Triangulate your thinking for better insights

It’s easy to get myopic when you’re busy. Soon as the brief lands; hit the keyboard and start with the solution writing.

But I’ve been reminded again recently of the need to hang fire and if at all possible, triangulate your thinking.
By that I mean (and may be stating.the.very.obvious) : look at a range of information before you form a view or solution for your marketing challenges or opportunities.

There are lots of strategy ‘how we do things here’ models available .. you probably have one yourself and it may have a few D’s (Discover, Define..etc) in it and will probably have have some nice graphics and be in your creds (if you are an agency) or on your intranet (if you are a client brand team).

Trouble is, diagrams are easy to file away and faced with a brief (‘build a website’/ ‘improve the website ‘, ‘sell more online’, ‘create compelling content for social media channels’), it’s easy to jump straight to the analytics or to have a quick scan through twitter / blogs / industry sites to get some instant insight.

But that wouldn’t necessarily deliver the best strategy and it’s harder to halt proceedings during the implementation stage than it is to make the time up front for some extra due diligence.
That could include finding what previous research has been done (people will often say not much or none, then after a double-check; find that customer / market report they commissioned last year).
It could also include some desk research of your own looking at industry reports, competitor activity, or it could involve commissioning a quick survey (e.g via surveymonkey) to fill a vacuum of knowledge or to add substantiation and colour to your initial thinking.

My preference for keeping hold of the strands of insight I get when looking at a stack of sources is to mind map themes that look to be coming to the fore. And to use Evernote to hold the long form / original info source so I can check back when I need to.

I’m not talking about creative / design solutions as such here by the way – but the temptation to fire up Photoshop without looking around the brief in a similar 360 way is also a mistake I think.

Same goes for usability .. the temptation / pressure (from experience) is to get feedback from only a few ‘users’ (What kind of users exactly?). But if you can, triangulating your thinking via a pop-up survey, talking to groups, asking different types of users to run through tasks and also using eye tracking / mouse tracking software all help form the most robust conclusions and insight. Obviously all this is dependent on budgets and timescales.

But the principle should be to stop and look at as many sources of insight as possible within those constraints before launching into solution mode.