Here are some tips on how to think like a marketer
Why it matters:
- Define your audience so you’ll know who to show your work to, how, when and why
- Target your message so you share the right level of information
- Know how to be inclusive, not defensive
Think like a marketer
In my last design corner, you read about some of the ‘happy accidents’ that increased the visibility of their projects. But you know you can’t depend on luck to sell your project internally. If you don’t have a marketing person on your design team, there are some simple things you can do to increase the visibility of your team.
Location, location, location
If you have any input into the location of your design room, aim for a central location. Why? So that lots of people will pass by. What happens in a design room isn’t what you normally see in a corporate environment. As people walk by, they’ll wonder what’s going on in the design room, and they’ll ask. That’s an easy way to capture people’s attention and create opportunities to share your work and the value of your designs.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of choosing the design room. In a more corporate environment, or in companies where space is an issue, you may have to resort to more formal techniques.
Hold an open house and invite people to come in, but remember not to just throw people in the room. People who have built any of these models will understand how to read them. However, to newcomers the data can be overwhelming. They don’t know what to do with it. So prepare a very brief explanation about where the data came from and how to look at it.
Be a museum tour guide
Think like a tour guide. When you do a wall walk, you’re doing a museum thing, like you’re there with a friend. For example, when you show the affinity (wall), play the role of ‘tour guide.’ And remember that the flow model can be very overwhelming to look at. In the same way that you look at paintings in a museum, some people can see the wall better if they step back, others want to get right up close. If people are really overwhelmed, I have them step back from the wall. It’s as if they were looking at a large painting; they need to take in the whole.
Tailor your message
You should be thinking of ways they can get your senior management to visit, because they’re the folks that freed up resources for your project. Remember that their tolerance for a lot of data is oftentimes very limited. Set your expectations appropriately and tell them what they should be looking for. Keep your discussion as high level as you can – if they want to go into details, they will. Try giving them a couple of ideas about ways the project or design could possibly apply to the business.
Be grateful for validation
Don’t you just hate it when people look at the data and say “I already knew that.” But the words you dread the most – “I already knew that” – can actually be mutual validation. When people tell you “But that’s obvious” or “I’ve been saying that for years,” it’s your opportunity to tell them how great it was that they were right all along. And now that there’s tangible evidence and hard data to support them, something will finally be done about it.
Choose the right time
Share sessions or interpretations can be a good time to bring in people from outside the team so they can feel part of the project. Remember that you will have to explain the structure and rules of the meeting to them. But since they are new to the process, limit your outside visitors to just one or two so they don’t inadvertently derail the meeting. . On the other hand, the walking the affinity is ideal for an event and everybody should at least be using it. Explain how it was built bottoms up, and read the greens, the pinks and the blues. Leave a few of your design ideas up as examples, and encourage your visitors to add their own. They’ll engage more with the data, and feel like their ideas are also being heard.
Getting them to come
To invite people, don’t be afraid to do something a little showy. Even if it’s just colored photocopy paper, send out invitations, pass them out, post them on a company bulletin board or leave them in a public place such as the cafeteria, where they can be seen and picked up. One of my clients had $50 in their budget, so instead of photocopy paper, they went to their local Kinko’s and bought invitations they could run through a laser printer; then used the company’s mailroom to distribute invitations. And in another, smaller company, the team members walked from office to office one night and slipped invitations under everybody’s door
If you’ve got a corporate intranet or print newsletter with company news, remember that editors and web masters are dying for new stories. And it’s not just a way to invite people to your event. It’s a way to get publicity and sell yourself, your team and the value of your work.
A picture speaks a thousand words
You can accomplish several objectives with a single photo, or set of photos. As the team members finished their consolidated models, one of my clients photographed them standing next to their model, and then posted the pictures next to the model. It gave credit to people who had really worked hard. At events, visitors could ask them questions about their models. Your newsletter editors will be happy too – they’re always looking for pictures to incorporate into their news.