Design Thinking helps enable marketing innovation: VeerChand Bothra

Authored by VeerChand Bothra, Chief Entrepreneur and Evangelist

VeerChand Bothra heads Netcore Innovation Labs at Netcore Solutions, India’s largest Marketing Automation and Analytics Platform provider. He provides strategic vision, direction, and roadmap to the company’s innovation efforts. Netcore Innovation Labs is focused on building areas of business growth through emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI/ML, Cognitive computing, and Conversational UI.

Even though the concept of design thinking has been around since the 50s, it has suddenly gained popularity over the last decade or so; especially when it comes to designing software and tech products. But can design thinking help elevate marketing campaigns? The answer is a resounding yes.

At its core, design thinking is a method for the practical, creative resolution of problems using the strategies designers use during the process of designing. Design thinking has also proved quite useful as an approach to resolve issues outside of professional design practice, such as in business and social contexts.  The design thinking process has various stages including: defining the problem, researching, forming ideas, prototyping and testing.

How Design Thinking Works in Marketing

In most organisations, the marketing process is fairly linear. The idea or concept is conceived by the marketing managers. The brief is passed on to the content team. The ready content then goes to the graphics team for design. From there, it is distributed as appropriate to the social media teams, email marketing teams etc. Design thinking turns this entire process on its head. Instead of a linear progression, an interdisciplinary team consisting of a marketing manager, a content writer, designer, sales person, marketing automation person will come together to brainstorm and conceptualize the entire campaign such that it has insights from all the parties and has a far more holistic approach that draws on empathy.


Empathy is at the heart of the design thinking. In the age of marketing automation, marketing may seem like an extremely sanitized process that is governed by numbers and hard data. A design thinking approach can act as a necessary reminder to focus on the human aspect and empathise with the people with whom you are communicating. Needless to say, empathy leads to more targeted messaging. For example, let’s take a simple example such as soap. Empathy is important for you to understand what a certain set of customers cares about in a soap. Is it the fragrance? The ability to kill germs? Unique shape of the soap? Knowing what the customer cares about can lead to a more effective campaign. For instance, the sales person can provide insights from the sales transaction. The social media person can provide insights based on social media interactions. With all these inputs, a campaign that truly resonates with the audience can be designed.

Customer Buying Journey

Design thinking is now extensively used to simplify navigation in software to ensure a better user experience. What if we use it similarly to decide the structure of our marketing campaigns? Design thinking can help better understand the customer’s journey as they go through the process right from how they develop a need for the product, how they encounter it, what factors go into decision-making etc.

In the above example, buying soap may not be a highly involved process. But what if we are talking about selling financial products? Buying financial products can be a very complex process that involves multiple stakeholders and influencers. A design thinking approach can help better understand the buying journey and design the flow of the campaign such that it is most effective at targeting the customer at every stage of the buying journey whether they are awareness, interest or decision stage.

On all counts, adopting a design thinking approach to run your marketing campaigns is certainly  a great way to up your marketing game.


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