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Being Insightful: A How-To Guide

Originally published

February 24, 2021

Written by

Sounds easy, right? It is! Here’s the thing about insight. It sounds rarified and even magical, and that’s because it is.

You don't have to be a genius (in fact, one of my best early lessons, imparted by actual genius Brandon Geary, is that while marketers absorb an unspoken message that our job is to be the smartest person in the room, that’s actually NOT valuable--it’s simply being helpful that matters).

But you do need to create insights. Not once a year, but every day. Here’s how:

1️ Think associatively to find observations others miss.

What's true about the culture that might say something about your product? What do customers care about that you do too, entirely separately from your product? Find common themes from different domains. Find disparate themes in shared domains.

2️ Always ask WHY, and embrace speculation.

Try the "5 whys" technique from Journalism 101. Go deeper, and force yourself to stretch past obvious answers, knowing you might be wrong. Sometimes, you’ll just be wrong, and other times, you’ll find gold.

3️ Learn from the outliers.

Any old machine, or machine-like human, can spot trends. Trendspotting is overrated! Try doing the opposite, and understand what makes the exceptions unique.

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, last updated on

February 24, 2021

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