How to Work More Effectively with Marketing Colleagues

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There is so much to take in and away from HOW Design Live every year. Throughout this second day in Boston, something we were especially tuned in to was the discussion around design and marketing.

2018 marks the first year that HOW Design Live has partnered with the American Marketing Association (AMA) to program HOW Marketing Live, a two-day program co-located with HOW Design Live. The goal is to help designers like you strengthen your collaboration with marketers. Why? Because, as you very likely know and have experienced firsthand, the business challenges of today and tomorrow depend on it.

Here are the top things we pulled away from today’s discussions that we think will help you to work more effectively with marketing colleagues and clients.

How to Work More Effectively with Marketing Colleagues

Aaron Keller, who is a founding partner and managing principal of Capsule and co-author of The Physics of Brand, spent the morning talking with HOW Design live attendees about marrying effective marketing and meaningful design.

Marketing and design have been intertwined for decades. They’re old friends, as Keller puts it. But they’ve never “been together” in quite the same way as they are today.

In addressing what’s next, Keller points out that it’s time for marketers and designers to get even closer. The goal is to have marketing and design getting beers together—literally! After all, it’s a natural behavior to want to spend our time amongst people who are like us, Keller says, but it’s beneficial on so many levels to mingle with people outside of your profession, too.

The Relationship Comes First

Douglas Spencer, who spoke at HOW Design Live today about how creatives can shift the world’s perception of their work, would agree. “Obviously there’s a divide that exists between executives and creatives,” Spencer says, “but we can work with that.”


Spencer, who is president of Spencer Brenneman, shares a two-step process for doing just that. First, like Keller, he notes the importance of working on the relationship—the relationship between a designer and a marketer. “Relationships are tough, he says. “You’ve got to work on every one of this, and this one is no exception”

One way Spencer shares for building a stronger relationship with your marketing colleagues and clients is to put yourself in their shoes. Practice empathy, and truly listen. “Strive first to understand before being understood,” Spencer says. Ask yourself what their motivations and challenges are. Try your best to question your perception of the other person and to imagine where they’re coming from, even if they say things that make you want to roll your eyes. For example, if they tend to bully you or other colleagues, think about who is bullying them. As one executive put it when interviewed by Spencer, “At the end of the day, it’s ‘my fault’ if it doesn’t work. Not the creative’s.”

Another way Spencer shares for building that relationship is to claim your place at the table. Show up to meetings with the confidence we all have a right to, knowing that you are an equal, even if some org chart would say otherwise. Help them understand your world a little better. This sets you both up for success as you dive into discussions of brand-building. 

Data-Driven Design and Marketing

Once a strong relationship is established between a designer and a marketer, Spencer says, it’s time to use data to bridge the gap. High-level goals, hypotheses, KPIs, development and testing, rinsing and repeating—if you ask Spencer, that’s what it’s all about.

Make sure that you and your marketing colleague (AKA your new BFF) agree on high-level goals. Eric Schultz, present/CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health, recommends saying something like, “Let’s make certain we agree on what data will help us to decide.” Then talk about what is most likely to meet that goal, whether it’s content marketing, digital advertising or emails, and how you’ll know whether your hypotheses are right (e.g., click-through and conversion rates).

It’s common to have thoughts about analytics being the death of creativity and so on, Spencer notes, but at the end of the day, data will come to the rescue—of both designers and marketers.


For the opportunity to see innovative speakers like Keller and Spencer in person, keep an eye on HOWDesignLive.com for soon-to-be-released HOW Design Live 2019 details. And then start planning!

The post How to Work More Effectively with Marketing Colleagues appeared first on HOW Design.

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