Summer 2020


your customers want and instead getting out there and talking with them. When you get to know your consumers as individuals, you can start understanding the whys better, which can completely change the way you think about and market your product.

Marketer’s takeaway: While you may think you know what your customers want, until you go out and speak to them directly, you are only guessing. Focus groups can be assembled for any size of company selling any range of products and services. Never think your company is too big or too small to reach out into your community of customers and get to know more about how they perceive your brand and how your products or services fit into their personal or professional lives.

known as flaring. During a flaring period, the goal of a person or organization is to broaden their horizons—to gather lots of new information and to be open to as many new ideas as possible. Flaring periods are followed by focusing periods, during which the ideas are whittled down and a particular challenge is matched to a single idea or solution. When it comes to customer discovery and storytelling, the trick is to not move to the focusing period too quickly. In other words, don’t settle for just a few client interviews or focus groups; try to gather a good number of experiences and opinions so that the data set you use when focusing can provide a more accurate representation of the target group’s thoughts and feelings.


Marketer’s takeaway: Different clients often have different motivations for buying your product or service. A larger interview set during the exploratory flaring period allows you to start seeing patterns that you can later translate into more targeted campaigns that better play to the whys of each specific subset of your market.

Go for volume when it comes to new ideas. There is a concept in design thinking


Prototype, test, and learn. The cost of launching a full-blown marketing campaign is not insignificant,

yet very few marketers actually test their material before going live, and rarely are campaigns tested during the idea development process. While your organization may not have the luxury of time, budget, or bandwidth for full A/B testing, you can still embrace the prototyping mentality during campaign development by testing out ideas or concepts with your focus groups early on and acting quickly to pivot on the feedback.

Marketer’s takeaway: Don’t wait until your materials are 100 percent done to get feedback. Design thinking encourages going to your focus groups early with pilots, beta offerings, draft scripts, and marketing materials in order to get feedback and make changes.

Tips on Prototyping

Your prototype could be a storyboard, mock- up, design concept, printed proof,, e-blast graphic, or combination of these. The mor “real” your physical and visual representation of each campaign piece is, the mor understood it will be. By working closely with your print productionproduction partner, you can produce design mock-ups, show paper choices, and provide high-end visual

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of these. The more visual representation is, the more orking

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Generate buzz while getting useful feedback!


printouts of digital campaign elements.

The better you are able to

represent each piece in a tangible, physical format, the truer the experience will be for your focus group, allowing them to provide valuable feedback on each campaign touchpoint.

to a tangible, er the our focus provide ch campaign

Design Thinking Is Teamwor Experts in design thinking all agree that the key to success is developing an agile mindset that leads to creative problem-solving. One way to achieve agility is to put together a

Is Teamwork

ng all agree that the ping an agile mindset oblem solving One

Consider a private beta launch or a special club for early adopters willing to give you feedback on your product, service, or materials. Some companies, such as Sonos (a wireless speaker and sound system manufacturer), have made being part of their invitation-only private beta program a badge of honor for customers.

team in which each member must leave his or her comfort zone and think about solutions from various angles. You might have a social media marketing expert on your team who excels at creating engaging posts; you might also have a graphic designer who’s great at producing striking collateral. Design thinking asks them—and everyone on your team—to leave their silo and approach the campaign design from all angles. To that end, marketing based in design thinking often comes from teams made up of individuals from beyond the marketing department. Sales, production, and even IT professionals will all look at data about consumer needs and wants differently. Taking operationally diverse viewpoints into account when designing solutions to your customers’ pain points not only brings your team out of their silos but also leads to creative and sometimes unexpected marketing solutions. 

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