When tackling a new client project, it’s easy to recycle the same ideas you’ve used for previous projects. And when it comes to your client’s marketing collateral, that recycling of old ideas prevents the collateral from being as effective as it could be. Luckily, by applying principles of design thinking you can improve your work product and potentially boost your metrics in the process.

Design thinking has been a popular buzzword in the business community for decades. It takes the principles of design and applies them to the world of human behavior. In the process, design thinking has been applied by business experts to nearly every industry. It uses a pretty basic framework beginning with understanding the problem at hand, then exploring possible solutions, and finally materializing those solutions.

Predicting the future

The first step in the design thinking framework is to define what problem you are trying to solve. You can do this by developing target personas for your products which allows you to frame how you view your audience. From there, you can observe the end customer to see what they really want collateral materials. Supporting your observations with data instead of intuition can help clarify and justify your decisions. A mixture of primary and secondary research will also unlock areas that you may not have thought of for your marketing collateral.

The second step is to take the research you have done and ideate possible solutions to the problem. Designers and copywriters should sketch out multiple concepts for visual pieces that use various combinations of design and messaging styles. Once initial sketches are complete, look to what platforms this collateral can be applied to. At this stage, don’t be afraid to look outside your statement of work to see what your client might be missing.

Concepting and Testing your ideas

As you have solidified your ideas, narrow them down to three or four concepts that you believe are the strongest. From here, use a process called iterative prototyping to build out your concepts – build out sample collateral pieces and then have designers and copywriters edit and rework those pieces. If your collateral is focused on a digital tool, make sure you wireframe out your ideas completely during this process.

Now, test your ideas through the use of team critiques or by focus groups and in-depth interviews. Have individuals evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the collateral and point out what designs work and which ones do not. In this testing phase, be sure to gather as many quantitative metrics as possible to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your concepts. Your team may need to repeat the concepting and testing cycle a few times to ensure you have the best ideas.

Bringing ideas to life

Once your testing is complete and you have one or two very solid concepts you can focus on the implementation. Create an implementation plan by determining all of the costs associated with your marketing collateral and develop a schedule for getting the content published. Keep in mind that formatting collateral across platforms is important (for more information about integrating content across social media platforms, read our blog post here) Once your client approves you can finalize your work and let your ideas out into the world.

The beauty of design thinking is that this process is iterative. At any point you can redefine the problem you are solving or go back and ideate new concepts. By thinking outside the box and doing several cycles of design thinking you will be able to create marketing collateral that goes above and beyond for your clients and appeals to new potential customers.

About Weber Associates

Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH-based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients solve real sales and marketing challenges so they can significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty.