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Are Good Design and Good Marketing at Odds?

Marketing vs. Design, or Marketing & Design?

What is the relationship between good marketing and good design? Is it true that in order to check all the boxes of good, effective marketing, that good design must be sacrificed? No!

Good marketing needs good design! In this episode, Chris and Mark explore the relationship between design and marketing, and get specific about how they relate practically.

You’ll learn:

  • How key pages should be structured in order to direct prospect toward taking the right actions
  • How focusing on a specific audience will lead you to limit options on a page, not expand them
  • What Prospect Experience Design means
  • The role of aesthetics and visual language in how a brand expresses itself
  • …and much, much more!

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode Transcript

Chris Butler: (music) This is Expert Marketing Matters. A podcast about generating ideal new business opportunities and creating your future.

Chris Butler: Welcome to Expert Marketing Matters. I’m Chris Butler and you’re about to hear a conversation between Mark O’Brien and I that we recorded last week and it was actually an attempt at re-recording a conversation we had had the previous week and we felt we needed to record it because we had an audio failure with some of the equipment in our studio and, as fate would have it, this time around, we had yet another audio failure. One of the mics went out. Uhh, I was able to restore it because we had three mics running and the third mic picked up both of us. So, what it sounds like is one mic in the middle of the room which is what it is.

Chris Butler: I was able to optimize it a bit to make it sound decent for all of you listeners, umm so forgive us in advance. It’s not going to sound as good as this does right now, but I didn’t want us to re-record the conversation because I thought we’d lose some of the magic of what this conversation is. Ahh, so next time, stayed tune, we’ll be back to our normal studio set up, but for this conversation it’s going to sound a little bit more like season one for all of you longtime listeners. So, stay tuned for Mark and I, and then we’ll talk to you next time.

Speaker 1: (music)

Chris Butler: One of the things that I love most about my job is talking to our clients about design. It’s- … what’s really cool is that our role in helping them with digital marketing is to nurture something they don’t quite know about, as well as the stuff they really know about. Right? Like we have to really get in their heads and draw out the best.

Chris Butler: And, from a design standpoint, like I’m coming off of a high of yesterday, there was a…a, I was having a conversation with one of our clients and I’d been concerned about the direction in the design it was going in because what sometimes can happen is we give all these recommendations and it could….lock a creative team in, like they might read all those and misinterpret them, understand them in a certain way, feel constricted by them. Which is not what they are meant to do.

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: And I was concern that, perhaps heading in that direction where it just wasn’t them. And we…this has been uh… what months long conversations at this point and seeing what was produced yesterday I was just so unhigh from it. It was good.

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: It wasn’t just good designed but it was also them. You know, its like when you’re raising a child and you just see them emerging and that is so beautiful and wonderful. And you know, that-that is something I’m really excited about and I… it brings me back to a question that is always on the tips of our clients tongues as soon as they are working with us which is; is good design and good marketing, are they at odds?

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: You know, do you have to sacrifice one for the other. And we, obviously, believe the answer is no. But it takes some time to uh… work that out.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, this particular person you are talking abut out in the mid-west. They…their very designed conscious firm.

Chris Butler: Right

Mark O’Brien: Um…we-we-we love those firms. (laughing) They’re wonderful to work with. Um what struck me about your encounter yesterday was what the creative director had to say. Because that to me, to improvise the …the [inaudible 00:03:35] in their perspective on things

Chris Butler: Right, which was that….and I didn’t know this, um you know, our point of contact to someone with whom we worked for many years. Uh who has…been wonderful to work with because he really understand what it is we are going after. And he[crosstalk 00:03:51]

Mark O’Brien: He’s more on the business side of things.

Chris Butler: Right, right. He has been basically running this firm. Participating in running this firm for a long time. Very strategically minded but also you know as lover of design.

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: Um as they all are which is just uh wonderful to work with as you said. But yeah, what-what…he brought the creative director in which is first time every-everyone involved in making this thing was at the table. And basically said look, we…we’ve been loving the perspective that you are bringing to us. That of course, is a gratifying thing to hear, because [crosstalk 00:04:19]

Mark O’Brien: Oh, the creative director.

Chris Butler: Because, I-I think my-my-my worry always is, is that, we begin these conversation typically…in a different realm of an organization typically….uhh I-I owner, mamangement level, executive level

Mark O’Brien: People who are most concern about actual business development.

Chris Butler: Right

Mark O’Brien: They’re the ones making the hiring decision for us.

Chris Butler: And they-and they can often feel maybe to, uh creative team or people who are actually… um bestowed with these decisions to inherit them and uh… and-and do something with them and that’s like okay, well those are all of our limitations that the capitals allow.

Mark O’Brien: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Chris Butler: And you [crosstalk 00:04:55] Right, and that they were actually excited about it. And um… and they really rose to the occasion in the sense that like they they-they…again wha-what I always try to impark on our clients is like these are-are recommendations that are strategic in nature and therefore, their implications are structural. And what that means is that, it’s your backbone around which to be as creative as you possible can be. It’s kinda like, if-if we were talking to a musician. What we’re saying is like look, okay you…there’s something you want out of this. You want people to dance…to your music.

Mark O’Brien: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Chris Butler: So, if you want them to waltz then you should probably play something in 3-4.

Mark O’Brien: Right (laughing)

Chris Butler: Like 3-4 time signature. Whether you do that with a piano or an accordion or spoon on a bucket, doesn’t matter. What-what matters is, is that, the basic structural recommendation is understood. And then you can be yourself around that. That’s it. That’s the only limitation but it’s-it’s center on the goal. You want people to dance, you want people to waltz, that’s what it’s gotta be.

Mark O’Brien: And then…what excites me about this is, is how use specifically are perfectly suited to do this. You know with the designed background from [inaudible 00:06:03] with you know, um real love of the art of design. Like you really get it and live it. And your..the way you’re dress is an example of it. Your house is an example of it.[crosstalk 00:06:15] Your desk is an example of it. You know it’s-it’s everywhere around you. Your notebooks that are full of these wonderful drawings are examples of it. But, you have been stooped and created the new [inaudible 00:06:24]perspective, as well.

Chris Butler: Which is a synthesis of all of us and the fact that I think what-what’s critical to our cultural and what I think ultimately if you have to distill it down, like what are we trying to share. If we’re making disciples right like lets-lets sorta take it out of the business context for a second which is really what we’re trying to do because it’s not like…we’re not selling a product.

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: And we’re not selling a one time experience. We’re trying to change the way our client do things. Both now and forever. And that…for lack of more loaded term, that’s very much like discipleship and so, if we’re trying to make disciples of people, we all have to believe in this. Right?

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: It can’t just be sorta like okay, by working with seven people at Nuvango do you kinda get this aggregate thing that none of us really believe but we’re all sorta (laughing) of part of it. All has to be govern by my love for results and like, you know being practically minded.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah but they don’t oppose each other.

Chris Butler: No, not at all.

Mark O’Brien: There-there all the same path.

Chris Butler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Mark O’Brien: They-they actually support each other.

Chris Butler: Right.

Mark O’Brien: I think that’s where a lot of s-designers at some firms just misunderstand. They think it’s one or the other.

Chris Butler: Yes and often um as we go through the process of…you know, we begin with our core recommendations and as our clients take those recommendations and create with them, what ends up being the conversation is okay, uh are we still in touch with the original objective or not? Have we veered off course? Have we introduced something that’s actually going to um reduce the chances of that future state being, uh you know… m-reached. Um, is it a distraction. Is it… is it creativity for creativity’s sake and a lot of times when that comes up, an organization will rightly say look, we-we need to express ourselves.

Mark O’Brien: Course

Chris Butler: Someone who comes to the site or reads this material or sees this image, needs to experience who we are. And that’s true.

Mark O’Brien: That’s good business.

Chris Butler: But it can’t be at the expense of what you hope they do next happening.

Mark O’Brien: Right

Chris Butler: And that’s-that’s the critical balance and so, there’s a bunch of things that I sorta file underneath my design dogma, you know. And what I mean by dogma is, these are the nonnegotiable.[crosstalk 00:08:30] Right so I’m willing to-to let what I would call the prerogative of sensibility sorta super seed those-like lots of things. So-so if an agency says to me look, w-we really just need to do it this way or it needs to be this car or it needs to be written this way or this image-Fine. [crosstalk 00:08:43] That’s your prerogative of sensibility but they are nonnegotiables.

Mark O’Brien: What are some of those nonnegatiables?

Chris Butler: Well so-the thing that we’re uh saying a lot theses days is trying to differentiate our clients perspective on user experience design from how that’s done in the marketing context. User experience design, is something that, over the last decade is solidified and become part of the interaction design discourse, right. It’s this idea of, let’s remove distractions, make it easy for users to do what they want to do. Straight forward.[crosstalk 00:09:11] Nothing wrong with that.[crosstalk 00:09:12] Kinda of the Apple perspective. Can anyone just pick up a phone for the first time that Apple makes and figure out how to use it. [crosstalk 00:09:17] Right, right. That’s good user experience. Prospective experience design is a subset of that. And that’s what I think, I’m looking at like the next three to five years for , what do we really need people to understand. Prospect experience design in the marketing context specifically is the discipline, it-it’s UX but it’s the discipline of make sure that number 1, you’re clear about what the prospect should do next and making it easy for them to do.

Mark O’Brien: And understanding who the prospect is.

Chris Butler: Right. Well, yeah you can’t do that without understanding the prospect.

Mark O’Brien: And even that one at that very first step, you know there’s other steps [inaudible 00:09:51] but that first step, is incredibly difficult for many firms.

Chris Butler: Well and I think interaction design…well most design and most of cultures sort of…it begins at the wel-with the broadest ten, the biggest population. And then you have to sort of figure out what makes the most sense for your niche right. And in our line of work, we are constantly pushing towards the nichest niche. We’re trying to get the most specific thing because if you can pin point that your chances of success grow. We’re not trying to create a system that anyone can figure out and do whatever they want to do next. We’re creating a system for a very specific subgroup of people to do a very specific subgroup of things that you decide are important.

Mark O’Brien: And what are some of those things? Wha-what do you want to make sure that our prospect does when they hit the same?

Chris Butler: Well okay, so the word conversion, that something that anyone listening probably has a sense of. But we’re trying to specify what conversion means.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah and you say that most people have a sense of it but I think that’s a word that is used for so many different things [crosstalk 00:10:53]At least what we mean by conversion.

Chris Butler: Right so in the marketing contexts, I think that something that we always have to um come back to is, the objective of marketing has to create opportunity. The object for sales is to-is to turn that opportunity to dollars, to create customers. And so, marketing, if its objective is to create opportunity then conversion are defined by how that process works. So, you know, the most light touched conversion would be somebody just saying you know what, I rather not bookmark this site. It’s a great source of information. My question are being answer. I want that delivered to me. So basically invites you, the marketing, to have a little bit more intimacy with them, the prospect [crosstalk 00:11:30]

Chris Butler: Right, that’s a conversion. Another conversion might be on the evaluator side, somebody that’s a little bit deeper in that process of saying you know what, make questions are being answer. I’m a little bit closer in understanding, might need to hire this organization. I need their expertise. Do I understand the structure by which I can, get their expertise and they start to ask those questions. They start to compare them with possible other sources of the same thing. And so evaluator conversions either allow the organization doing the marketing to evaluate the fit of the prospect through recurring submissions or they allow the prospect to self evaluate by way of some kind of assignment or a calculator, something like that. So you’ve kind of got that, you know, share prospective on, okay we’re both participating in this sniffing each other out kind of thing. And there’s of course what we would call, a buyer conversion. Bu-but what that really is is just someone raising their hands and saying you know what, I’m self identifying. I want to talk to-lets get pass this thing. Lets get face to face.

Chris Butler: Those conversions you know, there’s probably more of details that you can put into any of those buckets. But researcher evaluator and buyer in the marketing contexts, are basically increasing the intimacy of the organization and the prospect. Increasin-or [crosstalk 00:12:41] or yeah reducing or building the trust. And that’s base on having digested really important information that’s been sifted through and-and written really precisely for that experience

Mark O’Brien: Over a long periods of time.

Chris Butler: Over a long period of time. Who knows what the actual path of sales is or the path to uh opportunity conversion is in this case.

Mark O’Brien: The has facilitated that

Chris Butler: Right and prospect experience design. The discipline of making it easy for prospect to do what you want them to do next. It’s-it’s inclusive of taking those actions.Signing up for news letter or digest. Submitting dated content form or assessment saying I want to have a meeting with you