Have you ever been the lone warrior trying to build a design team in a huge marketing organization? Have you struggled to explain why design matters so much to the success of a great marketing plan?
Let us go through some of the simplest tips to help you get started and navigate marketing team as a designer.
In today’s fast paced society, with billions of ads trying to convince customers, a poor design can be disastrous. Is design valued and understood by non design folks? Well, we cannot blame them. Think of an instance where you had to explain the marketing strategy and its impact to customers as a designer. Does it sound tiresome? It works the same. Not everyone out there is a designer. Hence, we as designers should strive to take ownership on building a design first culture, so that it co-exists with the rest of the team.
Easier said huh? What next?
Develop a plan on how design can contribute to the team’s business goals
Research and Design are the two most crucial areas, closest to the customer. They support the purchase decision of the customer. A great marketing plan with a mediocre design is nothing but a failure. People value good experience alongside quality and not mere discounts. A persuasive design bridges the gap between successful marketing and visibility of your product/service.
Be involved in marketing meetings. I know that sounds like an added task to your already hectic day. Design can deliver great end results only by being part of the entire project lifecycle. Core focus on brilliant aesthetics will fail to serve the needs of the customer and can in huge loss for the business. While aesthetics is one part, usability and holistic experience is another. To be a great design lead, get to know your team’s goals, sales figures and roadmap. Work backwards from this data. Figure out apt solutions which ties back to the overall marketing goal.
Great design solutions = Happy customers = Success of the product and ROI
How to ensure you are an inevitable part of important discussions?
First target? Your manager and skip levels are your best buddies. Yes, you read that right. It might take a bit of convincing skills. Guide them through the journey, explain the intent and how this supports business objectives.
After every project, document your process, linking marketing goals and design solutions. Yes, nothing works in a marketing team if you fail to summarize it in figures! If possible, capture the impact generated via fresh design.
Share your learnings with the wider group. Take necessary feedback. Towards year-end, there should be a pool of data to summarize design’s contribution. Capture the misses as much as you promote the success. No project is perfect. Every miss is a learning opportunity, so specify your action plan to rectify them in the upcoming projects.
Take time and earn trust of your team. We all strive for immediate solution towards every problem we come across. Your ability to suggest effective solutions, supported by past data will help you be in the good books.
How to ensure your solutions are objective and not subjective?
The biggest curse of design is the subjectivity of the field leading to n number of feedback. You might observe everyone within the room having an opinion which is often personal. I say “IGNORE”. Grab your diary, capture relevant feedback and ignore the rest. Aim towards solving the constructive feedback captured during every review phase.
UX research and A/B testing will be your best friends
For every project, refer the research docs. It specifies the user journey and states the pain points of the customer. Fulfilling the goals of the business, solutions via design is interlinked to research data.
If you find yourself stuck between various valuable feedback within the team, use this as an opportunity to A/B test. This is the magic pill to define the right approach. Iterate and re define if required basis learnings.
Does it make sense to invite every member to a project review session?
While you would definitely want to play the good Samaritan, this is not the time. Limit the review process to the highly relevant peers and stakeholders. Failing this approach will not only block your ability to time manage deliverables but will contribute to several open-ended questions. Remember, as we move closer to the deadline, all eyes are on design. There will be no mercy given to justify what went wrong. So act wise!
Encourage healthy feedback sessions which are constructive in nature. Debate for the right points and note down relevant conclusion.
Conduct design sessions
Design Hours? Design Talks? Go for it. Explain the contribution of design across projects. Use this as a platform to highlight trends in design which could be useful for your upcoming projects. It is OK if only a few show up initially. Once your session gains relevant popularity, in no time, it will be room full.
Guide the team on how to assess time taken to complete a given design task, and why. Do not let others “assume” the time taken for your job nor commit to timelines without pre alignment. Take ownership of your job and accept nothing less.
What matters the most?
Network and earn trust. Develop a friendly attitude towards your team and all stakeholders you work alongside. While there will definitely be moments of conflict, try to sort this out. If you struggle, seek help from your senior leadership and keep them informed. Do not let these thoughts sink in. It leads to an explosion of emotions and thereby earn you the title of being “unprofessional”. We must co-exist as a team, communicate strongly when the situation demands but never bossy! After all, nobody prefers a bossy co-worker.
Further, updates on how to build networks and grow as an individual designer within a marketing team will be captured in my upcoming article 🙂