Jeremy Johnson
customer experience leader

past-blog

Tug of War (Will Marketing ever get on board?)

Tug of War Title I know we probably don't need another post describing the chasm between Marketing and Design, but here we go ;-) In recent years I've seen Marketing destroy good experiences for political reasons, timelines, advertising, and turf-wars. Of course these are the things that bother us Designers most. We want to produce a great product, something we're proud of and yes, even something that will help make the company money. The other day a graphic popped into my head. Besides the whims of the Marketing department (More Touchpoints!), these are the factors I see marketing using to create a product again and again:

Tug of War

(Download PDF Here - 64k)

Money, Focus Groups, Numbers, and Buzz. This is the deadly cocktail that will take a product from great to passable. Let me touch on each subject.

Money -

Marketing is in charge of getting you to take money out of your pocket, by force if necessary. Typical thought: "We make money on ads, we'll make more money with more ads.". While that almost makes sense, us users of the web know better.

Focus Groups -

Instead of observing people in their natural state of work, Marketing tends to fly people in, set them in a room and ask them questions. "What do you think of this?". Or, "which do you like better?". These end up being somewhat contrived, and not very useful.

Numbers -

Most Marketing Power Points I see are riddled with numbers that don't really mean anything. "90% of people buy things" - therefore if we sell something, someone will buy it. Or "MySpace has 30 million users", therefore our social website will do just as well.

Buzz -

The most fun to spot in a meeting, Buzz is responsible for many a fumbled project. While searching out and paying attention to trends is great. Spouting buzz words, and using buzz technologies as a product is not a good idea...

I've tried to balance this "Marketing Mix" with some good User Experience practices that can lead to a great product.

Common sense things like:

  • Using best practices for technology and UI
  • Staying ahead of the curve, and innovating
  • Defining what is useful and desirable to your customers
  • Viewing your customers in real world situations
  • Working with Marketing on defining Business Goals and make sure they are met (while advocating for the users!)

These are just a few User Experience practices that can help launch something you'll want your friends to know about.

If you're in Marketing I hope you can partner with your UX team as well as your development team and strike some middle ground. And if you're a User Experience Professional, remember to equally take into consideration timelines and business goals.