Struggling to revive your marketing strategy?

The insight principle of upstream marketing may be just what you need to transform it.

What is the insight principle, anyway?

The 1989 drama movie Dead Poets Society gives us a great example:

The late Robin Williams, acting as English teacher John Keating, stands on his desk during one of his lectures and challenges his students to look beyond the ordinary. He said:

“Why do I stand up here?
I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.
You see the world looks very different from up here.
Don’t believe me?
Come see for yourself.
Just when you think you know something; you have to look at it in another way.
Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”

The scene ends with the following directive:

“Break out. Don’t just walk off the desk like lemmings. Look around you. Dare to strike out and find new ground.”

When it comes to marketing, standing on a desk to gain a better perspective of your customer provides a valuable foundation for sharpening and finetuning your strategies.

The Insight Principle of Upstream Marketing, Defined

The insight principle of upstream marketing is:

an innovative form of marketing that takes place earlier than other types of marketing and focuses on identifying and fulfilling customer needs.

The insight principle requires you to gain internal clarity and deep customer understanding, which can be done best by looking closer and thinking deeper about customer needs.

The lesson behind the challenge to look beyond the ordinary is twofold and applies to the principle of insight:

Look Closer, Think DeeperFirst: Change your perspective.

If you look at the world like everyone else, you will see the same things.

Second: Find new territories.

Uncover and identify new opportunities. Look closer. Think deeper. Maniacal focus and new perspective is the recipe for clarity and insight.

Research Proves Insight Improves Marketing Strategies

We use this idea of diving deeper and looking closer in a study done by EquiBrand. It provides insight that has grown strong brands, allowed for new product development, and improved marketing strategies.

In our study, a leading manufacturer of backpacks wanted to identify new growth opportunities, including developing new products and extending the brand into related categories.

Ethnographic research, which involves studying participants in a real-life environment, was conducted to understand how students use their daypacks for school.

A brilliant stage of the research, dubbed, “The Deprivation Study,” involved taking kids’ backpacks away for one week.
That’s right. They were asked to go about their lives as usual, but without their daypacks.

Researchers then followed the teens throughout the day to understand their lifestyles, values, and the role backpacks played in their lives, including the emotional connection they had with their packs.

The research also provided insight into friction points, including the features and functions that constituted the ideal pack. The sessions were filmed and analyzed and shared throughout the organization.

Later, the client applied its technical insight—in fabrics, materials, compression science, and load balancing—to design a line of new backpacks to better meet customer needs.

The insight principle is the first of three in the core framework of upstream marketing, which also includes identity and innovation. To learn more about upstream marketing and how it can develop and grow your brand, check out the second chapter of our popular book, Upstream Marketing, here.