Last week I spent a full day in Augusta, Maine at the Momentum Convention sponsored by MaineBiz. My favorite part of the day was Doug Hall‘s key note presentation. He is a native Mainer filled with energy and excitement about Maine, innovation and commercializing ideas and… well, he’s just full of energy, period.
Hall started by defining innovation as meaningful uniqueness. But he has a true capitalist streak, and he also made sure to mention that it also has to be something customers are willing to pay for.
This guy talked my talk. I don’t want to just create to be creative, I want to create something that is meaningful to my end customers. Since most of my customers are business people, it often means designing something that will make them money. It may be directly in the form of a book they sell or an e-commerce web site, or less directly by designing a results-driven marketing web site.
Bringing innovation to market
Hall went on to explain that to get a profitable innovation to market we need to:
In my role as a designer, Visible Logic is usually hired by our clients to help with #2—communicating. I am charged with building web site or brochures or book covers that help our clients communicate what they are offering to their end customers. Basically this is marketing.
Doug also had a 3-step summary of how marketing should work:
- problem: identify your customer’s pain point
- promise: promise the benefits that will alleviate the problem
- proof: use the product or service as the proof of how you’ll fix their problem
Obviously, I’m oversimplifying Doug’s talk. I suggest you seek out an opportunity to hear him talk or go and take some of his workshops if you can. I hope I’m able to some time.
In the meantime, I want to be able to take his energy and proven methods of creating profitable innovation to all of my design projects. How do I plan to do this?
- Help my clients to be more benefits focused. Often when I am designing a web site or a brochure my client gives me a ton of information about themselves, but not much else. I need to sort through that information and present their business as the solution to their client’s problem. In the layout of a web site or a printed brochure, the benefits-related text needs to lead. In all mediums, the design needs to emphasize and visually articulate the benefits.
- Ensure that the text is following the same focus as the design. We work with a number of talented writers and they need to part of nearly every project we do, even if the client does realize the importance up front. As a branding agency steeped in graphic design talent our clients see us as designers first. We need to do a better job showing the benefits of marrying great copy to great design.
- Remind our clients that people will pay a premium price for a well branded product or service. Hall showed a large variety of consumer products that showed some sort of new innovation. For example, he showed some Olay moisturizing products that featured a new anti-aging formula. In addition to the new formula there is a new brand identity with new packaging. It is the commercializing (and branding) of the innovation that makes a profit for the company.
As I mentioned, Doug Hall was full of energy. You could certainly call him a motivational speaker as I came away from the keynote address full of ideas and excitement. But he said he didn’t want to be just another speaker who suggests a new “system” that you never implement. He was hoping to be an inspiration by using data-driven models for sparking and commercializing innovation. I hope the details of his talk continue to play in my mind as I help bring new products and services (for our clients and for Visible Logic) to market.
What did you takeaway from the Momentum Convention in general, or from Doug Hall’s keynote speech?