Design Thinking turned into Digital Marketing Action

Our friends at Skidmore Studios are embarking on a crusade to empower organizations with Design Thinking.

Their push encourages businesses to make a powerful shift in marketing solution planning. A change that moves design to the front of your creative planning process. A shift that transforms design from a noun to a verb; from a concept to a visceral experience.

Needless to say, we love the idea and believe strongly in Design Thinking. In fact, there’s nothing we like to do better than build digital marketing campaigns with this strategic design approach as a central component.

Let’s look at how Kaleidico takes design thinking and transforms it into an executable digital marketing plan.

Solution-based Thinking

Unlike most strategic processes, Design Thinking starts with the solution in mind. It avoids parsing problems, which are often merely symptoms of an unclear solution anyway. As a result, when Kaleidico gets down to building a digital marketing campaign from a strategy built on design thinking, we know what the ideal outcome looks like, the goals and objective are clear and concrete.

Design Thinking helps us determine what digital marketing techniques and tactics are most likely to yield the desired outcomes. Design Thinking also provides us the guidance to keep campaigns consistent across channels; a crucial detail since digital channels are so fluid and almost guaranteed to be experienced cross-channel.

Engaging in Research, Avoiding Analysis of Old Campaigns

Lots of marketing campaigns flounder because they are simply remixes of other online campaigns. Unfortunately, this often creates a debilitating disconnect because these campaigns were, essentially, ripped off from planning that had different outcomes in mind.

Design Thinking can give your digital marketing campaign a more reliable foundation because it is built on research around a solution, not analysis (re-engineering) of other online marketing campaigns. Researching your ideal solution, considering specific behaviors and personas that may contribute to that reality, will increase your probability of repeatable success.

Building Up Ideas

No one likes focusing on problems. Even more problematic is that analyzing the problem often leads us to an unfocused dialogue about barriers, not possibilities. This approach can limit the vision of marketing campaigns and result in smaller, piecemeal steps instead of mind-blowing leaps.

By contrast, Design Thinking leads to the building up of ideas. With a board full of ideas, you can craft multiple tests, examine pending results, and fold high-performing tactics into an integrated and sustained campaign. Filling your strategy deck with myriad problems and one-off campaigns to stanch the bleeding is what we call whack-a-mole marketing–and playing whack-a-mole is not a strategy.

Prototyping

Digital marketing is an ideal environment for testing. Everything is observable and trackable. In fact, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed by data than left guessing about your success or failure. So, begin with testing in mind.

Design thinking, and the ideas you have built up, should immediately spawn prototypes–maybe even before you leave the design table.

At Kaleidico, we still talk about the prototype we did on a clients’ Facebook that involved asking the community about the merits of leftover Chinese food (of all things). Being a personal finance community, full of penny-wise and frugal members, the community sprung to life. After observing hundreds of ‘Likes’ and comments, and becoming our biggest page ‘Like’-day to date, that prototype became a sustained campaign.

Make a Decision and Do It!

Wow…I can’t even tell you the amount of time and resources marketing organizations waste in a state of indecision. For the love of your marketing and sales success, please make a decision!

Design Thinking, as a process, helps this. It demands you pick a direction and go. Marketing online has the distinct advantage of low barriers (i.e., time and resources) to start, stop, or redirect a test. Therefore, the cost of making a decision is negligible. The cost of languishing in indecision is astronomical. Escape the entropy.

Learn and Do It Again

Pay close attention to these last couple of sentences!

Here’s where I reveal the magic of digital marketing: The rapid design, testing, and feedback loop is so fast that your learning curve can accelerate you to rapid success. Even the most raw designs and concepts can be real-time tested and included or excluded from your overall marketing strategy.

Winners get promoted and losers go back the design table.

The hidden beauty of Design Thinking is that it’s fun. That becomes the secret sauce. When the process is fun, and yields results, it makes the process of planning and improving marketing campaigns sustainable.

This is the magic behind repeatedly delivering creative and innovative marketing results–the results you enjoy and the lessons you learn make you hungry to do it again and again.

More Reading on Design Thinking:

Examples of Design Thinking: