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Moments of Truth: The Insight Guru

This is the fifth in a series of cartoons by award-winning cartoonist Tom Fishburne, titled “Moments of Truth,” sponsored by Motista.

By Alan Zorfas

Insight Guru is my favorite Marketoon from Tom Fishburne on the subject of marketing’s “Moments of Truth.” Every aspect of the image and dialogue exposes truths that, on a normal day, we marketers simply accept as “the way it’s done.” (Minus the exaggeration.)

Here are my three critical comments about “how it’s done”:

  1. In an age where companies need to build more meaningful connections with consumers, we’re reminded just how precious and scarce insights into consumer motivation are within modern-day marketing departments;
  2. We’re reminded how attaining that intelligence is all too often dependent on outside expertise;
  3. We’re awakened to how business has so little information to explain one of its most valuable assets—the connections it builds with consumers—on hand…every day.

At a meeting I attended recently a marketing executive leaned over and remarked, “We’re just guessing most of the time, aren’t we?” Occasionally, maybe once or twice a year, we embark on a deep dive to unlock and untangle our consumers’ deepest motivations. Systematically, we conduct studies or monitor social media to hear what consumers “say” they want, like or dislike about our products or services. Most research engages the “conscious” mind of the consumer, asking them to report on their views and opinions. But what are they “really” buying—a chance to be more attractive? Feel younger? Gain more confidence? To penetrate the unconscious mind and go deeper, we hire an “insight guru,” and embark on a long and expensive process to find out what they really want.

As we call on outside experts to endow us with their wisdom, executives inside companies remain skeptical. In their data-driven world of decision-making, most executives don’t have the patience or capacity to understand or “buy in” to the value of connection. Marketers struggle to explain the learnings of these special projects and their implications for projected results. If we are entering something like “the connection economy,” doesn’t consumer connection have to be known and applied across the organization?

In this day and age, marketers and their colleagues need to be equipped with the capacity to understand and act on connection. If buy-in requires quantitative intelligence tied to business outcomes, so be it. Gurus, planners and specialists will still be called in for their specific expertise in order to go deeper, obtain more texture or to evolve campaign ideas. But, eventually, that information has to come back into the business conversation. And everyone who participates in that conversation needs to be able to walk away with a better understanding of consumer connection and how to apply it in support of the overall success of their business.

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