Business is cool | Design Strategy Part 2

Author: Jacqueline

Everyone thinks that if you just make a better mouse trap, you’ll be rich. Each business discipline has its own priorities in terms of mouse trap function and profit. As designers, we want to understand it all.


Sales thinks… that without them, there is no business- your mouse trap is nothing, if I don’t sell it.

Marketing thinks… if nobody knows there’s a new mouse trap, who cares?

Finance/business thinks… if it’s just about the bottom line, the trap isn’t important.

Designer thinks… if I design a better mouse trap, it will sell.

Design must be all encompassing. One must understand all aspects and priorities in order to create useful products.

In the second part of the design strategy course, we dive into marketing. We talk about marketing as part of the strategic mix, not to become professional marketers, but to be able to understand what marketing is all about when in a business or client meeting.

We skim the surface of famed marketing terms such as the 4 P’s, (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), we look at types of products (core, functional, augmented, potential) and try to define the ‘true’ solution a consumer is seeking when they look at goods or services. We stop for a while on pricing products, understanding how value compares with price (why starbucks can charge 4x more for coffee than say, Tim Horton’s or the local gas station) and why people pay more for certain things. We close off understanding how to define consumer needs and target markets. When we move towards the world of understanding brands, we look at product lifecycles, adoption curves and a few other marketing fundamentals.

It’s important to note that this marketing research is done in the context of the business strategy (which we learned how to analyze in the first part of the course). If we don’t have context, all the marketing research in the world won’t help our products succeed. That’s just my opinion, based on lots and lots of experience.

You might have the same glazed over look my students did this week in class as you read over these topics. I’m okay with that. It’s not that our designer/ students need to master brand strategy. If they did, they’d go get degrees in Marketing. They need to be familiar with the concepts and terms, so they can work well alongside marketers and agencies collaborating on client projects.

Should you feel the need to understand these points further, I would direct you towards our course text book, my favorite marketing book for non-marketing majors, ‘Marketing a roadmap to Success’ by Ajay K. Sirsi. Professor Sirsi was one of my MBA Profs at Schulich School of Business and he wrote this book to help simplify marketing terminology for us mere mortals, who don’t have the time for four inch thick text books. Happy reading.

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One Comment on “Business is cool | Design Strategy Part 2”

  1. John Lai says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I want to take my technology business to the next level, but I feel like I’ve run into an invisible road block. I know it has something to do with my inexperience with marketing, sales and finance. I’m not sure how long it will take me to gain the necessary experience to overcome this challenge…


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