Growth Insights for CEOs

3 Top Sources of Strategic Marketing Insights

Posted by Tom McCrary

Effective marketing strategies that drive significant results are almost always based on key insights.  Insights can come from a lot of different places – from research, from a review of operations, from an analysis of the market, from a review of available data, from experience.  The critical common element to game-changing insights is perspective – looking at the situation from a customer/prospect/market point of view.  Let’s look at some examples:

1. Research-based InsightStrategic Marketing Insights

At Northeast Savings, we conducted a major customer segmentation study to better understand the needs of our consumers.  One of the key findings of the research was a hierarchy of concerns expressed by a key constituency – 50+ consumers.  Their number one issue was their health; followed closely by their financial well being, especially as it related to being able to take care of themselves should anything happen to them physically.  This insight, coupled with an understanding of the need for conservative investments (in this case, CDs) due to the risk profile of older people, led to the creation of the “Take Ten” CD.  This was a traditional CD, earning market interest rates, with a twist – you could withdraw up to 10% of your principal without penalty. Northeast Savings was the first bank in the country to offer this type of CD and was recognized in USA Today. More importantly, the CD garnered $180M in new deposits in the first three months and, after a year, no one had exercised the option to withdraw principal.  Consumers wanted the security of knowing that they could, but really needed to earn interest on their deposits. 

2. Operations-based Insight

At Greyhound, we were exploring ways to grow ridership and revenues in the Northeast corridor – between Boston, New York and Washington, DC. In our efforts to better understand what the consumer needs were that we might be able to address more effectively, we did a thorough review of our operations, looking at schedules, ridership by schedule, competition, etc. A couple of key insights were gleaned from the review: 1) Most trips between these cities were not reserved in advance – people came to the terminal and got on the next available bus; and 2) our schedules were designed to optimize our operations, not meet consumer needs. Based on these insights, we modified our schedules to operate hourly on the hour or half hour, depending on the city of origin, creating schedules that consumer could understand and count on. The change resulted in a 25% increase in revenue with no additional marketing spending. 

3. Analysis-based Insight

At Embassy Suites Hotels, we wanted to better understand the profile of each individual hotel's weekend business. We started by identifying non-holiday weekends for each hotel and captured hotel registration demographic data from every weekend guest to create a view of the weekend customer base for every hotel. We plotted the profile on a map to give us a visual depiction of the effective weekend trading area for each hotel. We knew through observation and other consumer research that Embassy Suites was a weekend getaway destination, primarily for families and couples. We did not realize that the target market for each hotel was roughly within 250 miles and that there were clusters of high opportunity markets to focus on for advertising and promotional efforts. We developed targeted marketing programs and co-op advertising campaigns using this key insight, resulting in double digit increases in weekend business in a flat-to-down industry.
At the end of the day, leveraging insights is powerful.  As Roy Spence of GSD&M says in his book It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For, “Figure out what really matters to people and develop marketing solutions accordingly.”

- Tom McCrary, CMO & Partner

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Topics: CEO Marketing Strategy, Corporate Strategy, CEO Strategies, Business Growth Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Strategic Insights