Strategic insights. A fundamental structural pillar of marketing and communications. The keys to unlocking greater understanding of your customer base and gaining an advantage in the marketplace. The crystal ball which illuminates the darkness and reveals all secrets of the inner workings of your industry. Or is it? According to Mercer Island Group, a top agency search firm that works with some of the world’s largest brands, a strategic insight is “a penetrating truth that elevates strategy, enabling highly differentiated tactics.” So yeah, crystal ball.
In more down-to-earth terms, strategic insights are common patterns discovered through research and data analysis. These patterns and commonalities give your team the knowledge to improve your products/services, formulate new solutions, and identify new opportunities or untapped market segments. In a Nutshell: Every business/organization needs strategic insights to survive. What Do Strategic Insights Provide Your Business? 1. Current customer understanding
2. Competitive advantage
3. Trend mapping 4. Performance optimization
5. Future planning
6. Decision making
All great things. Unfortunately, obtaining and understanding strategic insights can be like a scene out of A Beautiful Mind. A long stormy voyage that will leave you mentally drained and muttering to yourself between sips of coffee as you decipher endless data-points until you’ve completely lost the point of the mission. Your inbox will become a nest of spam from all of the “free” e-book and case study downloads. The next leadership meeting will feel more like the Davinci Code than a productive day at the office. In a Nutshell: Strategic Insights can be a rabbit hole Before you begin this expedition to El Dorado, it’s important to know that “strategic insights” is an umbrella term for many subsets of research and data. What Creates Strategic Insights? 1. Brand insights
2. Consumer insights
3. Competition insights
4. Present insights
5. Future insights
6. Community insights
7. Product insights
8. Environmental insights
9. Political insights
10. Market insights
…and many more. As you can see, just scratching the surface produces more avenues of discovery than one team can effectively follow. It’s enough to send anybody off to sticky-sock summer camp. However, as previously stated, every business/organization needs strategic insights to survive. So how do you navigate your way into actionable insights and live to tell the tale? Start With The Basics Once you’ve established a strong bedrock of insightful understanding it will become your anchor for future research and data gathering. Before we move on to the future and predictions, let’s start with the present. 1. Identify your current customers. Collect as much demographic/psychographic data as you ethically can about your current customers. How do you do that? You go to the source. Send out surveys to collect information. Use social media to look into who your customers are and what they share/react to. Use your internal records. Put on your FBI jacket and get to work discovering who these people are. 2. Identify your ideal customers. These might already be the same as your current customers. If so, then job well done. If you have your eyes on a different segment of customers then repeat the above process with this new audience segment. 3. Calculate, Compare, Catalog What are the similarities and differences between these two segments? Are you noticing any patterns? The gaps between these data sets will become the starting points for many statistical inquiries in the future but for now just identifying and cataloging them will provide you a benchmark. Ask A Question Now that you have an anchor of data to work from, you can ask a more specific question to gather insight. For example, “Why aren’t more people clicking through from our website homepage to our contact page?” Thankfully, we already know who your current customers are. Now we need to use insights to discover why these potential customers are not acting in the way you wish they would. Using more data collection from your website traffic sources you can discover who is visiting your homepage. Are those data sets consistent with your audience analysis? If not, then why is that the case? If they are, then what is preventing them from reaching the contact page? One question leads to more questions but it’s important to define the objective of discovery to guide your search. Otherwise you could spend an eternity rolling the stone of possibilities up a steep hill. Leave A Trail The first time you venture into the wilderness of strategic insights there might not be any indication of where to go. It’s just you and your machete, chopping through the brush in the dark. However, it shouldn’t be that way again. As you collect data and create conclusions, diligently map your progress every step of the way. Create a log of your actions and their results. You’re a trailblazer. This will allow future strategists and other members of your team to reach new actionable insights much faster in the future. Have you ever had a great idea but forgot to write it down? Yeah. Don’t make that mistake here. Propose A Solution Strategic insights without attached solutions might as well be bathroom reading material. Nothing more than a fun-fact to be forgotten by lunch time or destined to rot away unopened in an inbox. Action! That’s what you need to propose after you’ve identified your insights. Expanding on the example from above, let’s say you found through your research that the audience segments visiting your website were 70% different from your current or ideal customers. The proposed solution could be that the website doesn’t necessarily need to be changed but your traffic sources are sending the wrong prospects. Conversely, maybe the traffic is a match to your current/ideal customer segments so the problem is within the website. From your research you know that 85% of your customers prefer browsing on mobile devices but your contact page is difficult to find when using the website on a smartphone. Solution: test moving that contact button to a different spot and see what happens to the clickthrough percentage.
Scratching The Surface
This starter guide is only the first step on a 1,000 mile journey. Take this with you, traveler. Strategic insights having many divergent pathways and liminal hallways ahead for you to discover. If putting together insight analysis is making your head spin, just know that you are not alone. It’s a never ending exercise that requires resources and relentless dedication. However, when done right you will be able to show that it was time well spent because it all pays off in the end.
For assistance on your strategic insight quest, reach out to us at www.6fimedia.com