Category Archives: Insight

The Habits and Behaviours of Insightful People


We all know that great marketing starts with great insight so it’s important that we continue to sharpen and hone our insight generation skills. I love working with insightful people, the ones who have a knack of really being able to get to the heart of the matter and spot the real killer insights. So, what do they do well and what can we learn from them?

1 Keep Looking

Insightful people are great observers. They spot details. They see things others don’t see. They’re very aware of whats happening around them. They look at body language. They never turn off their insight antennae. Everything they see or hear is the source of a potential insight

2 Really Listen

Great listening sounds easy but it’s not. It means listening openly and attentively without trying to second guess what’s coming next. Insightful people stay engaged all the time. They have a habit of getting people to open up by listening without having any assumptions . They’re able to manage the thread of a discussion so that people continue to reveal their true feelings

3 Great Questioning

Hand in hand with attentive listening is being able to probe and ask the right kind of questions, without imposing your point of view, criticizing or judging. Insightful people ask questions that are open and exploratory. Occasionally they ask questions that are provocative in order to explore a hypothesis or test a point of view, but it always encourages an honest response

4 Empathise

in order to interpret what you’ve discovered you need to see the situation from the other person’s perspective, rather than purely your own. Insightful people are able to place themselves in the other person’s world so they can really make sense of what emerges rather than feel confused or surprised about what they see or hear.

5 Dig Deep

To get true insight, you need to keep exploring. Insightful people don’t settle for just the surface understanding. When they find something out that appears interesting they keep pushing and keep probing to get a deeper understanding.

6 Be Thorough

Insight people have great analytical skills. They talk to lots of people. They don’t jump to conclusions on the basis of flimsy information. They read data and look to spot patterns and make sense of the facts.

7 Project Forward

Insight is only useful what it can be applied to your business. Insightful people are always aware of the implications of what they’ve discovered and how it can be applied. Whenever they discover something they’re always projecting forward and thinking – is this helpful or useful?

These are the habits and behaviours of insightful people that I’ve observed. What’s your perspective?


How Do You Spot a Great Insight?

We all understand that uncovering a deep consumer insight is essential to delivering great marketing strategy and activities. They’re like gold. We spend huge amounts of time and energy searching for them but how do you know when you’ve found one? Here’s a few pointers.

1. Does it tap into a universal human truth?

Great insights display a deep understanding of what makes people tick, what motivates and inspires them. For example the P&G ‘Proud Sponsors of Mums’ Campaign reflects the joys, hopes and challenges of motherhood. The Lynx / Axe brand taps into the young adolescent obsession with the opposite sex. They’re often timeless and broad in their appeal but because of this, your consumers can truly identify with them and they can become the basis of a long term strategy.


2. Does it go beyond the obvious?

We often confuse a ‘fact’ with an insight and use the word ‘insight’ too liberally. Facts are observable, numerous and can be accessed by anybody. If you look at an insight statement and it’s too simplistic and ‘well known’ then it’s probably not an insight i.e. its a fact. Look to interpret the facts and explore what’s beneath the surface. That’s where the answer lies. A great insight needs to be simply expressed, but it shouldn’t be simplistic in its meaning.

3. Does it feel fresh?

A great insight provides you with a fresh perspective on a task or a market  you’ve been grappling with. This is where your judgement and experience comes into play. If you think ‘I’ve never heard that before’, then you’re probably in fertile territory. I remember when the Persil / Omo team came up with their insight around encouraging children’s creativity and learning which underpinned their ‘Dirt is Good’ Campaign. At the time it was a very fresh, counter-intuitive approach to the category. Also when the Wii was first launched it looked at gaming in a new way, by addressing the need for family togetherness.


4. Does it feel distinctive?

A great insight doesn’t necessarily need to be truly original. For example the Persil / Omo insight  around children’s creativity has been used by both Lego and Huggies in very different categories. Therefore, don’t be afraid to appropriate other brand or category  insights as long as they’re not used by your competitors. If your insight simply mimics what your direct competitors are using, then it’s going to be hard to say something new and distinctive.

5. Does it feel actionable?

If you can’t do anything with it, then it’s no good to you – even if it’s a great insight. After you’ve written the insight, if ideas of how you might deliver against it start coming to mind straight away, then it’s likely you’re onto something exciting. It’s much better to have an ok insight that’s actionable, than a great insight that you can’t do anything with. I think the Amazon Lockers respond to a fairly obvious insight around the issue around not being at home when parcels are delivered. However, the important thing is that they did something about it.


So…the search for the elusive insight never ends. Ask yourself these questions and you’ll know when you’ve stuck gold.