Design can be like any profession. At times, you can feel the pressure to duck your head low and just churn out the scope of the request. At other times, you might end up designing for yourself, forgetting the audience is not you. This post will be a reflection on the 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix, and how they can help guide your work.
In the 1960s the four Ps, known as the marketing mix, saturated the planning phase for most strategic marketing firms. Before you knee-jerk and tell me you are not a marketer but a designer, understand that the marketing effort you inevitably work with is the sum of its various parts. So you may not be responsible for the strategy, but surely you must adhere to the goals to nail the design, be it an aesthetic design or a user experience.
So let's think through four Ps and see how having insight into these goals will help you rightly target your work for better alignment!
When you think of the product, you think of the utility that is the end game of your work. Are you building a poster for a concert? Are you designing a website to promote a cause? What is that cause? Are you designing an event, like a fundraiser? For what are you raising funds? The product is the essence, the essential thing that gives cause and purpose to your efforts. You are not creating an evocative image to stir debate. You are addressing some topic, but potentially in an evocative manner that prompts discussion. Take the time to understand the central product before you begin.
Price is about value. A product's price is one of the keys that define the relationship of value to the world that invests in this opportunity. Even if the product is never actually sold, you need to gain a relative understanding of the value of the product in the eyes of those who will consume it in some way, by viewing or experiencing it, or by owning it. Talk to co-ideators to determine what siblings it has in the industry, and if it has differentiators. Is it a leader in some way? Is it more about quantity than quality (which is not always a bad thing)? Does it attempt to sit somewhere in the middle of its industry siblings? Find the value proposition relative to the industry and competition. And competition isn't just about direct competitors. Sometimes it's about where people would otherwise invest their time and money as an alternative to the proposed value proposition.
Promotion is about taking full advantage of the opportunity. Where will your audience find you? Are they already looking there? Does the presentation match the mood of the opportunity? Does it contrast enough in appropriate ways to differentiate itself from being camouflaged by the opportunity itself? Does timing matter? Do the seasons matter? Does the medium matter?
Where will your work be presented? Are you standing on a soapbox in the middle of the town square? Are you interactively embedded in a kiosk next to a door into a business? Is it hanging on the wall in a bathroom? Is time of day or timing important? Will people miss it if the aesthetic is too dark and it is night time? Should it be dark, especially at night time?
Extra credit: People
One should really start here. It's all about your audience. As much as our work can feel like art, and as often as it is art (despite the debate), our art is to be consumed. We need to think through who will consume our work. The assumption I would make here is that understanding our audience is like knowing the curves of their body, their frame, well enough to craft a chair they will enjoy sitting in again and again. Our art should feel like home. Our work should suit them. Not our frame. Not us. Them. So who are they?
If you take the time to sketch out answers to these core questions, then alignment will happen. And you will nail it!