Good Business, Bad Design: A Modern Marketing Parable

You have created a well-developed business plan.  You have turned that fundamental data into an intellectual appeal to your customers.  You have created a marketing strategy that clearly states the benefits and value of your product or service.  You are finally ready to turn on the machine and when you do…nothing.  The translation of value is the biggest hurdle in any marketing effort.  You have to quiet competitors while differentiating your value from the pack. The following is a parable about how a little effective design can go a long way to help with that translation.  To make my points I’m going to use a company plucked right from our Mediabeyond mythology: MinimumViableProducts.tv. 

Are you like Skip and Art?

Skip and Art, the proprietors of MVP.tv, spent 6 months putting together an air-tight business plan.  It described how they would create and deliver value while maintaining the margin they would need to grow the company.  They sell widgets, sprockets, and cogs . (Someone’s a “Jetson’s” fan – psst, it’s me.)  When they were underwhelmed with the response their website was receiving, they decided to look at their analytics. They were looking to see if they could identify the problem in their marketing mix so they could make the proper adjustments.  What they discovered was that their website visitors were coming to the site and then bouncing (defined as leaving within 60000 milliseconds of page load- #adjustglasses) almost immediately. They had devised this wonderfully laid-out sales funnel, but nobody was entering it.

“How could this be?” Art exclaimed.

“We have done everything to insure that our message was clear!” Skip added.

But had they done everything? Not exactly.  With some professional guidance, they commissioned a simple survey and learned that they didn’t “look” the way their customer expected.  Skip and Art’s online design was seen as outdated, boiler plate, and a little soul-crushing.  While they had made the appeal to the intellect of their customer, they forgot to appeal to that customer’s feelings.

You could be just like Skip and Art.

Skip and Art were overwhelmed by the million different ways to approach this problem.  Which led them to another problem,  “What is the right way for us?”  Skip and Art were not designers.  They were businessmen, with a solid education and ample training.  They know how businesses work, but not every part of success can be displayed on a spreadsheet*. To get the answers, Skip and Art turned to the experts.

You should be more like Skip and Art.

What did Skip and Art do? Armed with their survey data, they hired a designer to put together a “look” (#adjustscarf) that would help visitors immediately identify who they were and what they did.  It needed to look encouraging, but not garish. They wanted to get people motivated to finish their projects using MVP’s products. They weren’t trying to win an award or coax a snake out of a basket with moving thingamajigs. Thingamajigs are great, when used in accordance with a growth strategy, but you’re a business, not a magic show.  Skip and Art had been able to fix that moment where the customer came to the site and said, “Is this worth my time, money, attention, desire, and finally, response?”

To be more like Skip and Art, and get your website working for you, start by asking yourself, “What is it we do?” Then ask, “Who do we do it for?”  Do you sell luxury products, or do you sell discount products?  Do you create alternate reality experiences for blockbuster Hollywood releases, or are you a tax accountant?  Looking like the type of business you are is the first part of your design.  Appealing to the type of customer you serve is the second part.  You need to make sure you are fulfilling their expectations.  Present colors, images, and associations that translate to: “Hey friend, you and me – we’re meant for each other.”

Skip and Art felt great about their new web site. But more importantly, they saw a big difference in the performance of their new design. No longer immediately driven away by the clunky design of the old site, customers were willing to spend more time on their site, learn why MVP was a good partner for them, and finally enter their funnel. Which is as close to “Happily ever after” as you can get.

I hope that this helps to make the mysterious world of brand identity and graphic design a little more approachable.  The rules are easy: keep it simple, target focused, and remember – you get what you pay for.

Here at Mediabeyond we have years of experience and a deep passion for helping go-getters like you.  Spark a design revolution at your company, or just start a conversation by sharing Skip and Art’s story.  If you need help on-boarding a resistant partner or manager, I invite you to contact us for support.

If you’re cool, you’ll leave a comment.  You seem cool.  (#Ihatecommenting #toohonest)

*Thanks for scrolling down here…little side note: there is a measurable ROI to every aspect of success!