Marketing for Designers & why you should care

As a Designer, my understanding of marketing was limited to selling ideas. For me Advertising and Marketing were more or less interchangeable terms that entrepreneurs and advertisers used differently; like synonyms.

But I was completely wrong

Marketing is close enough to Design but it’s not quite the same. Marketing starts with a deep dive into understanding your user, even before a product is developed, knowing their aspirations, needs, and pain points. Who will use your product? What value will they provide? What problem will the product solve?

Image by Brad Neathery Unsplash
Image by Brad Neathery Unsplash

Marketing is more of a scientific approach than a creative endeavor and it is rooted in human psychology. Designers use User Research to understand and come up with Designs that speak and appeal to their target audience, whereas Marketers require user data to come with meaningful products that add value and are tailored to the customer’s needs. Finding the right product-market fit is the job of a marketer. The value of marketing is only as good as the product itself 

An ideal product is one that does not need to be sold, It fits so well with the user that the product sells itself, If it’s sold to the right person with the right message at the right time. Finding the right product is half the success of an entrepreneur. Marketing cannot solve the problem of selling an average product that already exists. Selling the same content with fancy packaging can only get you so much.

Image by Nathan Dumlao Unsplash
Image by Nathan Dumlao Unsplash

Marketing like Design is a long process, it starts before the development of a product and continues even after a product is sold. It does not end with selling because it requires the customer to stay engaged in the business in order to stay or return. Marketing can seem like a lot of things and can be defined in a lot of ways, but essentially it’s a process. Copywriting, Advertising, Selling, and Content Creation are all a part of marketing. Marketing is this one whole on which different people have different perspectives depending on the way you approach it, but it is rooted in the product, It surrounds and revolves around a product

Image by Karla Hernandez Unsplash
Image by Karla Hernandez Unsplash

As a Designer working with different businesses, understanding how marketing works can help us not only better understand businesses and their needs but also better position ourselves by presenting us as “Problem Solvers”

That said let’s look at two distinct types of marketing approaches to reach out to your Target market. Consider them based on where your audience is based and what type of product or service you’re trying to sell. Generally, Ad campaigns, print ads, Billboards, broadcasts, and Radio are used to reach out to a generic audience in massive numbers, The reason could be to expand brand awareness by imprinting a lasting impression with the help of creative advertising. These are common methods of offline marketing or Traditional marketing and have a bigger reach than online marketing.

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Image by Grzegorz Kaliciak Unsplash

” Every year Global Giants spend billions of dollars in marketing campaigns for brand building. L’Oréal spends $8.3 billion,

Samsung spends $9.9 billion, and Procter & Gamble spends a whopping $10.5 billion developing their brands.”

“Altogether the 100 largest advertisers spent $267.3 billion in 2016.”  (

Despite the impressive numbers these big-budget marketing campaigns don’t often produce measurable results or analytics to track. It is often hard for start-ups or medium-scale businesses to approve big budgets to assign for these campaigns due to the risk and pre-existing market saturation of the top 10’s. Startups often need to invest in something backed by solid results

Direct Response Marketing solves this problem, Direct response marketing prompts the user to take immediate action as a response to a piece of information. A website with signup, your portfolio with your email or Instagram handle, YouTubers with email newsletters, the link to your blog on your Instagram bio are all examples of direct response marketing. The results of the action taken by users can be calculated and measured and hence predicted. Direct Response allows you to customize your messaging to directly talk to an individual customer, which can allow you to give a personal touch, like addressing emails with your name

By jonas Jacobbson on Unsplash
Image by Jonas Jacobson on Unsplash

As a Designer or an Entrepreneur understanding your audience and their problems is always your priority. Good User research will provide answers to whether a product or a Design will be valuable for the Customer or User. With Marketing, coming up and identifying the right product is solving half the puzzle. It requires finding a suitable niche to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Your Niche is important to the wealth you generate, its so important that it even has a formula

The wealth you make = N (niche)^ CATT

So what’s in it for Designers? What about us?

This formula alone tells the story of a person or an agency who may be interested in your service to hire you (Lead), from the first point of contacts like your website or, Instagram / YouTube content to the point where you’re actually hired for a job or a freelance project. It’s called a Marketing Funnel

A Funnel is a journey of your lead from Awareness to Purchase

Image by mageplaza
Image by mageplaza

Once you choose a Niche, you need to put out Content. Content is the starting point of the cycle, If your audience finds your content to be meaningful and valuable, they become interested. Interest drives attention (That could mean traffic). If you can hold your audience’s attention for a sustained period of time, they might start to trust your advice and what you say and wouldn’t mind purchasing from you or what you recommend. Once Trust has established it is easy to sell. They might make frequent Transactions if they’re satisfied. That is exactly what the CATT Funnel is about

  1. C– Content
  2. A – Attention
  3. T– Trust
  4. T– Transaction
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Trust is an important cornerstone for converting leads into purchasing customers. Trust can be established with the help of good branding which needs consistent work. The Visual Identity of your business by itself cannot make for good branding, trust is forged by good communication and content your audience finds valuable. It can be blogging or sending weekly newsletters to personal messaging, podcasts, or YouTube. Personal branding is becoming more valuable since people like to interact with individuals and not businesses

Choosing Your Niche

Probably the most challenging and Baffling part for all Designers. I am no expert, I am probably just as overwhelmed as you are and I avoid the kind of confrontation with this topic. So many of us have to evolve and experiment before we even come close to knowing what we’re good at, and that can take years if not decades for creatives. It is a constant process of self-discovery but to make it simple my Marketing Mentor Digital Deepak showed us this Diagram

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And that’s your Ikigai!

Once a Niche is chosen, putting out content is the next big thing, It’s your core. Everything revolves around your content. Once you have good content to start with, you can think about getting your audience into the CATT funnel. But how do you Do that?

There is a framework that allows Marketers and Entrepreneurs to make sure their audience engages with them and is converted into paying customers, by leading them to their content. This Framework is called Integrated Marketing.

Image by Digital Deepak
Image by Digital Deepak

Integrated Marketing is a Strategy to execute and apply the CATT Funnel into practice. It’s a combination of marketing techniques that direct Leads to your content. Used together, these set of techniques in the Integrated Marketing framework will allow you to generate paying customers

All these marketing Channels lead the audiences to your content. the four components to Integrated Digital Marketing are

. Search Engine Operation

. Paid Advertising

. Social Media

.Email Marketing

When used together, they are incredibly powerful to convert your Leads by getting them into the CATT funnel

That’s what Marketers and Entrepreneurs use to get their audience to engage and purchase their products. Designers are not marketing experts but understanding this system of execution can help us grow, whether it’s for our own products or our personal brand.

Image by Ben Kolde on Unsplash
Image by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

Having our own personal brand helps us stand out. Every designer probably already knows that, but what I have understood is that branding is not just your logo, it’s the content you put out and the conversations you have with your audience. And once you build an audience with your brand THIS is the marketing framework that can help turn your audience into paying customers in return for the value you provide

I hope that you found this article to be a little helpful. Learning marketing is helping me to put things into perspective.

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