You Have to Hear Before You Can See

Ed Burghard

“Seeing is believing, but the feeling is the truth.”  …  Thomas Fuller

The most effective advertising and promotion programs are created based on a unique insight that helps you translate your place promise into a heart and mind opening communication. But, what is an insight and how can you tell if a successful communication program can be built around it?

An insight is a discovery about your target that allows you to connect emotionally. It can be a discovery about their needs or habits. It can be about what they believe, value, desire or feel. It is a unique understanding that you can potentially turn into a competitive advantage by leveraging it to create a communication idea.

Communication based on a meaningful insight is a powerful way to connect with your target and get your place promise internalized. Creative Agencies are masters of converting insights into communication ideas. This is part of their campaign development process. In fact, whenever an Agency presents a campaign to you for consideration, you should always probe to understand the unique target insight that is underpinning the communication idea their recommendation.

But how can you tell if the insight is good enough to translate into a great communication idea?

Here are some questions to ask yourself –

  1. Is the insight compelling enough to overcome a barrier to believing my place promise?
  2. Can I connect my place promise to the insight in a way that feels natural and not contrived? Is it competitive and not parity?
  3. Is my creative team excited about developing messaging and promotional material based on the insight? Can they see the connection between the insight and a reason for the target to select my location for capital investment?

So how do you get insights in the first place? Here are some questions that will hopefully stimulate your thinking.

  • Is there something about my location that can be considered the standard of excellence?
  • Where does my competition come up short when compared to my location?
  • Are there a unique asset set in my location that will help my target succeed beyond their expectation?
  • Is there a world-class asset or company in my location that can lend credibility to my place promise?
  • Why do my most loyal companies like being in my community?
  • How does my community impact employees?
  • What is the most important thing my community is known for?
  • Who are the most credible third-party people or organizations that would support my place promise, and why would they?
  • How do people feel living and working in my community?
  • Is there a non-traditional concern that locating in my community helps minimize?

Not surprisingly, insights come from knowing your strategic target well. It takes work and good listening skills to hear what your target needs and some creativity to figure out how your place promise helps meet their need. But, when you have a strong insight and build a communication idea from it, your marketing and sales efforts are greatly enhanced. You begin differentiating your community from the competition, and over time you strengthen the image and identity of your place. This leads to an increased opportunity to compete for more capital investment deals.


What are some of the unique insights you have into how capital investment decisions are made? Share a story of how you turned an insight into a winning communication idea.


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