By Mansoor Ali
Hindsight, insight and foresight are three important aspects evaluated by every single marketer around the world. Hindsight deals with the past. Insight is the deeper understanding of the current situation as well as customers’ minds that would give a brand a competitive edge. Foresight is planning in advance that takes into account the insights gleaned from the current situation, and from hindsight. All three of them are imperative. However, a foresighted approach yields more and better results for any organisation. Innovation is about good decision-making, and I believe that the future is the best decision-making tool we have today.
Innovation is a vital aspect of growth for any marketer and to be innovative, being foresighted is the key. Every marketer needs to keep two things in their minds: first, have a long-term vision that directs short-term activities. Second, anticipate and adapt to the changing market environment and needs for sustaining your business. Only learning in hindsight will make the company myopic. One has to inculcate transformational, strategic, operational, and executional innovation within the plans and functioning of the business model itself.
Foresight and insight are integral to any decision taken by a marketer. Relying on traditional methods to obtain consumer insight is passé in today’s world that relies on big data for predictions. Marketers today must connect the dots to leverage data insights and create lasting brand value thereby creating a 20/20 foresighted vision. Using social ethnography, it has become very easy to understand and hear the target audiences, walk in their shoes and gauge their lifestyles. This helps marketers understand their needs and desires, and allows them to come up with more targeted products and advertising campaigns for them. Real strategy, especially long-term strategy, emerges from of implementing the insights in a synchronised and balanced fashion. The Indian economy is undergoing a rapid, non-linear change, and companies must both respond fast in the near term and have better long-term foresight. While predicting the future in detail is a difficult task, marketers can at least discern its contours.
Of late, organisations across sectors have developed an increased appetite for information which has made them reach a conclusion that the “one size fits all” model does not simply work in today’s environment. To have a foresighted approach, an organisation should contemplate four key modules: People, Process, Technology, and Data. If these components are considered, it will result in a more focused plan that is guided by a future state vision. This can be achieved by following three basic steps: assessing the current state, defining the future state, and developing the roadmap for execution. Multipronged approach can be followed at each step which will include five capabilities: Descriptive (what happened), Diagnostic (why did it happen), Predictive (what will happen), Prescriptive (what should the brand/ marketer do), and preemptive (what more can be done). It is important to note that the aim of any business should be to create the future before it happens to you. You need to look at where you want to be rather than where you used to be. Before creating a marketing strategy, we should ask ourselves questions such as what are our resources (talent, investment, etc.) at the moment and how can we build on them; what had been the pain points in the past for the business and how can they be avoided in the present and in the future.
Foresight is the foundation of marketing. In today’s overly competitive market scenario, marketers need to see the big picture through the customers’ perspective, decipher their needs and wants, and then formulate messages and deliver them using the desired media to reach the audience. Greater success flows when we not only identify what our customers want, but also what they will want in the future. We need to identify how we can turn brand hindsight and insights into brand foresights. Marketers these days are more focused on what has worked in the past and not on what is working at the moment or what can work in the future. Brands for whom TVCs have worked in the past as a part of their marketing plans keep using TVC as their pillar for success and do not explore other opportunities such as personalisation, digital marketing, etc. which have a greater scope. This way, marketers miss out on critical opportunities that can help them fulfil their customers’ expectations.
Hence, insights (data and analytics) leading to a foresighted approach help businesses and brands remain and become relevant for their consumers. Foresightedness goes a long way and helps brands and businesses ensure a solid ROI.
Mansoor Ali is the Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Hamdard India.
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