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The Case for Design Thinking in Digital |

Getting to Know Your Customer

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Design Thinking as a way to know your customer

By now, you should have a healthy appreciation for the enormous stakes at play with brands online. It is much easier to trip up and disappoint than it is to exceed expectations. Consumers stand ready to pounce with social media tools if you slip up and don’t understand or listen to their needs.To get this intimate understanding of what our customers fears, aspirations, problems, goals, joys, (insert desired emotion), we can turn to the field of Design Thinking.

As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. [Source]

The key part in that definition is empathy.

Mindset of a Smart Marketer

We have to strip away what we think our customers want and instead adopt a mindset of being in service to their needs. Marketing is often been viewed by outsiders as slimy or even evil – somehow able to invisibly exploit people’s insecurities and fears in the pursuit of profits.But today with the web, customers will voice that perception loud and clear. Consumers online are always quicker to criticize than to applaud. We have to surprise and delight through remarkable experiences.Stealing some approaches from design thinking provides us a road map by stepping back and really thinking through all the touchpoints a customer might have with a brand. It forces us to deal with the human experience of trying to gather information and solve a problem.As we saw with Rogers’ five-step adoption process and especially with Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research, customers are constantly researching whether they have a good fit for their needs.

Introducing the User Persona

One of the best ways to get close to our customer is start with a tool called a user persona. This simple aid has been used in product design for years. It basically forces us to think about “a day in the life” of our customers and removes the layer of abstraction that can occur when focused on quantitative topics like market size, price points, and demographic data.

User persona: A short narrative of who we are marketing our product to based on a blend of demographic and psychographic data, as well as a photograph. Hopes, dreams, and fears should be flushed out as well for sparking ideas on how the brand can better connect emotionally with this customer.

The user persona dates back to the mid-90s and was later adopted by the ad firm OgilvyOne as “CustomerPrints”. The book The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by software visionary Alan Cooper, helped make the case that software should be designed with a specific user in mind. [Source].

Why use one?
Using this approach engineers and designers have been able to better articulate and filter the specifications needed and ultimately design solutions that lead to successful adoptions of software products.
People in marketing have started to take notice. This empathy thing might actually make marketing easier and drastically cut advertising costs by having a better product/market fit.
User personas help us get closer to achieving the holy grail of marketing – that of positive word of mouth.