Sr. Director, Marketing and Operations
A successful marketing or branding campaign accomplishes two things: it moves the needle on your business objectives, and it does so in a way that resonates with your consumers. Whether you’re making creative, media purchasing or product decisions, your journey begins with collecting and analyzing data, then translating these findings into useful consumer insights.
Valuable research often sits idle because it hasn’t been properly interpreted. Or, it hasn’t been disseminated to the right teams – in the right way – to make a meaningful impact on their creative choices.
Insights are the beats of the story surrounding your customers. Uncover this story and you know the contextual “why” centered at the root of your customers’ actions and perceptions, which should in turn form the foundation of every creative decision.
Creative teams naturally possess a strong sense of imagination and willingness to explore ideas from multiple angles. This mental exploration is crucial to generate fresh ideas. However, in order for creatives to generate effective work for your campaign, they must operate under some level of creative constraint. Consumer insights are the very type of helpful constraints that immediately narrow the scope of exploration to focus on meaningful customer truths.
Ironically, these very constraints provide the most valuable springboard to generate ideas that address true marketplace gaps and resonate with your consumers.
How to use consumer insights to draft a productive creative brief
Your creative brief is the culmination of your insight collection. After all, the reason to learn more about your consumers is to be able to message to them more effectively. Brilliant creative can emerge from a lackluster brief, but a vague brief makes the process more arduous for creative teams, as well your evaluation process.
It’s more effective to draft a brief that generates excitement and provides rich creative possibilities for exploration. Here’s how to approach your next brief:
- Go beyond bullet points to tell a compelling story revealing who your customers are, what’s important to them, and the role your product plays in their lives. All this contextual information provides a rich creative sandbox for creative teams to begin sculpting fresh ideas, rooted in reality.
- Prioritize your consumers’ reasons to believe. Your creative teams will not know which drivers carry the most weight unless you tell them. Use insights collected from your qualitative research to determine the drivers that are most important to your consumers. Then, use quantitative techniques to rank each in order of importance. This knowledge will ensure your in-house or agency creatives focus on the right things.
- Share consumers’ insights in their own words. Use quotes from in-depth interviews or produce a video super-cut to provide your creative teams access to the language and tone your consumers use when discussing your product or category. A seemingly offhand remark can spark a breakthrough campaign.
- Include data metrics but be sure to explain in plain language what this information means. Remove ambiguity or potential misinterpretations of the data by translating empirical findings into powerful consumer insights conveying the bottom line.
- Avoid telling your creative teams exactly what to make. Instead, offer insight-based direction to deliberately focus their work around your audience’s actions, interests, and emotional set-point. Choose your words carefully to make sure you’re communicating clearly.
Using consumer insights to move forward with creative
Once you receive versions of your new campaign, box design, or logo concept, it can be daunting to determine which is the best choice to advance to the next round. If all the options are fantastic, you may have difficulty choosing. If all the options are falling flat, it might be a challenge to articulate why. This is another point at which consumer insights can provide useful guidance.
- Go back to the brief. When evaluating work, compare it against your creative brief. How many points does this creative hit? Is it focusing on the most important things? If creative executions are falling short, review the brief with your creative teams and discuss any divergence, misinterpretation, or lack of clarity.
- Use insights to support your decisions when sharing with the rest of your team. Demonstrating the connection between consumer insight and final creative provides justification for your choices and removes uncertainty for stakeholders who may not have been involved in the decision-making process.
- Test further. Research should not exist solely on a project’s front-end. Once you have a few test concepts or sample executions in-hand, go back and conduct even more research. At this point, quantitative research methods might be most helpful. Techniques like ranking preferences and facial coding can reveal which elements of your creative stand out and which are falling flat. This research provides valuable evidence to support the final leg of decision-making.
Market research is the bridge between your customer and your brand’s decisions. Translating consumer insights into a useful creative roadmap helps your in-house team or agency partners – as well as those in charge of evaluating creative output – make decisions from a place of confidence, not blind faith.