Rambus CMO Jerome Nadel recently curated a Silicon Valley Executive Network (SVEN) event that convened at Accenture’s Redwood Shores Liquid Studio to explore how design thinking can create a truly competitive advantage.
Nadel, who has a background in psychology and scientific research, as well as experience in both design and marketing, opened the conference by noting that design-led marketing is characterized by a logical sequence and cadence.
“Marketing should start upstream during the strategy and ideation stage and continue during prototyping, launch and downstream promotion,” he explained. “Understanding user experience (UX) is especially critical because UX and marketing are inexorably interrelated. The connection between UX and product marketing was reinforced with the Design Council’s Double Diamond, diagraming that both focus on designing (or developing) the right thing and designing things right.”
Frog CEO Harry West expressed similar sentiments during his keynote and subsequent fireside chat.
“Consumers today judge based on experience, not [solely on] product. So both need to be magical. For CMOs and marketers, creating and delivering a better experience is imperative,” West explained. “We posit that the best experiences are the memorable ones, and the way to achieve a memorable product experience is to create a magical moment with design-led marketing that truly understands the consumer. For some of us, this would be our first cashless Uber ride or the first time we accessed Google Maps. The problem is that the bar for magic is growing ever higher.”
SciFutures CEO Ari Popper concurred.
“The first time someone accesses WiFi at 30,000 feet on an airplane they are blown away. The second time they are annoyed that email isn’t loading fast enough. We rapidly assimilate new experiences that quickly become the new norm,” he said. “So the question is, how do we sustain the momentum for design-led marketing and create memorable experiences?”
Further discussion about the importance and challenges of design-led marketing in Silicon Valley and beyond continued during a panel discussion led by Nadel and Steve Cook of CMO.com, that featured Sasha Pave of Adobe, Menaka Shroff of BetterWorks, Shane Steele of Chime, Arya Barirani of GlobalLogic, Nandini Nayak of Fjord Design, Kate Bullis of SEBA.
According to the panel participants, a CMO should be prepared to diverge before converging. Meaning, one can expect to have disagreements and make mistakes during the product ideation stage, although all parties should reach consensus before the MRD becomes a PRD.
“During the initial creative phase, marketers should adopt the classic UX model of design-led thinking with empathy and a deep understanding of the target audience, including how they think and what they need or feel most comfortable with. Truly understanding how customers will use a product plays an important direct role in influencing its development,” Nadel elaborated. “The CMO can then proceed to assist with the subsequent stages – prototyping, validating, launching and promoting. Like good decisions, good design is informed and validated. It is therefore critical for the CMO and marketing team to sit at the strategy table from the very beginning.”
As the panel participants observed, marketers have traditionally concerned themselves with formulating promotion strategy, generating content, increasing traffic, tracking lead generation, quantifying analytics and closely following reporting. In contrast, designers typically focus on defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. Ultimately, marketers should blend strategy, definition, design, and promotion.
Thematic in the panel discussion was the observation that marketing automation, lead generation and analytics significantly transformed the value and contribution of marketing, albeit to a certain extent.
“However, the downstream focus has left gaps in the renaissance role of the CMO,” Nadel explained. “Even in Silicon Valley, the hub of innovation, marketing teams are disproportionately tasked with creating value propositions and promotion after the products or services have been conceived and developed.”
Design-led marketing can help fix this imbalance, panel participants agreed, with the CMO and marketing team taking a more active role in in product ideation, strategy and design. Such an approach results in noticeably better products and improved downstream marketing.
“Design-led marketing is the ‘modern marketing’; it is the most effective way of understanding and communicating with the consumer. It is therefore essential for marketing teams to think like designers upstream at the beginning of the creative process, rather than simply focusing on more traditional marketing methods downstream when a product is ready to be launched. If you are promoting what you helped create, you will surely have a better understanding of the product itself,” Nadel concluded.
Interested in learning more about SVEN, founded by CEO Brian Reynard? You can check out the official website here.