The way we think about marketing has changed a lot over time.
Take a look at a few ads from the 1920s through the 1960s, and you’ll notice that to the modern mindset, they’re not very compelling and convincing.
They’re kind of cheesy. Back then, those ads worked wonders.
Today, not so much.
Modern marketing has largely shifted to a focus on inbound marketing, rather than super salesy ad copy.
In the dark ages before Netflix and VOD streaming, TV commercials got attention by interrupting the things people actually wanted to see.
Today, it’s all about creating what people want to see. Brands are the new publishers, creating genuinely useful and engaging content that audiences will actively seek out on their own.
So where does it go from here? What’s the next frontier after the rise of content marketing?
Recently, design thinking has been shaping the way marketers think about marketing.
What’s design thinking?
A recent article from Entrepreneur explains this new paradigm, and how it can inform a brand new way of creating marketing strategies.
Apple’s iPad, Nike’s Flyknit sneakers, Hint Water.
Creative design delivered the breakthrough success of all of these products.
Instead of starting with an existing formula already in the market, the designers focused on an unmet need: to work and surf the web on a portable screen that’s less cumbersome than a computer, to have a lighter shoe that leaves a smaller carbon footprint or to get a flavorful drink that isn’t full of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Design thinking is a multi-step method for understanding your consumers’ needs better, creating innovative solutions for them and iterating quickly to get it just right.
Tim Brown, the CEO of IDEO defined design thinking as “a discipline that fuses the designer’s sensibility and ideas with what is technically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.”
Design thinking starts by empathizing with a specific need, then learning about it until everyone truly understands it.
The approach helps to properly define the focus or problem. Consumers have unprecedented choice.
They can make purchase and brand loyalty decisions based on very specific preferences.
Some may care about price, while for others convenience or customer experience matters most.
As a marketer, you can’t promise that your company will offer the best of everything, but you can give them the best of something.
Do you know what elements matter most to your specific consumers?
Design thinking isn’t merely a process or framework
It’s a new, more agile mindset that increases your understanding of your consumers’ needs and is particularly powerful with a diverse team.
With design thinking in place, the freedom to learn about your consumers, test and improve upon your ideas quickly, will ensure that your company can react in time to meet shifting consumer expectations.
You can read more about design thinking over at Entrepreneur.