As an institution, it’s no secret that we are data rich. From the moment we make contact with our audience we seek to track and understand their experience journey through data. We look at multiple touch points and sources whether it’s social media stats, website analytics, email open rates, ad clickthroughs, survey responses, etc.
And while we have great data…rarely do we have great insight.
What is ‘Insight’?
Right now, it’s an overused buzzword that every person in marketing is throwing around in an effort to wrap their head around what to do with all this data we have available.
Ok, maybe not, but there’s some truth to that. It doesn’t have to be just a word. It can be a real experience.
You first have to know what insight is not:
- Tidbit of info
- A singular observation
- Customer wish
Insight should feel brand new and lead to a deep understanding of something you didn’t know before.
Gary Klein in Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insights outlines a better definition of insight: “an unexpected shift in the way we understand things”.
Insights can also transform how we act, feel, see the world, and even our original goals or strategy. There’s even a formula to get the process started:
Super simple right? Just work on decreasing errors and increasing insights by looking for contradictions, connections, etc.
It’s unfortunately not that simple. Why? Because as humans we get in our way when it comes to developing insights. We have preconceived biases we sometimes can’t shake, we like the predictable, and we have a hard time admitting when we may be wrong about something.
It’s not a criticism, it’s human nature.
Get comfortable with discomfort
We often don’t like to get uncomfortable or do what may be considered ‘bold’ or ‘risky’ because we hide behind the mountain of data that tells us what we have been doing for so long is ‘working’.
We continue to get in our own way by not giving ourselves enough time to really step back and think about what the data means.
We spend too much time picking out the data points that support our original story because when we hear data or findings that matches what we already believe to be true, it actually makes us happy.
Stop. Doing. That.
What if you instead tried to understand the contradictions in the data? The things you don’t really believe to be true and explored those more? What if you instead decided to seek out connections in the higher education market with other markets outside higher-ed? What if you instead looked at brands that were once on the verge of being counted out completely and learned more about how they came back to life?
Without someone seeking connections, we wouldn’t have Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory. Without someone looking for contradictions, we wouldn’t have Albert Einstein’s work on the space-time continuum. And without acts of creative desperation, we wouldn’t have a technique trapped firefighters use where they ‘fight fire with fire’ to create an escape route.
The good news is: you don’t have to be a firefighter, Einstein, or Darwin to develop insight. Insight is not based on intelligence. It’s based on your willingness to get out of your way so you can seek to understand the reasons behind the great data you have. What makes insight different from knowledge is that insight should unlock an opportunity for your brand.
For insight to truly unlock an opportunity, you have to act on it
Getting to insight is hard work. However, the payoff of insight can do wonders for your brand, your marketing team, and your audience.
The question is: are you willing to get out of your own way to get to insight?