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How Consumer Insights Can Turbo Charge Your Brand's Marketing To get the most from your advertising you need to first understand, in detail, the audience you're working to appeal to.

By Shannon McCoy Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Consumer insights are where user interest meets brand values. They are essentially the bridge between vital information and the creative team that will mold it into a successful advertisement. Every piece of data can spark an infinite number of ideas for creating a campaign. After all, it's useful to know that women feel naked without makeup when you're working with a cosmetics client, or that consumers find milk an essential part of their day, thanks to the famous "Got Milk?" ads.

Since these nuggets of knowledge can make or break the relevancy of an entire campaign, they should be handled in a precise manner. Here's how you can tackle the world of insights and come out with a successful marketing plan.

Before you begin

You can't just dive into the pile of data and hope to come out with a relevant fact or figure. There are a few things you need to establish first.

What is your main objective? Since different campaigns can accomplish various objectives, you'll need to figure out what the intentions of this campaign are: increase sales, boost brand advocacy, target a new demographic, etc.

What messaging are you aiming for? In order to make your campaign stand out from previous ones, consider the types of communication you will use to reach your objective. This includes everything from your voice to the statement you're making.

Whom will you target? Define your target beyond how they'll help you reach your objective. Questioning how to get them involved with your brand will be your key to campaign success.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can begin the fun part: research.

Related: Why Market Research Matters

Examine the current situation.

Now that you have a basic roadmap for your campaign, you'll need to dig deeper into industry trends, your target market, and how you stand against the competition. Discuss not only what worked in past promotions, but also how your customers will react to in your current marketing plan. If you need help, there are some great ways to figure these questions out:

Secondary Research. Look at past research to find out attitudes, values, current usage, purchase cycles, seasonality patterns, and other pieces of information that may be important to your strategy. To cut down on research cost, use government public sources or internal company data (if available). If money is less of an obstacle for you, try your hand at the valuable commercial sources — competitor report, online Encyclopedias such as Gale, local media outlets, and other fee associated resources.

Focus Groups. Gather your target audience and gain real-time responses about how they feel about your brand. The downside of this is that focus groups can be pretty costly, especially for the small collection of data you receive. To reduce this expense, consider involving low-cost members (college students, volunteers, etc.) or offering a cost effective incentive (donated event tickets or gift cards, the ever-popular free food tactic, the opportunity to enter an exclusive contest, or whatever creative way you can think of).

Surveys and interviews. The ease of online or offline surveys and interviews allows for a more direct sample. The downside is identifying outliers in your survey data, seeing what caused them, and deciding if you can remove anything that would skew your data otherwise. As long as you do your part to carefully design the structure of your survey questions and ask those questions consistently across each session, this shouldn't happen. Keep in mind that interviews are for exploring attitudes and are not synonymic to pure fact.

"Becoming" the consumer. Once you know a good chunk about the customer, shop around like they do. Note what you notice, what you're looking at/for, etc. These shopper insights will allow you to dive into how consumers think in action, but don't let your advertising bias get in the way of your observations.

These methods allow you to focus on identifying key attributes that help your product or service stand out. It will also aid you in getting to know your target consumer: their needs, their values, whether they prefer online or traditional print promotions, and what keeps them loyal to your brand.

Related: Market Research Has Lost Its Mojo. But Here's How It Can Get It Back.

Analyze the facts.

Now that you've got the data, it is time to decide how you're going to pursue a successful campaign.

Analyze your findings. What did your research discover? Decide what will be useful to your campaign objective.

Gather a SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a technique used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You can later reference this when making big campaign decisions.

Define your strategy. Look at your newly collected data and use it to determine your campaign strategy. Remember that evidence like observations and research should influence your decision-making, not personal feelings or assumptions.

Once you connect this all together, you've got insights to build a campaign around but don't stop at just one. After all, "a good idea can inspire a great commercial. But a good insight can fuel a thousand ideas, a thousand commercials."

So, go listen to your consumers! Make sure to let us know what they said and how they'll influence your future marketing.

Related: Add This Dimension to a Traditional Business Analysis for a Fuller Marketing Plan

Shannon McCoy

Digital Strategist

Shannon McCoy, otherwise known as the Dallas Ad Grad, is a digital strategist for Signazon. Shannon loves writing about social media, consumer behavior, advertising, and more! Feel free to connect with her on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn


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