And your POINT is?


Five years. That’s how long I’ve been writing this blog.


Post 1 was on 12 May 2016. It was called 'Who needs 'NEED insight'?' I had a plan, but as someone once said: "Companies with five year plans are doomed."


So what have I been doing all this time? Turns out there have been ten themes. Here they are in reverse order:


10. ADVERTISING TODAY. 3 posts, all at the start of last year. Then I found out George Tannenbaum had written 6,000 posts on the subject. Best to leave it to him.


9. WRITING ABOUT WRITING. Stephen Fry said columnists can get away with this once in their careers. I’ve done it 6 times, including this one. Sorry.


8. NEED INSIGHT. The original plan. As I wrote in that first post: "I’m going to take a different need each time. I’ll bring it to life as best I can and then show what an insight into that need could be." I managed 8 posts on this, ironically a typical number of needs on a Need Map. But once you’ve been round the wheel once, you’re kind of done.


7. COVID. Posts 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96 and 97. I forced myself in Post 93 to write about a film, but it was The Blair Witch Project. Oh, and Post 110 to celebrate Lockdown 3.


6. ME. Every now and then (10 times in fact) I’ve written about me. Or my family. Or friends. A couple of times, the political or social issue of the moment. I think I shared too much when I admitted not putting the numbers back on our front door for 2 years. They’re still not back up. This is so embarrassing.


5. MARKETING TRIBES. 11 posts. I sometimes call the setting for this the Brandlands and, for some reason, I make it like the Wild West. Out there are all the big guns - Ritson, Sinek, Vee, Sharp, Godin, Sutherland, Trott, Hoffman. And Bernbach, of course. I end with a couple of lines from that old campfire song from way back when:


Badlands, you gotta live it every day / Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay

We’ll keep pushing till it’s understood / And these badlands start treating us good


Which brings us onto…


4. FILMS & SONGS. So, so often (13 times, in fact), they’re my hunting ground for insights. My crowning glory was turning the line-up in The Usual Suspects into a post called 'Who killed brand LOYALTY?'. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.


And that’s half the posts.


Here is the Top 3 for the other half.


3. THE PITCH. 17 times I’ve managed, one way or another, to make it about Closer to Brands, all the way through to my beliefs about brands. What are they, you might ask. And it would be a good question, which I really should answer:


Brands have to make an emotional connection.

Brand choices are driven by people’s deeper needs.

All brands need a positioning.

Insights need tension.

Be noticed, be remembered.


2. SHOW DON’T TELL. And 20 times I’ve remembered to illustrate the point I’m making. It started with a post about Felix cat food called 'INSIGHT without an insight', which is still my highest number of clicks on LinkedIn. I know that’s a rubbish KPI but boy, did it make me feel good.


And what’s at the top? When Mark Ritson does this, it’s always brand size. Small brands generally stay small. Ah, well.


Anyway, the answer is…


1. MARKETING THEORY. I know, ridiculous. 22 posts on how we do what we do. There should have been one killer piece that absolutely nailed it. But you get pulled this way by the Evidencers and that way by the Purposes and this way by the Biases and that way by the Trads. Plus those Digitals are everywhere. And it all messes with your head. So you write it down, often in real time as you think it through and try to work it all out. After all, you have to discover an insight, so you need to move. And it’s harder to hit a moving target.


So that’s it. I talk about the theory, I show some examples and I sneak in a pitch.


But what’s the real point of this blog? What’s my insight?


Keep on writing, I suppose.

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NEED insight

by RICHARD BROWN

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