[Podcast] How to Uncover Genuine Insights with Chris Kocek

[Podcast] How to Uncover Genuine Insights with Chris Kocek

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Tune in as we explore the transformative role of insights in branding and marketing with subject matter expert, Chris Kocek.

Our conversation begins with Kocek sharing his journey and the motivation behind his new book, “Any Insights Yet?”, which aims to revolutionize our understanding of insights in business.

sponsored message

Adobe Creative Cloud Discount

Kocek delves into the essence of what constitutes a true insight, differentiating it from mere observations, data, and trends. He emphasizes the rarity and power of genuine insights, providing examples to illustrate his points.

Our discussion further explores effective strategies for uncovering insights, including helpful data points and methods to bring order to the often chaotic process of insight discovery.

Plus, practical advice on presenting insights to clients, ensuring they are impactful and persuasive.

Tune in and uncover genuine insights.

Listen Here

Love the show? Please review us on Apple

sponsored message


Play Now


Watch on Youtube


Learn Brand Strategy

Best Brand Strategy Course Online

sponsored message

Brand Master Secrets helps you become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees. And in my opinion, this is the most comprehensive brand strategy course on the market.

The course gave me all the techniques and processes and more importantly… all the systems and tools I needed to build brand strategies for my clients.

This is the consolidated “fast-track” version to becoming a brand strategist.

I wholeheartedly endorse this course for any designer who wants to become a brand strategist and earn specialist fees.

Check out the 15-minute video about the course, which lays out exactly what you get in the Brand Master Secrets.

Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Welcome to another episode of JUST Branding, where we delve into the world of brand creativity and transforming businesses. Today, we’re honored to have a distinguished guest who has not only cracked the code of insights, but has made it his mission to demystify the entire process. Imagine a world where insights are not just elusive, but a tangible force that can catapult your brand to new heights.

Our guest today, Chris Kocek, is an innovative branding and marketing expert who’s mastered the art of connecting the dots, creating new categories and transforming businesses. Chris’ new book, Any Insights Yet, is set to revolutionize how we approach insights in the realms of business and marketing, and we’re excited to discuss this today. So get ready to gain a deeper understanding of the power of insights and how they can be harnessed to grow brands.

So without further ado, let’s dive into this conversation with the brilliant Chris Kocek. So Chris, before we jump into the media insights, can you share a little bit about you, your story, anything else you want to share?

Yeah, I mean, I guess I got, you know, I got started. I got lucky. I got started at BBDO New York.

That was my first agency job coming out of graduate school.

What was the job?

Behavioral planning. So their planning department was called behavioral planning at the time. I’m not sure what it is now, but the department director was Tracy Lovatt.

I like to say I owe just about everything to her in my advertising career because she took a gamble on me. Because I didn’t have any advertising experience prior to that, which is pretty common, I guess, for some strategists. So I started there, worked on brands like Lowe’s, Home Improvement, Hyatt Hotels, the Christopher Nenarive Foundation and several others.

And then I got recruited by GSDNM in Austin a few years later. And my wife said, I like the weather better in Austin than in the Northeast.

And you’re still there now?

So moved out to Austin, worked on brands like John Deere, Ace Hardware, and many others. And then when my daughter was about nine months old, I said, I’m going to try and start my own thing. So I started Gallant Branding.

And about that same time, a couple other things happened that were really important. One was I got invited to give a TEDx talk about creativity. And then I also had my first book come out, which was The Practical Pocket Guide to Account Planning.

Amazing. Great to have you on, Chris. Like so many things that I’m looking forward to picking your brains on.

So it’s an honor to interview you. Thanks for being part of our show.

sponsored message

Thanks for having me.

So Insights, that’s the topic today. They come a little bit everywhere. Everyone talks about them in business, in marketing, in branding.

Your term has come a little bit overused. Some could say it’s a buzzword. So could you share your definition of what an insight is and why you think it’s become a buzzword?

Yeah. I mean, I usually like to start from a place of what it’s not. So even the word to define something, it comes from the Latin, which means to set a boundary or set a limit, right?

The word define. And so starting with the boundaries, what an insight is not is actually one of my favorite places to start, because a lot of times people will say, oh, I’ve got an insight and they really just mean a data point, right? But when you stop and think about like, what makes people want to lean in more, right?

If you get together and say, hey, thanks for coming to this briefing. I have a data point to share. Or if you say, thanks for coming to this briefing, I have an insight I want to share.

So people are going to lean in because it sounds deeper. It sounds different. It sounds sexy, more exciting to say, I have an insight.

But a lot of times, you know, there’s a lot of confusion because people should be saying, I have a data point or I have three data points, or I have an observation, right? I had an observation the other day while I was in the store about some human behavior. But again, that’s not as exciting as saying, guys, I have an insight to share.

So I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s proliferated, is it sounds better to say, I have an insight. But at the end of the day, an insight is not a single data point. It’s not a single human truth, in my opinion, okay?

I’m sure there are people who will disagree with this, but it’s not a trend report. It’s not, you know, just something that’s one thing. An insight is not one thing.

It is the collection of many things coming together, kind of mashing up as if it, you know, were rammed together like in a hadron collider of things, okay? So my definition, I like to use a metaphor. I say an insight is a constellation of all of these things.

sponsored message

It’s a constellation of data points, human truths, trends. Sometimes I’ll even say it’s, you know, your dreams, neuroses, different things that kind of come together and form this constellation that gives your brand direction, gives you, you know, the ability to come up with a new business model, a new product, a new service, a new innovative direction for a campaign. So simply put, it’s a constellation of all those things.

A lot to take in there. How do I put this? Someone’s like, I have an insight, but you’re like, that’s not an insight.

What are the characteristics of like, that you would define as like, that’s a true insight? How would you know that?

Well, first, it’s a delicate subject. So you got to be delicate, right? If someone says, I have an insight, I wouldn’t start out by saying, that’s not an insight.

That’s a data point, right?

If you hit one of those red buttons, then ta-da!

That’s right. So I think that, you know, a true insight, you’ve got to reframe the situation. So one of the characteristics of a true insight is you’re reframing the situation away from something that’s obvious.

There’s a lot of common cultural wisdom, right? A lot of common expressions that we have in the culture and a lot of things that we see, people are time poor. That’s true, the world over, everybody’s busy, everybody’s time poor.

Okay, so that’s an observation. It’s an interesting one, but we know that. What’s our twist on that?

What are we going to do with that and twist it around to come up with something different? So data can be the beginning of an insight. It can be the first step or the first star in the constellation.

Hey, I’ve got this really interesting data point. It makes me wonder this, this and this, right? So data can kind of kick you off down the road, but I like to also think of insights as something that we build, right?

So just like a constellation is something that you build, you connect the dots. So you build an insight and in that way, it’s a very iterative process. It’s very collaborative.

And another characteristic is a true insight should be able to connect the dots in a way no one’s ever connected them before, right? So that gives you something new, something fresh to think about. It also has to connect with what your brand has to offer.

So Tracy, as I was mentioning at BBDO, she would often say, and forgive the bad British accent, but she would say, well, I think we’re looking for insights that are useful, not just interesting, right? So there are a lot of interesting insights, but they have to be useful to your brand. If you can’t connect it back to your brand’s value proposition or your brand’s strengths, then it’s not going to be particularly effective and you need to move on.

And I would say most importantly, an insight has to inspire action, right? If it just sits there and it falls flat, then it’s probably not a good enough insight at this point. It may be an insight, but it might not be strong enough.

Maybe it’s not articulated in a way that is exciting the people around you. And so the articulation point is really, really important for insights. You’ve got to get it to that billboard, you know, 10 words or fewer kind of place.

Well, that kind of leads into what makes a really powerful insight. It connects with brands, it’s new, it’s fresh, it’s useful, you know, but like what’s like the quintessential insight for you?

So, I mean, I think that the thing about that is it’s a little bit like a knock-knock joke without the setup. I can give you an insight, right? Like stains, stains.

This is one of the examples in the book, but stains speak louder than words. Well, what’s the context for that? Right.

Obviously, we’re talking about stains as the category, but we’re talking about stains on your carpet, stains on your shirt. Maybe that doesn’t matter, right? But there’s a short one.

Another example from the book is, you know, if it takes a thousand words to describe your problem, right, then why not start every project with a picture, right? So for home improvement, if you think about home improvement projects, you know, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? So you often have that idea.

Well, why don’t we just start every project off with a picture? Why are we going into situations where people are saying, you know, oh, I need this whatchamadoo, I need this thingamabobber, right? Like these are nonsense words that people use when they go into a home improvement store, right?

I mean, that right there is the beginning of an insight. That’s not the total insight there. But again, like looking at language and, you know, how people are using language can be, again, a first step.

But if I don’t give you that background, if I don’t give you the setup to get there, like a knock-knock joke or any sort of joke, then it doesn’t quite have the same punch. So I can give you, you know, another one. Cats, not dogs, are man’s best friend.

There you go. There’s an insight. That makes you kind of lean in a little bit and say, why do you say that?

Right? Why is that true? I mean, we’ve always heard that dogs are man’s best friend.

So why are you saying cats are man’s best friend? So, well, we’ve got some research, we’ve got some data, we’ve got these other things, and then that gets people to lean in a little bit more. So, I mean, you know this, working with Jerry Seinfeld.

Yes. I wasn’t that much of a strategist back then, but it was definitely a lean-in moment, that’s for sure. So, we’ve talked about definitions and what makes a powerful insight, but how do we actually uncover these insights or build, as you say?

You know, there are several techniques. Some of my favorites, one of them is keep asking why, right? So, if you’ve ever had a conversation with a five-year-old, you know that they know how to ask why incessantly, right?

They take nothing for granted. They don’t take the first answer that you give them because they don’t know the rules. So, they just keep asking why.

You know, there are fun ways to ask why. But at the end of the day, we’re just trying to understand why do we do what we do? Why do people do what they do?

Or why are things the way they are? So, there are funny ways of asking this question.

Right? You’re either overwhelmed or underwhelmed. Why do I never feel the right amount of whelmed?

So, that’s where language and even asking the question why, it sounds almost just humorous, like it’s a joke. But there are, so there’s the funny side of asking why, then there’s the more serious side of asking why, which was a great question from Sasha Meyer over at Mamava. So, Mamava are these lactation pods, these little suites, if you’ve been to any airports in the US and even some internationally over the past, I don’t know, five years, it’s a place where women and men, but mostly women, will be going to nurse their infants and or pump instead of in a bathroom stall, which is where a lot of women until recently, and maybe in some cases still do, will go nurse an infant.

So, she looked at that situation and she said, why is that? Why are women retreating to bathroom stalls to pump or nurse their babies? And then she asked a more personal question of herself, which was, why are these women who are so visible to me, so invisible to everybody else?

Why is breastfeeding technology or breast pumping technology, why is it in black all the time, as though it’s trying to be hidden, as though it’s something to hide or put away? So she asked all those questions. She came up with an answer, and that ended up leading to mama-va.

And the answer that she came up with was, through observations, research data and so many things, was that the society up until that point was primarily designed by men, and men wanted this side of life to be invisible. So she wanted to do the opposite. She said, let’s make it as visible as possible, but in a branded way with these lactation pod sweets.

So it can seem like a joke to just say, well, just keep asking why. Have fun with that. But there are some very serious things that can come out of asking why and not accepting the very first answer that you’re given.

To unravel that, right? So how, in that kind of scenario, when would you say there’s like an insight versus an observation? It was like, oh, this is all hidden.

Like where is this insight coming from and how are those dots being connected?

So there were multiple parts to it. So she actually had the idea for the lactation pod, you know, almost like six or seven or more years ago. She was thinking about it maybe even long before that, actually, maybe closer to 10 years ago.

But she started to see all these other dots connecting in terms of, for example, people on social media. So social media wasn’t as big, let’s say 10 years ago. And there weren’t all of these selfie videos of moms in bathroom stalls saying, look at this, look at this situation.

You wouldn’t prepare any other food in a bathroom stall, yet I’m preparing a meal for my child in a bathroom stall. So that became a little bit more of an open, highly visible thing where more people were seeing this and saying, hey, something’s not right here. We need to do something about this.

Another one in terms of connecting the dots was, at least in America, the Obamacare, the legislation, created an impetus, a driving force for working moms, nursing moms, things like that, to have privacy or space or time or things like that from the Family Medical Leave Act as it pertained to that. So there were these connections in society through social media, through legislation and through these other places, and she came in and said, here’s a solution. Here’s my solution to all of these things that are starting to come together.

But up until that point, there were a lot of dots. They just weren’t connected. And Mamavac kind of connected them all together and said, Here’s a solution.

So that’s the consternation you talk about, like the multiple dots converging in a way that’s valuable and useful to the brand pushing itself forward. Is that, have I got that about right in terms of the thinking? So would you agree, Chris, that you can’t easily get a good insight from one datapoint, or do you, like what’s your thoughts on that?

Like how many datapoints do you think that you require before you can come up with something that’s really helpful and validated as an insight?

And I think that one datapoint can start to be the kernel of an insight, right? So it needs, but it needs to pop. It needs to come beyond that, because anybody can get access to the same data, usually.

Oh, right. I mean, you might have a proprietary survey or do some research that, you know, nobody else would have thought of, you know, to get an answer for something, but one datapoint by itself isn’t going to probably rock the world. So you need that.

And then again, you need to connect it to these other things. And sometimes, this is where big data can come into play. There might be a datadot that’s like way out here, off in left field, right?

And you don’t think that that’s connected to anything. But if you look at it a little bit more closely and then you tie it in with these other things, you say, wait a minute, this isn’t an outlier. This is actually a major piece to this whole situation.

So I think that, again, it is that combination. Each one of those things though, like, hey, here’s a human truth that we’ve never looked at before, right, in quite this way. That can be the beginning of it, but without the articulation, without the connection to other things, then people might just say, well, that’s just one observation, back it up with something.

So you need to have multiple data points to back up your personal observation, right?

No, great. I’ve got another quick question, if you don’t mind, and that is, so where are you getting this data from, do you think, as, you know, when we think about brands, like there’s multiple places we could glean it from, but where are your sort of go-to data points? Is it market research?

Is it surveys? Is it customer interviews? Like what are your views on, you know, the most helpful of data points, if we can call it that?

Yeah, well, it’s all of the above, but my favorite, my personal favorite is consumer interviews. I mean, talking to people firsthand, getting away from the computer for a second, seeing people, I mean, it sounds like we’re talking about a zoo, but seeing people in their natural environment, okay, and doing what they do, that is a better predictor of future behavior, right? Than just talking to someone and getting answers in a survey.

People are always going to put their best foot forward. So you’ve got to figure out ways to get around their little white lies, right? And so you’ve got to ask them questions, sometimes unexpected questions.

I remember we were working with, it seems like all the brands I’m gonna reference today have to do with babies and moms, but I have others, but there’s a brand that we were working on for Gallant Branding, where the founders had made this baby food that you could mix with breast milk. And they said, hey, that’s innovative, that’s different, nobody’s done that, it’s full of vitamins and nutrients, and let’s go ahead and do that. And we were talking to moms and they were saying, well, first of all, why would I do that?

Why would I impurify my breast milk with some other thing and mix it all up? Doesn’t the breast milk have all the nutrients my baby needs? So that was one question that came out of it.

But also moms, they would say, oh, I buy only the best for my baby or for my kids. I always buy organic. And we were doing like friends and family focus groups.

So we’d say, oh, really, do you mind if we have a look in the pantry? See what you’ve got in there. And it wasn’t to try to have a gotcha moment or anything like that, but there’s goldfish, there’s other processed foods.

And well, do your kids, do your little kids eat those? Oh, I give them to them a snack sometimes. But I thought you just said you only give the best organic stuff to your babies, right?

So you’ve got to go in there and say, okay, well, wait a minute, I guess there’s a light switch in people’s heads for when they go organic and when they don’t. We have these little rules inside of our heads that we don’t even know are there. And so our job is to kind of uncover what are the contexts or situations when this is true or this isn’t true.

Does that make sense?

Yeah, no, absolutely. I love that. And then, I agree, speaking to customers or consumers is absolutely crucial, right?

Because if you’re trying to manage the meaning that they attach to you or trying to solve a problem or trying to create something that’s more valuable to them, like they’re the only ones that are gonna give you that raw perspective, right? And if they, I always say the bigger the problem that you solve, the people might know if you know that they’ve got, the more money they’re willing to pay to solve it, right? And the more valuable you become to them.

So, you know, we’re all trying to build powerful brands. So what better way to start than to think that through? But I think what you’re talking about is almost slightly deeper than that from what I’m gathering.

It’s not just listening to the problem, it’s trying to unearth why is that the problem? And, you know, is there a whole other flip to this that we’ve not considered up to this point? And then once we find that that sort of untapped area, is that the insight?

That’s the bit that no one else is thinking through. And maybe that’s where we pop up solution. You know, any thoughts on that?

Is that about right?

That is absolutely right. And the thing about insights is it’s a constant race, right? I mean, you may latch on to something and you say, oh my gosh, I’ve got an idea or an insight that somersaults into an idea, but guess what?

Somebody else had it at the same time across the globe somewhere, right? And now they’re gonna pursue it. So, I mean, and you see this all the time in categories where you’ve got your number one, number two competitors, right?

So Airbnb, I’m not sure what it is in Australia or the UK, if you guys have Airbnb, VRBO, you know, things like that, but usually you’ve got these number ones and number twos and they are trying to find something that’s gonna make them stand out, right? And be different, have a message. I mean, in fact, I mean, Airbnb itself was based on a pretty amazing constellation construction, if you think about it, right?

So we’re gonna, I mean, if you told somebody 15 years ago, how about you have strangers come sleep in your home? Does that sound like a good idea? You know, probably not, but you needed a combination of things to build that constellation, one of which, you know, great photography, photography of the space, the ability to review in both directions, right?

The ability to pinpoint and communicate with the owners of the spaces themselves, right? So a lot of things needed to come together for a business model like Airbnb or Uber, or any of the things like in the sharing economy or the underutilized assets economy, all of those things had to come together. That’s in the case of a business model.

Now, in terms of a creative campaign, similar thing. You’ve got to have some sort of thing to reframe it so you can communicate a different message that gets people excited. Love it.

Yeah, what other processes would you use to gather insights or data points? What’s a good process? If you were to start a project, where would you start for our listeners?

How would they go about something like this?

Well, that’s a great question. The first thing is you can’t take anything for granted. So in terms of a starting place, I mean, I know I said this before with keep asking why, but take all the things that you assume to be true and forget them.

I know that’s hard. As adults, we’re trained to just say, okay, that’s true, moving on, right? But you’ve got to stop and ask, is that really true?

Or is that true anymore? Right? So think about, again, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, you had to leave your house for almost anything.

Now with augmented reality, with technology, right? You could try on glasses from home, from anywhere with your phone. Netflix recently had the big billboard.

You probably saw the creative that said DVDs will always be in our DNA, okay? But so their whole thing was, why should you go to the movie store, to the video rental store, when we can just mail you a DVD? And then the extension of that was, why even send a physical object when we could stream straight to your television?

Now that required the internet to be able to pump a lot of data really fast into your televisions, right? So again, the technology wasn’t there 20, 25 years ago, but that was the extension of that thought process. So I think you gotta take nothing for granted because technology is changing, the world’s changing.

I mean, one of the examples in the book is around with razors and Gillette’s whole approach to innovation for so long was just keep adding more blades. And then Dollar Shave Club came along and said, what if we didn’t just add more blades? What if we mailed razors to people?

They’re pretty light. It’s not that hard. The hardest thing about the Dollar Shave Club is getting people to change out their blades once a week because they’re so used to hoarding their blades, you know, that they don’t want to trade them out.

So what if is a great technique, a great place to start. Right? So asking what if questions.

What if, I mean, this was the question from electric car companies before electric like really blew up, right? But what if everything ran on gas instead of certain things running on electricity, right? Like all cars at a certain point ran on gas.

And then the Nissan Leaf came out as many years ago and they said, what if everything ran on gas? And I love their ad because they show, you know, like somebody getting their tooth worked on at the dentist and they like power up this giant, you know, the thing is like, and you’ve got, you’ve got a water cooler that’s run on gas instead of electricity. You’ve got all these different things that would be ridiculous.

It would be preposterous, right? If everything ran on gas. So using the what if technique is a great way toward getting to, again, I like to say getting to an insight, you know, as opposed to like guaranteed insight, you’ll have the insight by the end of this exercise done and done.

I can’t guarantee-

There’s like a magic to it, right? There’s a magic to the power of it. You know, it’s not, as you say, it’s not a linear process from what I’m hearing.

It’s, there’s a little bit of messiness in it, but when you see it, you know it. Is that fair to say?

Absolutely. It’s like a riddle, right? When you think about an insight, it’s like, it’s right in front of you, but it’s not obvious until someone connects the dots.

And you’re saying, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t see that. Or it’s like a murder mystery, right? If you’re watching a movie, did you happen to see Knives Out, Gentlemen?

Yes. Oh, maybe.

Yeah, yeah, maybe.

That and the sequel. I mean, any good murder mystery or The Sixth Sense or anything, you watch it and you’re like, oh my gosh, this was right in front of me the whole time.

Right. Yeah, yeah.

We’ve all done that with The Sixth Sense. I know I’m dating myself, but The Sixth Sense with Billy Joe Osmond and Bruce Willis, right? You see that and you’re like, oh my gosh, from the very beginning, he said he sees dead people.

You just ruined it for everyone.

I figured the movie’s all about everybody seeing it.

All those millennials and Gen Z’s on the call were listening to the show and would be like, oh no, I’ve not seen that yet, Chris. You ruined it for everyone.

Another example, I’m at the South by Southwest Sydney Conference and I went to an event and one of the examples they were sharing was around free-range farms for laying eggs for hens and a lot of egg companies say they’re free-range, but literally they just have a little like square patch where they can run around. So they’re like, what if we can quantify how many steps chickens take? So what they actually did was put step counters on chickens and used the data from that to show that their chickens actually had free-range and had like tens of thousands of steps versus other brands.

So that was a cool thing to do.

I love that. One of our clients, I’m going to actually have to tell Vital Farms this amazing idea, but one of our clients at Gallant is Vital Farms. So they’re pasture raised.

So, and I’m glad you brought that up. That this issue, this phrase, which is another technique, which is interrogate language, right? Companies say they’re cage free eggs.

What does cage free mean? They’re free range. What does that mean?

They’re pasture raised. What does that mean? So, you know, asking, what do these words actually mean?

Right. And sometimes you can really leverage that and take advantage of that and interesting in new ways. I recently shared a post on LinkedIn about, you know, 10 words that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

Bitcoin, blockchain, sexting. Okay, like these words didn’t exist. There was one on there, non-binary.

You could say, well, that existed a long time ago, but it’s come into vogue more. People talk about identity and being non-binary. When you look at those 10 words, it’s really interesting.

The themes that are like permeating underneath the surface. There’s a lot to do with trust and authenticity, and there’s a lot to do with technology. You could combine those, scramble them together and say, okay, maybe there’s an insight that technology, despite the promise of creating trust, is actually reducing trust with us.

Deep fake. There’s another word, right? You can’t trust anything you see anymore.

So interrogating words is another great technique. I love looking at comedy, going back to comedy we were talking about earlier with Jerry Seinfeld or any comedians. Comedians are wonderful insight artists.

Now the difference between what they do and what a strategist has to do or creative has to do is that they just set up, they highlight the weird quirks of human behavior.

I thought it was like a genius at that. Just watching people. His whole humor is based on that.

Right. I think most of his jokes begin, you ever notice? Right.

So he notices a lot of things. Now the difference is they don’t have to connect it back to a brand and persuade you to buy this thing, not that thing. So I love one of his bits.

I’ve got a book called Is This Anything by Jerry Seinfeld, which looks at his comedy over the past five decades. And he talks about with tide, new and improved tide back in the day. It was just called new and improved tide.

And he just makes this joke about, is there anybody out there saying, how was your last wash? It was okay, I guess. So then they came up with new and improved tide.

And why is it that they’re showing in the commercials, I guess, back then, it’s like you’re getting rid of blood stains. If you’ve got blood stains, you’ve got bigger problems than your laundry. So he would make fun of these things, but the difference is he doesn’t have to then go, come up with a brief to sell more tide.

So comedians are great at finding observations and ridiculous behavior. And then so, you know, kind of pay close attention to the comedians out there and what they’re picking at or picking on and see if you can take it, twist it and run with it.

The fact that you’re selling, talking about selling back to a brand, how can you actually sell an insight or an idea back to the client, once you’ve plucked it out of thin air, sorry, built it, how do you sell it back to the client?

Well, you’ve got to do it very, very carefully. So I talk about in the book, if you run into a briefing room or a meeting with a client, say, stop everything, I’ve got the insight. And then you just release the insight onto them.

They’re all just gonna look at you because they don’t have context.

The critics stop.

That’s right. So I liken it to, you’ve got to be a good storyteller. You’ve got to study Pixar shorts, for example.

How do they tell a story and hook you in and hold you there for three to five minutes, sometimes without even saying a word? I mean, that’s amazing storytelling right there. So taking cues from great storytellers is one thing.

And I think too, again, insight building is an iterative, creative, collaborative process. We often think of an insight, that’s genius! Or as you guys would both probably say, that’s brilliant!

Right? So we think of it as kind of the mad genius going off in the corner somewhere, connecting the dots, doing the beautiful mind trick, you know, Russell Crowe, beautiful mind, you know, connecting everything, or Sherlock Holmes, and then saying, I’ve got it! But some of the best insights, I think, come through an iterative, collaborative, creative process.

There can be a flash of insight, there can be that moment when you’re like, oh my gosh, I’ve got it. But chances are, you don’t really got it at that point. You have a flash of it, but you still need to write it down for other people to get excited by it.

So you’ve got to find someone that you trust, whether they’re a creative or another strategist, a family member, a friend and say, hey, I want to run some stuff by you, okay? Observation number one, boom. Number two, boom.

Number three, boom. You with me so far? Great.

Here are the three things that I’m seeing happening in the world right now. Now, what if, and then you kind of share the insight, you know, and then they say, huh, that’s interesting. Tell me more, okay?

And then you give them some thought starters or some ideas. I sort of liken it, like, you know, when you have an insight, when, just like with a great musical track, like an underlying track on a song or food that you eat, all you can do is just close your eyes and go, mm, mm, that’s good. It’s the same reaction, whether it’s music, art, food or insights.

So you know, when you’ve got one of these like amazing ideas pitched in the way that you’ve said, everyone’s like, wow, this could be great. Like what are the next stages? Because I imagine from a business perspective, like say they buy into it, they’re going to have to fund it, find resource and push things forward.

And that’s not always an easy journey, right? So how do you take it to the next level? Like, do you hand it off to the clients to kind of do that?

Or do you actually walk them through sort of that process or stick around for kind of getting it out into the wild, if you like, getting the insight to become a reality and to, you know, and actually build a product or a service. Like what’s your, just interested Chris in your kind of your journey there?

Well, I think that’s the production department’s problem. No, I’m just kidding. So, no, I think that that’s the dance between strategists and creatives at that point is like coming up with idea and the production department and the budget department.

Is what is the most concise articulation of the idea coming off of the insight, like a campaign creative direction, right? What can we do that still retains that like, wow, that’s a really cool angle on this. Never would have thought of that before, but still fits within the budget.

So an example, and now again, I don’t know what the insight was for this. I didn’t come up with this campaign myself, but I recently wrote about it, which was the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy Converter. So it was around Halloween time.

I don’t know, Australia, UK, you guys celebrate Halloween? Has it invaded your culture?

Has it been a trend in the past that you could put your junky candy that you didn’t like and it would spit back out a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? So that’s using a lot of different techniques that we’ve talked about, right? And it’s, and it’s, and it’s tying itself to a particular human truth.

So it’s truth plus technology in this case. So they knew that, or at least they claimed 90% of people have candy that they don’t like on Halloween. So they took that and they said, what if we created some mechanism for people to trade in the crappy candy they didn’t like?

And then they came up with an iteration of that idea in the form of a $75,000 vending machine. $75,000, that’s not too bad. And they got 2.8 billion impressions because all of these news crews and other people with social media were like, this is the best invention ever.

So again, one of the things that I try to impress upon people is that you don’t need an insight to make great creative work. But going through the exercises, using some of these techniques, asking what if, interrogating language, keep asking why, things like that, you will get so much further in your ideation process than if you had never used those techniques in the first place.

Well, thank you, Chris. Is there anything else from your book that you’d like to share?

I always like to say you’ve got to be super curious about everything. You’ve got to constantly be taking notes, take pictures and take nothing for granted. So those three things, you have to maintain the child’s mind when you’re moving through the world.

Again, on this topic of Halloween, you can call it the child’s mind, you can call it the alien mind. But imagine if aliens came down to planet Earth in October, or maybe they’re in the ocean. We think they’re coming from outer space.

Maybe aliens come out of the ocean. That was sort of the premise in The Abyss by James Cameron. But if they came to planet Earth, wherever they come from, and they looked around, they would think that spiders are just taking over everything.

Because people put up these giant webs, and there are these spiders, and then they’d ask, why are all the spiders 100 times the normal size of spiders during this time of year?

Why don’t the humans do anything to them in the first place? Maybe because they’re so big. Are the humans actually scared of these things?

Imagine being a child, a three-year-old child walking through the streets. This is what was so beautifully articulated in the movie ET.

ET is walking around and seeing all these humans dressed up with axes in their heads and doing all these different things. Imagine being a child and seeing humans acting this way. You’d be like, what is going on?

Why are mommy and daddy behaving like this? I think cultivating that is particularly important taking nothing for granted is really important. So keep challenging yourself to not think that you know everything.

You have to be endlessly curious.

Love that, endlessly curious. Constantly asking why, like the child brain, like that’s easy for me. Like I can cope with that.

I love it.

I love it. It’s been such a fascinating conversation, Chris, like in terms of how you’ve articulated that, I think that’s been super useful for us. So another question for me, like how do people connect with you?

Like where do we go? How do we find more? You’ve got your book.

What’s it called? Give it a little plug for us.

Yeah. So the new book is called Any Insights Yet. So there’s a question mark on the end of it because that’s the question that you usually get after a 20 minute briefing, right?

We’ve all been there. Client briefs you, tells you a few details, and then there’s a pause and they say, so, Any Insights Yet? You have the campaign?

Do you have the idea? And so I sat through that more than my fair share and, you know, I’d have to say, well, this is a good start. You know, let me go dig around.

Let me talk to some people and let me come back to you. So the book is called Any Insights Yet. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, lots of places.

You can connect with me on LinkedIn. Chris Kocek, last name is spelled K-O-C-E-K. You can also find me at chriskocek.com.

And then if you want more ideas and inspiration and maybe something resembling an insight on a weekly basis, you can join me at the light bulb newsletter, which you can find on chriskocek.com under the newsletter tab. And I usually, I always have three things that I share in the newsletter. A piece of creative that you’ll probably enjoy or be inspired by, the questions that it sparked in me, and then a quote that’s made me a smarter strategist.

So two minutes, you’ll be inspired. You’ll have a spark, hopefully of imagination or ideas. And then hopefully it’ll improve the work.

Amazing. Amazing. I’m signing up now.

Brilliant. Thank you so much. Thanks for coming on.

Anything else, Jacob, from you?

That’s all. Thank you so much, Chris. It was great.

Brilliant insights.

Well, thanks. Thank you guys both for having me. I’m happy to answer any other questions down the road.

If you say, hey guys, or Chris, I think I’ve got an insight. Can we gut check it? I’ll give you my honest gut check opinion.

No, I’m just looking forward to you putting the step meters on the cows.

I mean, I love that. That is such a brilliant iteration of the idea of like, hey, our chickens or our hens have freedom to roam, and we’re going to prove it with our step counters. Again, usually a lot, I’ll say one more thing.

Usually, a lot of insights these days and ideas have some attachment to technology, right? Technology is a major disruptive force. You couldn’t do step counters, probably, the same way 20 years ago, at least not the size for a hen’s leg.

On that note, we’ll wrap it up. Thank you again. Cheers.

Share This Post: