How "Design Thinking" Can Help Your Marketing Strategy

Alex Phelps wrote this on

Design thinking is a process for problem solving, but if you apply the same approach to building your marketing strategy you’ll see how it’ll make your marketing strategy focused on solving your target audience’s problems. The key element of Design Thinking that is particularly effective is its focus on the users with personas which when applied to a marketing strategy lays excellent groundwork for understanding your target audience.

6 steps to use Design Thinking for your marketing strategy.

Define your target audience with personas.

Your marketing strategy needs to start off with a clear picture of your target audience. To do this effectively, you need to create personas of your audience. Persona’s give a detailed overview of your audience for who they are, what they like, why they use your product / service - read more about creating user personas . If you have multiple targets, that’s okay but make sure you keep these to just a few to keep your strategy focused.

Research and learn your target audience.

This step is all about researching your target audience to validate your assumptions you came up with in your personas. During this process you’ll want to listen to customer feedback about what they need today and where they see their needs going in the future. Listening to your customers is going to validate your audience personas so you can start developing marketing ideas.

Brainstorm and then brainstorm some more.

Building on your research and personas, pull your team together for some brainstorming to generate ideas or strategic direction. This is a time to “think outside of the box” and is encouraged, since this can help discover hidden elements and ambiguities in the situation and discovering potentially faulty assumptions. Remember, no idea is too crazy at this stage, just write it down with all the rest of them and let them sink for for a little while.

Any large “strategic directions” that come out of this stage will also need to have some actionable ideas / task as well, your discussion should be all about deducing ideas into actionable ideas or tasks so that you can move forward.

Choose the best and prioritize.

After your brainstorming session, sit down with your team and take a hard look at the ideas you came up with and explore them in detail if you they look promising. The more interesting the better, remember that your content shouldn’t be just like everyone else’s, choose ideas that are address your audience and will help you stand out from the crowd. Prioritize your list based on their potential, you can choose to throw out ideas that aren’t up to snuff, but you can also just keep them at low priority for now because you’ll always have more things to add in the future. Each item needs to have some measurable action that you’ll track over time to see it’s impact.

Get’er done.

Now’s the fun part (or the hard part), it’s time to start picking off items from your top of your list and getting them done. Most of these tasks will be content development in some way or another, some might logistical though like setting up a new marketing system that’s going to help you measure your performance.

If it can’t be measured, it can’t be managed - Peter Drucker
Measure and learn successes and failures.

Tracking the performance of each of the implementations you work on for your strategy will be key to understanding if your strategy is truly working or not. Marketing data can be used to measure everything from content engagement, user’s first click on your website, to phone lead source attribution. You’ll probably have half a dozen or so tools that are helping you collect the data, don’t overthink all of these tools that you need to spend hours in each one, just spending a few minutes you’ll probably learn what you need to make improvements.

Most likely you’ll uncover areas in your marketing that are working well but you’ll also find things you did that didn't work at all or that need more fine tuning to get them to converting more leads.

Changing the way you approach marketing for your business is no simple task, it’ll require a shift in priorities and careful planning at every step. But it will undoubtedly pay off giving you a competitive edge up on your competitors because you’ll understand your customers better and market directly to their needs more effectively.

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