Technical: User Experience (UX) design in marketing

User Experience (UX) design is the craft of creating experiences that people love. It has come out of the technology and graphic design space and complements User Interaction (UI) design, which is the design of objects that people interact with. The base unit of the design process in the user, which means that you can develop empathy through user journeys, understanding relationships between users and identifying the Jobs To Be Done.

How to think about UX design in marketing

Below I’ve outlined how you can use UX design to design a robust and sustainable marketing process. This perspective applies to apps (the context in which I learnt it), video, websites, presentations and many other business assets.

The chronological process is as follows:

  1. Identify the different users
  2. Understand the Jobs To Be Done for each user
  3. Explore the frictions for each user relationship and the incentives that will compel people to overcome the frictions

Your design solution sits in that blue space in the centre.

UX Design 2

Now it’s much easier to add complexity than remove it, so rather than seeking to simplify everything, start with one Job To Be Done for your marketing process or asset. You can then create something user-friendly and simple, if you need to add complexity you can, but your design will be more effective if you whittle down your purpose to one.

Managing UX design in professional services

This is hard in professional services as you will often have a committee of partners who all want input. They will also lean towards text-based solutions, which are inappropriate in many contexts, such as apps, social media and adverts.

If you are working on a large project, such as app development, then there is a trick to managing this. Establish upfront that you are the final decision maker, there is a core team of 2-3 people with technical skills that do the testing and review, and everyone else sits on an Advisory Board and inputs into only the most relevant decisions. If you don’t do this, your app will take about 5 times as long to make.

In the case of building marketing processes, you may be the only person working on it. In that case you will just come across as helping everyone by making their processes more user-friendly for them.

A practical example: The speaking industry

Let’s apply this technique to the speaking an events industry to improve the emails sent out by speakers. We’ll loosely apply a UX design lens to the emails and see what comes out – this needs to be made specific to each speaker’s topic and market, but I want to show you how to think about it in context.

We have three main user groups: speakers, event attendee, and event organisers.

UX Design - Events

I want to take a moment to investigate the frictions in more detail.

  • Event attendee – event organiser: Both sides bring cynicism to the relationship. The attendee is cynical because they believe that the organiser just wants to make sales as bums on seat or of their product or service. The event organiser may be driven by the desire to change lives at a macro level, but in the day-to-day they need to create a profitable event and an event attendee represents money in the bank. Event organisers also want to charge as much as possible for the event while event attendees want to pay as little as possible. So our incentives need to overcome these frictions.
  • Event organiser – speaker: The event organiser needs the speaker to bring in paying attendees to cover costs while the speaker wants to get paid for the value they bring (leading to increased costs). The event organiser will try to get as much from the speaker for free as possible to tackle this balance between accounts payable and accounts receivable. A typical conference with about 100-150 attendees at a 5* hotel has about US$ 30,000 in direct costs and US$70,000 in indirect costs, so a speaker fee really has an impact. Even at an in-house event using company resources you are looking at US$ 5,000 – US$ 10,000 and you often don’t have direct revenues to ease the financial burden. Then there is the fact that your event organiser may well have some specialty in the subject matter, but it likely be less than your or your audience’s specialty. That means that they may not have the necessary tools to assess your attractiveness to the audience and so they may rely on subjective markers.
  • Event attendees – speaker: The event attendees want to learn from the speaker something that will transform their life in a digestible way. Events are intense and tiring (especially for the 20% of people who are introverts). There is a balancing act between what you have to teach and what they want to learn, they may not match up. The information also needs to be digestible in the context it’s being used by the event attendee (or prospective event attendee).

There are far more frictions to consider, but I hope you see that this process can help you let go of any empathetic or creative biases you may be carrying around. That will let you open up new ways of solving unmet needs.

What would the email look like?

Again, it really depends on the speaker’s specific business. You need to work out your one Job To Be Done by that specific email and the overall campaign so that you create something simple and succinct.

Here is a list of the types of things you might want to try:

UX Design - Email 2

Speaker next steps

I discovered that many of the speakers I spoke to about this little thought experiment hadn’t put thought into what event organisers need from them. They had an entire user group they weren’t considering. Next steps that chimed included creating a number of email templates – one for the attendee audience, tow industry versions for the attendee audience (your core industry and your best growth industry) and one for event organisers.

Email template for event organisers: There are three Jobs To Be Done with this email: educate the event organiser about their industry, stay front of mind between bookings, and set up reciprocity. Some ideas we had about what could go into this email:

  • How to grow your public voice tips
  • Emceeing tips for the house keeping points many organisers have to do
  • Building presence – a speaker compared with a keynote speaker
  • Trends in relevant industries

Include competency markers in that email, lower down or in a side bar where you won’t distract from the main Job To Be Done. Competency markers include: testimonials, upcoming speaking events, relevant news items etc.

Feel free to contact me through the contact form or on LinkedIn Instant Message if you want to better understand the ideas listed here and how they might apply to you.


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