Applying design thinking in content marketing

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” – Robert Rose

Content marketing, in simple layman’s terms, is the process of creating and dispersing content which adds value to the reader’s (customer’s) life, all the while creating interest about the product or service in question, thereby driving sales for the company. With the rising cut-throat competition among rivals and acquaintances alike, content marketing has occupied a pretty important position within the spectrum of marketing as a whole as it makes use of digital technologies and social media to reach out to potential customers throughout the globe.

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Broadly, there are five types of content marketing strategies and they are as follows-

  1. Infographics
  2. Webpages and Blogs
  3. Podcasts
  4. Videos
  5. Books

Content marketing has been in the mainstream for a long time and the main challenge arises in structuring a pre-existing process or strategy to become relevant to the modern-day paradigm. This is where design thinking comes into the picture. In simple words, design thinking is a repetitive process that pains to understand the users and potential customers of a particular product by challenging assumptions and preconceived notions. It also strives to redefine problems and make innovative solutions as answers to those problems.

It is worth mentioning that design thinking is an iterative, non-linear process where anyone can move around the five mentioned stages until they think that the product can be viably launched into the market.

Design thinking consists of five stages-

  1. Empathize- This is perhaps the most important stage out of all five. Empathy is an extremely valuable resource in today’s world and the individual(s) undergoing the design thinking process must empathize with both the problem statement at hand and with the potential customers for whom the product will be designed.
  2. Define- Though it may sound easy, defining a problem statement can sometimes trouble even the best and most experienced of minds. Empathy needs to be high while defining the problem statement to encapsulate a wider range of possible solutions.
  3. Ideate- After the problem is well studied and analysed, keeping empathy in mind, the third spoke in the wheel is ideation where all possible solutions, no matter how insignificant and obvious, are enumerated. Later the best ones are chosen and worked upon to reach a possible functioning prototype.
  4. Prototype- The prototype will be a scaled-down model of the actual product/service which will tell about the viability and survival capacity of same in the real markets. Thus, prototyping leads to a further narrowing down of the solutions and picking the best contender amongst them.
  5. Test- The final step of the cycle after which the new product or service is uncovered to the whole world. Testing though the final step, doesn’t mean the end of the process. If someone/the team responsible feel that they might have missed out on ideas can go back to the ideation stage (or may even start from the beginning) and the process continues until the final product/service realized is free from errors.
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The final question arises, how to integrate the wonderful process of design thinking into content marketing strategies?

As content is written for a target audience in mind, it would further help the cause if the writer empathizes with the target demographic and understand their plight instead of just taking the problem statement at face value. This makes the content many times better as the customer can relate with the content thereby driving engagement which in turn results into sales for the organization driving revenues. Defining the problem ‘by being the customer’ helps content marketers churn out relevant, relatable, engaging content. For websites, social media and blogs this amounts to fewer bounce rates and more impressions. People will lend their ears when they hear or see about the issues plaguing them and how they are addressed sustainably.

The best process of ideation takes place when the content marketer or the writer asks unique but relevant questions. For example, while standard blogs while talking about 10 things to do in a fair talk about the amazing rides and local cuisines, a design thinking enabled blog will answer subtle questions like ‘How to pass time while waiting for the queue’ and ‘Which souvenirs to take home to for your loved ones’.

Family and friends are the best sources of inputs and they can serve as the sample consumer while prototyping and testing the content. Inputs can be further incorporated into the final product making it more meaningful. At the end of the day, all content marketing is trying to do is bridge the gap between the real consumers and those bashing their heads for ideas to produce content on for organizations.

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