4 Reasons Content Marketers Should Think Like Designers

March 28, 2017

Editor's Note: this guest post was contributed by Josh Ritchie, CEO/Cofounder at Column Five. 

For many brand marketers, design is an afterthought. That’s because most (tech) brands are started by founders who likely had tech or business backgrounds, who were focused first on building and selling a product/service and attracting customers.

Building a strong brand is crucial to attract those customers, yet many people overlook how valuable design is to building a strong brand, especially in a company’s early days.

Additionally, when it comes to visual design, most marketers aren’t trained in it. They’re not thinking about what their brand looks and feels like from their customers’ point of view.

This is a common problem: Customers are the most important part of marketing, but they’re often one of the last components a company thinks about. The thought process is all too often:

  1. What do we want to build?
  2. How do we want to sell it?
  3. Who do we want to sell it to?

That sequence has ‘uphill battle written all over it.

If your product and your brand are remarkable, you won’t need to do any marketing.

But most brands aren’t remarkable—yet.

How do you build this type of brand? Concentrate on a specific problem (a need or want) your future customers are facing, then find a way to convince them that your services or products represent the best possible solution.

Convincing means communicating, so to figure out how best to communicate that you are the answer to their desires, you need to do one thing: Think like a designer.

How do designers think?

Designers are trained and experienced problem solvers; it’s what they do day in, day out.

Designers are taught to think conceptually. They're able to see opportunities and creatively connect the dots; they're able to take an early idea and develop a plan (and often, execute) to turn that into a reality." 

Designers are always thinking about the end-user experience. They know how to make things easy to follow.

Designers care deeply about brands and brand integrity. They understand better than others what it means to be off brand and on brand.

And, most importantly, good designers care about the “why.”

When you create content, they should have a seat at the table when you’re developing the ideas at the earliest stages—not just brought in at the end to make them look pretty.

Their valuable insight can help shape the direction of the content. And thinking like them can help elevate the work you create, even before they lay eyes on it.  

4 Benefits of Thinking Like Designers

What can happen when you start thinking like a designer?

  1. Your content will get your audience’s attention. Developing good content is really about solving a problem. Focus on creating content that provides value to your audience in a way that gets them to admire and respect what you’re doing, to the point of becoming a customer. It’s not easy, but with mindful attention, it’s doable and will become second nature for your marketing discipline.
  2. Your content will affect your audience. Many marketers just think about a campaign as a way to sell more widgets and promote them. Designers think about the kinds of stories that elicit a positive reaction that truly affects their customers. Think about ways to improve your buyers’ experience if you really want to improve your sales.
  3. What you create will reflect your brand. A good designer will always push to maintain a brand’s essence,but find new ways to express the brand. The demand for publishing content is ever increasing.Thinking like a designer will help keep you from going off brand as you scale.

  4. Your audience will feel more connected to your brand. Designers are more human-centric than the average content marketer, at least in my humble opinion. If you’re able to put your end users’ needs above your own, you will be rewarded for it with customer loyalty, increased sales, and brand ambassadors.

What to do if you have designers on your team

If there are designers in your organization, get them involved in your content marketing efforts up front, and listen to them carefully. You should also make sure that any designers you involve in these efforts understand the big picture, as well as how each project connects to your goals.

If you don’t have designers on your team, educate yourself  

If you want to learn more about thinking like a designer, find out how to apply good design at every level of your organization, how to create audience-first content, and how to put design first.

Remember:

  • Designers care about the why.
  • Designers are problem solvers.
  • Designers know how to create killer buying experiences.
  • Designers know how to put audiences first.

For more expert advice, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing.

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