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How you can generate those AHA moments – Insight techniques explained

24th April 2018

Kevin Hearn

Director of Strategy

To truly understand the WHY, we need to use qualitative techniques that unpick customer needs.

When you work within any industry, debating and defining what it actually stands for is almost a rite of passage.

For example, a series of email exchanges recently within the team at Editions Financial trying to define ‘what is content’ generated about 20 different compelling responses that added to the debate, rather than providing a definite answer. Similarly, when I worked within research and insight agencies, there was almost endless navel gazing about ‘what is insight’ as a discipline?

However, when you don’t directly work in that sector there is a vagueness about terminology, particularly when I’ve been asked to ‘find some insight.’ This can mean anything from simply doing a quick Google search through to something as specific as doing some deep dive, exploratory qualitative exercise with hard-to-find audiences.

“Insight is a penetrating truth that unlocks opportunity and inspires the creation of content.”

Insight that informs content creation typically covers a wide range of research approaches involving fact-finding, reading secondary published reports and generally tracking trends. However, for something to be genuinely insightful it needs to make you sit up and take notice or, as Alan Partridge would say, provide an ‘Aha moment’ – metaphorically similar to the turning on of a light bulb and everything becoming clearer.

When expressed as a stand-alone statement an insight will contain three elements…

  • A truth – a resonating fundamental human truth.
  • A tension – a requirement to improve an existing situation.
  • A need – a desire for a specific product, benefit or piece of content.

As previously mentioned, all definitions of disciplines are inherently subjective, but for what it’s worth, the Editions Financial version is ‘a penetrating truth that unlocks opportunity and inspires the creation of content’.

So now that we know what an insight looks like, what techniques do we use to uncover one?

Our belief at Editions Financial is that the richest and deepest insights come from fusing together the widest range of different research sources, which would encompass desk research, social listening and primary research.

However, to truly understand the WHY and get the ‘Aha moment’, we need to use qualitative techniques that unpick customer needs.

The classic market research methodologies of:

  • Focus groups – typically six to eight people sitting in a room debating issues and the resonance of propositions.
  • Depth interviews – one-to-one discussions to get granular detail on an individual’s circumstances, in order to contextualise and understand their responses.

are often still the best way to understand the attitudes and existing behaviours of your target audience.

However, sometimes the penetrating truths and the sentiments behind the comments that reveal unmet needs requires more creative and immersive techniques. For example:

  • Observational and ethnographic research – going into a participant’s house or office and witnessing the unconscious behaviours that they wouldn’t necessary articulate.
  • Ideation sessions – bringing client stakeholders together with end-customers to roll up their sleeves and understand their requirements, before co-creating solutions together.
  • Mentor/mentee sessions – pairing consumers who have just experienced an event, for example purchasing a house or retiring, with people who are just on the cusp of undertaking that activity to discuss preconceptions against the reality.

We have also created a range of more bespoke Content research methodologies that can give us specific communication light-bulb moments, for example:

  • Content Recaller – emailing participants draft content designs and then following up with a phone call a couple of days later. We can then explore both what they can spontaneously implicitly remember about the communication, before explicitly testing recall against a number of key metrics.
  • Consumer Content Audits – conducting a comprehensive audit of all the different communications customers receive across different channels to determine which are achieving cut-through.

The wide range of techniques demonstrates that generating insights can be hard work, but we believe that that power of that ‘Aha moment’ will provide the pay-off in the longer-term creation of compelling content.

For help finding your ‘Aha moment’, get in touch with Editions Financial today.


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About the author

Kevin Hearn

Director of Strategy

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