Use Design Thinking to Solve Your Toughest Marketing Challenges

What is Design Thinking?

As per Managing Director of IDEO U, Coe Leta Stafford: “Design thinking is a process of creative problem-solving.”

Careerfoundry says: “Design thinking is both an ideology and a process, concerned with solving complex problems in a highly user-centric way.”

According to Interaction Design Foundation, “Design thinking is a non-linear, iterative process that teams use to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype and test.”

In other words, it is an ideology and a process for solving problems creatively while keeping the end-user/human at the core. In a nutshell, design thinking is a creative and practical technique that individuals use to solve problems. As evident by the stanford design thinking course, it is less of a method for arriving at a single answer and more of a process for constantly evolving your thoughts and responding to what the consumer wants. As a result, it is an iterative and purely human-centric approach.

Design Thinking Technique

Design thinking, like any other technique, includes various stages or phases to get the desired outcome. However, these phases are not required to be done sequentially and can be implemented in parallel, in a different order, or at any time.

Let’s take a deeper look at the five steps that designers must go through:

  1. Understand and empathize with customers in a variety of situations.
  2. Approach problem-solving attitude by defining the primary issues.
  3. Create better solutions to existing challenges through brainstorming ideas.
  4. Create product prototypes by imagining ideal user experiences from the customers’ point of view.
  5. Run a complete product test to rule out any potential issues.

Role of Design Thinking in Marketing

Most professionals base their marketing tactics on instincts, experience, or even the latest trend. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it does work occasionally; but, there’s a better approach – learn Design Thinking. The technology of Design Thinking is observed to offer several astounding benefits to any industry or business it is being applied to. Hence, there is an exponential rise in the number of industries/businesses embracing this technology. Considering this demand, many enthusiastic graduates and existing working professionals are aspiring to pursue a Design Thinking courses and encounter a career transition.

Design thinking encourages marketers to be more empathic in their approach while communicating with customers. A positive customer experience significantly impacts customer loyalty, brand preference, and company’s sales. The key to success in your marketing strategy is to create consumer-centric engagement programs and brand experiences. Here’s when design thinking comes in handy.

Design thinking is just not about making a business or product appeal to the public. Instead, it is a systematic problem-solving approach that enables marketing professionals to generate new and exciting ideas that speak to customers. Beyond standard business models, design thinking focuses on client empathy and real-world trials. It enables marketers to create high-quality marketing strategies and concepts that cater better to the needs and wishes of the consumers.

How can design thinking help overcome marketing challenges?

It’s easy to start with your company’s goals and build a marketing plan from there, but today’s consumers expect businesses to relate to them in a personalized way – they want more control and more options. One of the challenges for today’s marketing people is to reach out to their target audience on a personal level. Because each customer chooses different channels through which they interact with businesses. It is pretty easy for them to disconnect if marketers do not reach out to them as per their exact expectations.

Marketing is less about the bottom line and more about connecting with customers at the receiving end. So, marketing initiatives must concentrate not just on the company’s products and services but also on their customers’ experiences.

Let us see how building a marketing culture around the design thinking approach helps:


What are the consumer’s pain/problem areas? Service, price, quality, convenience?

This question should cause marketers to take a breather and focus on empathy. Marketers must enter the customers’ daily lives and homes to determine what challenges they are experiencing and how they might offer a solution. Another alternative is to look at the reviews of organizations in this field and see if their consumers dislike them. It has the potential to become your one-of-a-kind selling point.

Design thinking will push the marketing staff to think outside the box. They can no longer rely on last year’s survey or even third-party data. If they genuinely want to empathize with their customer persona, they must get out there and talk to real people.  Accordingly, they can develop the correct marketing messages, not promising everything but ensuring that your target’s most pressing need is met.

Define the Problem

This phase compiles all of the information acquired during the empathy phase and defines the fundamental problem.

The marketing communications will be more relevant, clear, and powerful if they are human-centric. Knowing why the consumers buy your product or service allows you to connect with them emotionally by telling stories that correspond to their buyer’s journey. Defining the problem entails comprehending the customer’s desires, anxieties, and feelings to generate content that appeals to them.


Now is the time for the marketing team to engage in a free-flowing brainstorming session to explore solutions to the problem identified above. The challenge here is to think differently, not simply in terms of making minor improvements to your existing product but also in inventing better ways. There are no barriers during brainstorming; on the contrary, it supports unusual ideas to unlock creativity.

Although marketers are thought to be creative, they frequently fall into the trap of rigidly adhering to their set marketing plans, content calendars, and the like. Experiment with different ways of working with the team. Hold ideation sessions, for example, where you modify the expectations and focus on quantity rather than quality(sometimes bad ideas will inspire others to come up with great views). Instead of simply putting an opinion on the board, team members can draw, sketch, or even perform a skit.4.


In this phase of the design thinking process, turn your ideas into something tangible, a minimum viable product that you can first work with internally(and get input from your team) and then with your customers. Since it is a low-cost version of your product, you can produce many versions. Each time you can enhance the experience, polish your ideas until you develop a satisfying response for your consumer.

You can swiftly prototype your marketing materials, from landing pages to print advertising, and collect insights. Create different versions of your marketing content to check which works best in engaging the customer.


You must test your final solution/product after you have upgraded your prototypes based on the input you have received. While the prototype helped you better understand if your offered solutions worked, testing your solution in the actual world is most important. There must be a real, measurable difference in your clients’ behaviour or satisfaction. Since the ultimate goal is to truly understand your customer’s pain points and give a successful solution, you must be willing to start over if the solution fails.

Marketers should put strategy and pitch to the test in the real world. Iterate and return to the drawing board as often as necessary – that is the cost of innovation and growth.

Final Words

Whether you’re just starting your career in marketing or an experienced marketing executive, a design thinking certification, like any other particular skill, can help you stand out and advance in your career. You’ll learn how to solve marketing problems quickly and creatively, and you’ll improve the way you engage with your team and other stakeholders because design thinking is intrinsically collaborative. You will not only improve your working methods, but you will also get a competitive advantage; as design thinking becomes more prevalent in the corporate sector, employers will increasingly value it.

Enrol in a certification course to learn design thinking. Several offline & online programs/courses may help you with the necessary knowledge, and one such course is the Stanford University Design Thinking Course.

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