Design Thinking is a strategic process for developing new products or solutions. It hinges on customer needs in a “technologically feasible and strategically viable way”. The process is linear on paper but cyclical in nature, as each step builds on the next but requires frequent iteration. In the same way, the writing process seeks to take writers through an audience-centered, thesis-driven process to create a finished piece. These two processes are common in the design and editorial worlds, but I believe they are just as relevant for marketers who aim to deliver a meaningful product.

The vocabulary of Design thinking varies but the progression of steps is fairly uniform. Here is Stanford’s Design School process:And the firm IDEO’s:

One more by the Nielson Norman Group:

The classic writing process model, that you likely haven’t seen since middle school:

  1. Understand=Emphathize ~Pre-write

Design Thinking’s emphasis on understanding the problem and empathizing with the customer is crucial for anyone developing a product, whether it’s a software tool, a school program, or a milk carton. Marketers can no longer see customers as having the same preferences as themselves; thorough research of customer segments is becoming standard in the industry.

“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

In storytelling-marketing, poetry, whatever medium it may be- getting into the mind of the character is crucial for a convincing and effective narrative. This is why novice writers are often encouraged to write what they know, because they know their own experiences best and can describe them more accurately. In the case of marketing, we communicate to an audience overwhelmingly unlike ourselves, so we must research to understand them, instead of oversimplifying their preferences. One article frankly states, “you will need to go outside.” In short, the way I experience a problem is not the way everyone else does.

Once all of this quantitative and qualitative research has established central goals, all the creativity can begin.

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