Summer 2020


to get organizations to focus on end user feedback earlier in the process, break down internal departmental silos, and bring together diverse teams to challenge assumptions, redefine problems, and promote innovation and collaboration. But the same approach can and should be applied to marketing.

Adopting a Design-Thinking Mindset for Marketing With design thinking as a template, marketers become more than just a mouthpiece tasked with translating features, benefits, or technical aspects of a product into materials for easy consumption. Instead, design thinking produces an empathetic approach to marketing, encouraging marketers to put themselves into their consumer’s shoes to

focus on why a consumer would choose to buy the product or service. Understanding a potential customer’s needs, concerns, and desires allows for a reframing of all the messaging that follows. Rather than selling what a product is or can do, the marketing focuses instead on authentic storytelling: how the product will help the end user or how the service can make the end user’s life better, easier, or more fulfilling. By really connecting to the hearts and

minds of consumers, marketers can not only build a genuine connection that helps them sell but also provide invaluable feedback to their organization about how to improve existing offerings or create new ones. In this way, design thinking changes the marketing department’s role in an organization from

a one-way translator to an essential communication channel that connects the brand with customers, and vice versa.

Three Mindsets a Designer, Marketing Department, or CMO Can Embrace to Foster Design Thinking Take a human-first approach. Marketers are often focused on collecting data and metrics (e.g., the

ROI of a mailer, the cost per click they paid for an online ad). However, the first—and most important—step in building an authentic and empathetic connection with customers is to see them as more than numbers. This means abandoning the assumption that you have an intuitive understanding of what

1 The Five Phases of Design Thinking: A Systematic Approach IDEATE EMPATHIZE

- Interviews - Shadowing - Seek to understand - Nonjudgmental


- Personas - Role objectives - Decisions - Challenges - Pain points

Source: Stanford Design Thinking Process

- Share ideas - All ideas worthy - Diverge/converge - “Yes and” thinking - Prioritize


- Understand impediments - What works? - Role-play - Iterate quickly


- Mock-ups - Storyboards - Keep it simple - Fail fast - Iterate quickly

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