Why Designers Need to Become Better Marketers

Ryan Battles  •   Content Marketing

Why Designers Need to Become Better Marketers

Designers wear multiple hats.

Gone are the days where you only needed Photoshop skills to succeed as a designer. Today, many designers are also learning how to code, how to run a business, and how to manage projects.

Another skill that’s becoming increasingly important in the world of design is knowing how to be an effective marketer.

Imagine this: a business owner asks you to design a website for her new store. Sure, you could put something together that takes advantage of the latest animations, effects, and styles that are popular today. You could create something that stretches your design skills and gets a really great response from the client, too.

But once the site launches, it’s only a truly successful project if it helps the business owner achieve her goals. In essence, does it make her a better store owner?

So when you start a design project, think like a marketer. Ask your client (or yourself):

  • What are the business goals behind this design?
  • How can this design help push the business further?
  • What are some outcomes to avoid from this design?

By asking these questions, you’ll set the tone for a design project that becomes more than just a design—it becomes an asset.

Jack of all trades, master of one

Surely you’ve heard the phrase jack of all trades, master of none to describe someone who does it all.

But a while back, I heard someone describing the ideal designer as a “jack of all trades, master of one.”

It’s important not only to have a single skill that you can hone to mastery, but to have a wide variety of skills that complement it.

For designers, one of those skills is effective marketing.

The importance of effective marketing

Many businesses fail because they don’t know how to market effectively—not because their product or idea isn’t a good one.

What’s the point of having a killer product nobody knows exists?

Marketing is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of tasks, many of which we’ll discuss in more detail later on in this e-course. As varied as they are, these aspects of marketing all boil down to one goal: to introduce or promote a product to potential customers.

When done correctly, an effective marketing campaign is a win-win for both the business owner and the customer. The business owner wins because they’re likely to build a reputation and increase sales, and the customer wins because they were introduced to a product they want to purchase.

The key here is to make sure that marketing efforts get the right product in front of the right people.

Common mistakes and missteps

Not every marketing campaign is going to be a success. In fact, poor marketing campaigns are one of the quickest ways for a company to lose money.

When magazine ads cost thousands of dollars to go to print, and cost-per-click campaigns can cost several dollars each time someone clicks on it, it isn’t uncommon for marketing budgets to get blown without any correlating return on investment. Thankfully, a few of these pitfalls can be identified and avoided before starting a marketing campaign.

A major marketing mistake: aiming your message at everyone.

I’ve met a handful of business owners who claim that “everyone” is their potential market.

Really? Everyone?

This statement might come from a fear of missing out because of excluding any group as a potential customer. In contrast, having a specifically targeted audience for your marketing efforts allows you to reach maximum efficacy in your message and your medium for reaching out.

Another common marketing mistake: getting seduced by the latest trends and new marketing channels.

For example, Facebook advertising might be an exciting thing to try because a business owner loves using Facebook. But what if the target demographic for the product doesn’t use Facebook very often?

A related mistake: going off of what someone else has found success with and using that as your marketing channel of choice. The truth is, each target audience will respond differently to a variety of marketing avenues and approaches. What works for one advertiser might not work for another. In fact, even for the same advertiser, what works one year might not work again the next year.

Our next marketing mistake is to assume that the target audience is going to react rationally to your marketing message. Research suggests that it’s not logic, but emotions that influence most of our purchasing decisions. An effective marketing campaign will connect with prospective buyers on an emotional level. Connecting through facts and figures is rarely an effective technique. People go with their emotions more often than not when making a purchasing decision.

The final marketing mistake to avoid: don’t rely too much on your own assumptions. Too often we make marketing decisions based off of how we think the audience will react, when in reality we’re nowhere close to that.

Even when we ask our target audience what they’d respond to, their answers may not lead to actual customer conversions. People don’t always know what they want, and we can’t always articulate why we purchased some of the things that we have.

As a marketer, your role is to test each assumption with real data. Soon you’ll realize that some of your assumptions weren’t exactly on target.

The smartest marketers test, analyze, and repeat.