By Eric Schmidt

What is Design Thinking?

Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.

The phases of Design Thinking are as follows:

Photo credit: Empoweress

Design Thinking is normally associated with Innovation or Product Development, but we use it extensively for Marketing – more specifically for achieving more effective results from our marketing efforts. We also modified the phases and gave it our own spin – illustrated in the following diagram.  Why? We found that too many people dismissed Design Thinking with Marketing or didn’t understand how it could apply. The other reason is that people labeled it a ‘buzzword’.

So when people ask us how we work – we show them this:

If you compare the first image to our image, you will see they are fairly similar.  We made it circular to emphasize the iterative, agile nature and added the ‘Build, Measure, Learn’ to help reinforce the Lean Startup mindset.


Agile Marketing Circle

In our experience (and some could argue this is an oversimplification), the difference between truly effective, results-driven, impactful Marketing are those top two phases:  Understanding and Measure. A lot of companies dive straight into building content based on their own experiences or already ‘knowing’ the market. They deploy (Digital for us) that content and they move on – celebrating the fact that they completed their campaign or mission.  All the while, never truly measuring the impact of their efforts on the business.

We started working with a company recently and leveraged our circle (way of working) with them.  We have had very good early success with them – driving a 29% increase in new customers requesting a quote.  In working with the company, we developed a full-day workshop where we worked through our methods together – in a very collaborative, fun way.  This workshop wasn’t meant to be a thorough training on Design Thinking or Agile, but rather an introduction and overview – exposure to the concepts while using their own business/data to actually work through.  Partnered with the work we were doing, it offered a powerful way to help the company’s team move closer to adapting the concepts for their environment – which is key!

In the spirit of Build, Measure, Learn – we’d like to expose the agenda and ask for thoughts and feedback.  We would like to eventually develop several useful workshop-type engagements that can help more companies realize the benefit of Design Thinking for Marketing.

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