When Strategy runs a new brief by you to ask for your direction and approval, how do you teach them what an insight is. They have one job.

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Thanks everyone, these notes were really helpful!

So I met with Strategy and asked them to simplify the brief to a one pager (from a 20 page Google Slides presentation padded out with images) and rewrite the proposition.

I said it shouldn’t just be a product feature. They had to think about the consumer benefit and come up with a human truth. I also wrote a bunch of examples of what the insight could be, based on their brief.

They were very grateful for the collaborative approach and came back with their own version. Now we have a nice short brief with two clear ways in for the team briefing.


Insights are ideas. Any good insight could be the campaign line. Don’t get Mad, get etrade. You’re not you when you’re hungry.


Let’s stop making it so confusing.

An insight is a deep truth. An idea comes *from* the insight.

Probably the best example of this is “Got Milk?”. The insight was discovered by the planner in a research session. An interviewee said she never thinks about milk at all, until she runs out, then she suddenly cares about it. That led to the Got Milk campaign idea of showing people in situations where they ran out of milk, then frantically wanted milk.


Far too many strategic planners accidentally mix up observations with insights. Here’s how I tell them the difference.

visible, measurable, data output.

invisible, not measurable, based on the psychology of the target.

An insight is an explanation of the target’s behavior, and answers the question “why” about 5 times in a row. A truth.

To find an insight, think like both Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud.

Not just any insight will do. A GOOD insight is a truth that is actionable. This is the tough part to explain.

An ACTIONABLE insight is one that can be used to help solve the target’s problem AND uses the product/service as a solution, AND solves the client’s problem AND inspires creative campaigns.


You throw in with them and help find it. Every role in the agency has multiple layers and challenges. The true value of the agency is when those different viewpoints truly collaborate. That’s where great — brilliant and effective — work comes from.


Ask them would what they have honestly inspire any great or unique work.


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