The strongest strategy does not evolve without a powerful insight to lead it, and robust research backing it up. Anthropologists in B2B marketing spend hours with decision-makers in the B2B world, speaking to them about their worlds. They also observe their workplaces, how they engage with products and the social dynamics between the client (sales) and their client (the ‘buyer’).

While today there is material that explains what an insight is, very little of it explains how you get to one, or just how daunting the task can be.

As anthropology is a descriptive human science that uses detail and subjectivity to understand people, culture or dynamics, anthropologists are in a great position to illuminate the world of the target market. However, even the greatest researcher can be useless if they cannot distill their work and leverage all this information.

Here are five tips on how to identify an 'insight':

1. Be aware

There are many types of insights. There are psychological insights that reference what people are feeling on an unspoken but emotional or psychological level. There are also cultural insights that dictate why certain rituals, practices or social norms have come to have power. And finally, there are behavioral insights that provide a compelling understanding of why and how people do the things they do.

This list is not exhaustive, nor are the types/kinds of insights closed — as most of the human world, they are messy and can overlap or reference more than one aspect of human existence. Remember that what you came to find will greatly influence how you perceive what you find.

2. Immerse yourself

You need to spend time in field. You need to speak to people, ask difficult questions and shadow them. You need to be a stalker, an empath and incredibly curious and detail-oriented.

The discipline of anthropology teaches you to deeply immerse yourself in the world of the target market — this means using all your senses (all 21 of them) to become present. Document everything.

3. Make sense of the data

After the many hours immersed in your target’s world, collecting ‘thick/rich’ data and compiling archives of transcriptions, photos and maps, you can begin to ‘sensemake’ the data.

Sensemaking is a fancy term for trying to understand the way the world works for the consumer. This means a second immersion — but this time, you deep dive into your data.

In this second immersion, you should identify fragments of knowledge, critical moments, meaningful observations and times when you felt confused or emotional. Your subjectivity is part of the sensemaking process, and digging deeper into why both your target market (and you) felt or acted the way you did.

4. Start your insight beating

The word ‘beating’ is used because identifying an insight is a process of pain, growth and discomfort. This part requires an ability to locate contradictory or compelling tensions.

It involves long working sessions of picking up and dropping ideas until you feel yourself seeing the bigger picture. Often, you know you have an insight when you literally feel it.

Insight is just a new perspective, and there is a feeling that accompanies this new realisation. You should feel the ‘a-ha’ — that tiny surge of positivity or optimism in your body that clicks the argument into place.

5. Land it

Once you finally have the insight, you can backtrack and build the stories that got you to it. This involves using evidence (quotes, images, stories or observations) to lay out the landscape and set up the tension through contradictory or deepening information that describes and isolates the problem.

This should set you up to reveal the insight. The insight should solve the tension. It should explain what people are feeling or being motivated by on a very deep level. It also should provide a fresh, informed and vigorous angle on the problem.

At this point, you have shared knowledge. You have taken a lot of information, unpacked and challenged it, and then you have synthesised it in such a way that has a purpose.

Whatever industry you work in, being insightful is as valuable as having experience. If you can be comfortable in the diversity of experiences people have, you will be well-poised to shape and locate insights. Within our vast continent, there are a wealth of insights waiting to be uncovered and leveraged in meaningful ways.

With a strong insight, a campaign can go from being a communication effort to a truly reciprocal experience for both the buyer and the brand. Brands evolve when they truly understand their market.

Equipped with a good insight, you can help your client solve a real problem that often has nothing to do with the product, but everything to do with the buyer’s world. Unsurprisingly, highly connected buyers are the most valuable ones.

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*Image courtesy of Vecteezy