Embracing the Insight Economy

Welcome to this new era—the era in which the rules we learned in the past two economic environments will need to be put aside and replaced with better ways to win. The bad news about this transition is that companies unwilling to evolve quickly will be unable to keep pace. But if you’re willing to change, then the world will be your oyster. I can promise you that the journey is not very complex, and it is completely within your power.

The path to success in the Insight Economy is a one-way speedway. To do well you’ve got to embrace it; you’re here, and there’s no way around it. As I said in the last chapter, survival here isn’t mandatory; it’s up to you to succeed.

Organizations that fully embrace the Insight Economy share traits that I’ll point out over the next few chapters while discussing specific examples of companies that are already seeing success in this brave new world.

Let’s begin by answering the question. What is the Insight Economy? The idea is very simple. It centers on the idea that organizations must resolve core customer dissonance by solving real problems in a meaningful way—and better than any other brand. By dissonance, I mean the difference between what your customers tell you and what they actually do. There’s often a wide gap between the two, and it spans pretty much every category.

From the customer’s vantage point, the scientific term for all this is “cognitive dissonance,” the discomfort that results when what someone is telling you is different from what your own senses are telling you. If there’s a conflict between what a business says it’s going to do and what it actually does—as experienced by the customer—the actions will far outweigh the words. “I hear what you say,” goes the simple-sounding axiom, “but I believe what you do.” There may or may not be something wrong with a customer’s hearing; their eyesight tends to be 20/20 in the fabled “moments of truth” when they come nose-to-nose with our brands (physically or virtually) and have an opportunity to confirm or refine their evaluations of our value.

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That is the problem marketing has been trying to solve. We thought brands were built by affecting beliefs and by creating relationships. I love Coke. I think Coke is a brilliant brand. It is one of the most beloved brands in the world. Unfortunately, I don’t drink Coke. I don’t plan to drink Coke and I will never drink it. Who cares? The Coca-Cola Company, that’s who. The folks at Coke want me to consume their product. And they have it right. It’s not about how people feel about your product or service. It’s about what they do with it, how often they do it, and how consistently they do it. That’s what builds brands. Now, with the ability to leverage behavioral data with attitudinal research, we can understand this dissonance and find a way to resolve it. Because unless you find a resolution, you can’t get to big, category-changing ideas.

— Excerpt from Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday by Zain Raj


Zain Raj is the chairman and CEO of the independent research and insights company Shapiro + Raj, and founder and CEO of the ideas incubator zednext. He is author of Brand Rituals: How Successful Brands Bond with Customers for Life, an Amazon marketing and sales bestseller, and the 2015 release, Marketing for Tomorrow, Not Yesterday.

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