Design Thinking for Marketing Part 2: Framing the Problem

Design Thinking for Marketing Part 2: Framing the Problem

In Part 1 of this series about using the framework of design thinking within marketing, I explored the link between empathy and insight and how that can drive powerful campaigns that communicate with potential customers on an emotional level. 
 
In this second part of the series, I want to explore a fundamental requirement of creative problem solving (remembering that marketing is at its heart a problem solving practice – the problem being: how do we get our product or service to the people to want or need it at a price that works for us and them). Within design thinking – this step is around framing the problem. 
 
Every marketer – consciously or sub-consciously – goes through a process of defining or framing the problem. Unless you’re clear what the problem is that you need to solve, you may not ever come up with the right solution. 
 
Even when you know what the general issue is, spending time to genuinely frame it from the perspective of the customer is an invaluable exercise. 
 
For example, I recently met with a successful mortgage broker who wants to become the broker of choice for first home buyers. He had recognised that his potential customers were overwhelmed and fearful of making the wrong decision; that they felt anxious and out of control with this completely unfamiliar process. Great insight. 
 
However, he skipped the process of framing the issue, and instead focused on solving the factual gap (unfamiliar process) rather than the emotional gap (overwhelmed, anxious, fearful). He showed me his (beautifully designed, gorgeously printed on high quality, thick stock) 50-page booklet which examined in great detail each and every step in the process. 
 
It absolutely would have been on the money had the problem really been about a knowledge gap. In reality, if I was a first time buyer, it would have added to my feelings of being overwhelmed and out of my depth because it was so long and detailed. 
 
So what went wrong with this process? He didn’t spend the time to define what problem they were trying to solve from the insight that he had gained. If he’d been focused on the empathetic insight, he would have framed the problem very differently: these people are scared and overwhelmed – let’s reassure them. Let’s understand their fears and give them confidence that it’s all under control. 
 
Again, this step doesn’t just focus on the customer, it focuses on the view of the issue from the customer’s perspective, and looks to frame the problem from that view-point. 
 
Next week, I’ll be looking at incubating an idea and the creative process. That’s the fun bit that many marketers love, and that creative agencies get excited about – but there are tools and tricks to generating creative ideas, and they are available to everyone!
 
If you’d like help framing your marketing problem, give us a call at Atomic Tangerine! We specialise in understanding your customer’s perspective and what they will respond to on an emotional level.
 
Sybil Williams
Founder and Growth Catalyst