights.

There are category insights for gods sake.

Insights are all around us (I wanted to use a gnat analogy but that could be construed as sarcastic).

Here an insight, there an insight, everywhere an insight (I believe that is a nursery rhyme insight reference).

In the end … a really good insight in marketing/brand management/product development/whatever development … marries the product and consumer needs.

Here is an insight.

Consumers don’t care about products or brands. All they care about is outcomes and results. Let’s , for simplistic sake, suggest that is “need.”

Some marketing insight guru described a consumer insight as “penetration into the target’s collective subconscious to unearth a link between untapped attitudes and behaviors to discover a deep-seated truth that reveals important needs/values the brand can exploit to connect with the target to impact attitudes and behaviors.”

That insight definition made my head hurt.

Especially the “exploiting” part.


I do like the ‘deep seated truth‘ part.

Regardless. Suffice it to say the guru meant “an insight into need.”

<oops. Too simple>


There is no one insight. Here is a truth <in Life, Love and insights>. There are a lot of “the ones” out there.

And rarely is an insight more than just a window of opportunity (only to be replaced by another “insight” at another time).

The only thing that stays the same? That truth part.

Because the frickin’ truth is that if you want to change something in a consumer mindset (attitude) leading to purchase/usage (behavior) which benefits the brand (sales) … focus on some outcome/result.

Yeah … yeah … yeah … that ‘outcome’ may be a Maslow type outcome (self-worth, appearance, esteem, actualization, etc.) but that is outcome for god’s sake … not some mumbo jumbo on a voodoo thing I want to penetrate and exploit.

It is something real to a person. And if it is real … it is a truth. And if it is a truth it cannot be exploited … it can only be something that can be ‘met.’
And, by the way, if you happen to wrangle up an insightful truth (and make it through the mumbo jumbo marketing maze internally and externally) it really can impact what you do:

–          Product design: how it looks and what it says on shelf or wherever you sell it. Why? Well. Now we can talk about exploiting. Because if you DID make it through the maze I can guarantee you are the exception to the rule … most of your competitors didn’t … therefore you can exploit their failure to do so (marketing gurus call this “weakness”).

–          Marketing communication: this is obvious … but easier than you think (assuming you have made it to a ‘deep seated truth’) … why is it so much easier? Well.

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm <I am thinking not humming>… because you have an opportunity to … well … speak the truth. Ok.  It’s harder than you think despite that fact. Because even if you make it to this point (having identified the truth) a shitload of people will panic … they will want to dress the truth up in Lady Gaga like clothing trying to make the truth look ‘sexy’ or cool (or more appealing). Why? Because sometimes people think the truth is too bland and needs to be spiced up <how sad is that?>.

Marketing gurus make you think this way because they want to call his truth thing something like “an untapped compelling belief”. Yeah. Right. Marketing bullshit. Run away. As fast as you can.

So.  This is easy if you are around people who accept that it is easy.

Ok. Next.

A lot of good insights are wasted. Not just because the window of opportunity closes while you dither around with whether the insight is really an insight or whether it is sexy enough … but because even with a good, or even mediocre, insight it gets wasted because then no one wants to clearly & succinctly identify who the insight should be communicated to.



It can be a real head scratcher … but let’s say you find a nifty insight against a specific group of people … and then all of a sudden some genius stands up and says “tell everyone that … maybe they just didn’t know ‘x’ and we need to tell them … because … well … your presentation was great … and we should tell everyone the truth.”

In marketing layman’s terms … this is some spineless jellyfish who doesn’t want to agree on a targeting choice but rather go to some broad audience (this is the infamous shotgun versus rifle battle).

Suffice it to say if most CMOs/Marketing/Agency decision makers were generals their armies would be carrying around shotguns and not rifles.

I think the Cosa Nostra called them “luparas” (lupara is an Italian word used to refer to a sawn-off shotgun traditionally associated with Cosa Nostra. The shortened barrel of a lupara lend itself to easier concealment and the lack of choke contributes to a wider spread of shot when the weapon is fired).



This is sounding more and more like the Valentine’s Day Massacre so maybe it is appropriate.

And it all starts so innocently.

“We need an insight.”

And it sounds simple … align purchaser need, an insight, and customer benefit and you can typically have a great opportunity to identify a good marketing idea.

Maybe it is simple because, once again, success revolves around the truth.

And maybe it is so frickin’ hard because, well, once again, it revolves around the truth.

In the end?

I end up discussing the mafia and shooting myself with a Lupara.

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Written by Bruce