There is an interview question I use when hiring, “What is your art?” It’s a broad question and certainly open for interpretation, but therein lies its beauty. Asking the question of myself, I’d have to say my art is uncovering and romancing consumer insights.
Back in the day, when trying to learn from brand planning leaders, I’d send out emails asking for exploratory interviews using my “ear” as the bait. I’d write something to the effect that like a dog who hears high pitch sounds humans can’t, I can sit in a meeting or consumer interview and hear insights most don’t. A super power. Hey, it got me meetings.
Today, it’s still about the ear. My day job is vacuuming up information, usually on the phone or face-to-face. Always prompted by a set of preplanned questions but also following trails laid by interviewee’s answers. An engaged listener is a good listener. But at the end of the exploration — when all interviews are complete, all data collected, and the boil-down done – the insights left on the table are the fuel that becomes the brand strategy. The care-abouts. The good-ats.
Planners must be insight beasts. Otherwise they’re simple hunters and gatherers.