Tag Archives: Lectures

Applying My Lectures

I spent some times re-writing my lecture notes last week and even though at times I thought: “why on earth am I doing this, stop it now”, it was actually really useful. There were a few occasions where I felt things clicking and realised ah okay, I get that now. It also gave me a chance to look through the  notes on the lectures (on the course blog) and read about some of the points in more depth. Re-writing the notes took far too long, I would need to watch that in the future, but the practice of going over things again definitely seemed to work for me. If I did it weekly (I had two weeks worth) and kept on top of it that would make it much more manageable and worthwhile.

I am not planning to bore you by reiterating my lectures by the way so bear with me.

Oh and one last thing, my writing ends up as large scrawls sometimes so by writing it out again I am keeping good notes that I can revisit in the future. I would actually like to do my dissertation on something to do with marketing so they could prove valuable to me next year. So, I think I have just about convinced myself that it’s a good thing to do (even though it’s time consuming).

Anyway. Once I had finished re-writing them (and reading) I thought it would be nice to quickly test out some of the things on Pillow Talk. If you don’t already know, Pillow Talk is a new interactive product by DJCAD graduate Joanna Montgomery that helps long distance couples feel more connected. You may remember I did a workshop last week where we practiced using marketing tools, for the first time, on Joanna’s invention and company, Little Riot.

The first thing we were introduced to in our first lecture was the concept of a ‘brand’ – what it is, what it isn’t and how it’s much more than you think it is.

“A brand is a collection of functional and emotional values and together promise an experience”

You should be able to see these values on things like livery, advertising and packaging. They should also be part of the companies position in the market, it’s personality, it’s expertise. While these things are “intangible” they are just as important, if not more. I looked at two of these “intangible” qualities, Personality and Culture, thinking about how Little Riot, as a brand, would want to come across.

From this, I tried to see how this friendly, sensitive character would translate over to some packaging:

I then moved on to consider what the customer might want from the brand or the product. My lecturer told us about Theadore Levitt,  an American economist and professor. In his book, Marketing Myopia, he makes the point that when customers buy 1/4 inch drill bits what they really want 1/4 inch holes…I looked him up and he seems to concentrate on getting business to ask:

“What business are we in?”

In the drill-bits case, is the  company in the business of making drill-bits OR the means of making holes in material?Do they invest in manufacturing faster, stronger drills or in new technology that could make better holes, such as lasers. A way to help you answer this question for your business is considering what customers want or need. So, I tried this out with Pillow Talk:

As you can see I have tried to match up these ‘wants’ with the benefits of Pillow Talk. In my lecture, we were told that it is best to concentrate on the benefits of the product –  i.e. what can they use it for – apposed to the make-up of the product – i.e. how many USB ports it has. I don’t think these two things are meant to be connected together like this but I think it works. It lets you see whether or not the ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ of your customers have a relation to the features and benefits that your product has.

However, different people and indeed markets would ‘want’ different things from the product. I thought about this when I started to look at ‘Objectives’. An example of a typical business objective would be “increase sales”. It sounds monotonous though doesn’t it? My lecturer told us that objectives like that are not specific enough and that it is hard to judge whether or not they have been successful. He then introduced us to SMART Objectives:

Here is a SMART Objective I did for Pillow Talk:

It should say “who have a good grasp…”, sorry. This nevertheless reminded me of the Ansoff Matrix, one of the tools we practised using in our first workshop. I did a rough one just to see how my SMART Objective could be incorporated:

I have probably did this the wrong way round but nevertheless it let me see for myself how ‘marketing tools’ could produce SMART Objectives! I left the OAPs behind however, and went back to my original target market (20-40 year old professionals), to do a Marketing Mix (Four P’s) analysis:

Here is what I came up with for ‘Place’:

I covered most of the tools on the workshop last week, albeit with a slightly different target audience, so I shall move onto my second lectures notes:

The first thing we considered was how very often the people who buy things are not the people who use them. You need to think about this difference because these people might have different ‘wants’ or ‘needs’. Breakfast cereal is a good example: the mum might buy it but it’s her children who eat it. These children might want to eat sugary, chocolate cereals where as mum might prefer to buy something more nutritious like oat clusters. She is not going to buy the clusters however if she knows the children won’t eat them. Solving alignment problems like this is rather difficult. Finding the problem in the first place is simpler – ask yourself who your customers are, then who your consumers are.

(I also noted down that the nature and price of the product meant it was an unlikely ‘gift’ from a third party)

Once you know who your customers are  you can start to analyze them a bit more. Two main ways of examining customers is: as market segments or as a set of attributes. Segmentation, according to The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier, means:

“The process of dividing a market into subcategories of people who share similar values and goals”

Thus, a market segment is:

“a group of people who are likely to respond to a given marketing effort in a similar way”

I tried to create a segment for Pillow Talk by firstly breaking ‘long distance couples’ down into ‘long distance couples because of work’.

As you can see I even went a little further into a particular profession: Acting. There will be lot’s of location filming going on in the world of acting for example. There is even different types of actors you could segment off too I guess, concentrating it even further e.g touring theatre companies.

This theory is illustrated in the “elephant story” my lecturer told us: There is a group of people in a room with a wooden floor. An elephant is then lead around the room by a very slight woman wearing heels. Once she and the elephant leave, the people leave too and a new set of people come in. How could the new people tell that anyone had been there before them?

The answer? The woman would have left heel marks in the wooden floor. If you think about it, the elephant would not have left any marks because it’s weight is evenly spread. The woman on the other hand, slight as she may be, is focusing her weight on two small points. The moral of the story in marketing terms is that you’re more likely to leave a mark by focusing. If you try to spread your weight you won’t leave a mark, i.e if you try to make your product as universal as possible you’re not going to make an impression on the market.

So, focusing in on one single group of people, one segment is a good marketing strategy. It also relates to Pareto’s 80:20 Rule: roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. So, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. For that reason, it would be a good idea to concentrate more on that 20%, rather than trying to please everyone. How can you help them? Of course you need to make sure you don’t ignore the other 80% as well. It’s an out of balance, balancing act I suppose you could say! My lecturer mentioned that Amazon took advantage of Borders focus on 20% of their stock. The way Amazon operates allows them to stock books that Borders would have to order in. Meeting this small demand for less know titles gave Amazon an edge that Borders, unfortunately, fell over. This can be illustrated in a statistic known as “the Long Tail”.

With Borders, if you wanted a book that was unpopular and fell in the ‘yellow’ proportion of the % of sales you would have to wait weeks for it. They didn’t stock it in shops, in fact they might not have even stocked it at all. Amazon on the other hand would most probably have one or two copies that would be shipped out to you in a matter of days.

Now, moving onto customer attributes – which means their “characteristics”. In my lecture we also looked at customer behavior alongside this as well. Investigating ‘what’ and ‘why’ people buy things can help you decide how to market your product. The ‘what’ is more physical, what have they bought? How many? The ‘why’ is more psychological and I must admit, made me feel a teeny bit uncomfortable.

As you can see from my notes on the subject, the ‘why’ can be broken down into ‘rational’ reasons and ‘irrational’ reasons. Irrational sounds worse than it is; in this context it means the emotional reasons – apparently. I actually managed to come up with more ‘irrational’ reasons people would buy Pillow Talk…

This is most likely due to the emotional nature of the product. I will however try to think about this again and be more rational! Anyway, these irrational (or rational) reasons can then be translated as benefits which the company can advertise. These benefits will, as I mentioned earlier, be more likely to sell the product: people buy benefits, they buy what a product can do for them. Here are my ‘selling benefits notes’ for Pillow Talk:

Marketing campaigns can play up to irrational ‘why’s or can, just as importantly, ‘counter them’. (I like the latter scenario better) If you look at my Lecture notes (2 up) you can see the car campaign idea.

It supported the decision to do the ‘rational’ thing (the right thing?). My two scenarios for Pillow talk tide towards irrational reasons. I would like to revisit this and try to play more towards the rational reasons. I would like to come back to it with some new knowledge from future lectures or indeed new knowledge of the product. I think I need to get a better understanding of how customer behavior is perceived in advertising terms.


Just out of a lecture from Kate Pickering and Fraser Bruce who were telling us about the opportunities that the Duncan Of Jordanstone M(Des) program has to offer. It was really nice to listen to Kates story; how she struggled in the ‘real world’ after her degree and realised just how hard it was to set herself up in business; how she wasn’t initially very good at talking about her work so faced a lot of rejection from craft fares; how she felt she was equipped  to make jewellery but not to actually be a jeweller.

What she was equipped for though was how to be a designer and after returning to DJCAD to do her masters degree she realised what she could do with her designer knowledge. She has worked on projects for Deutsche Telekom and was part of Dr Rosan Chows research into the RIP+Mix method of creating innovative ideas. Using the experience from her masters she is now working on setting up her own ‘Social Enterprise’ business Vanilla Ink. The hope is that it provised the missing link between University and the scary world of industry. It will support jewellery designers (and indeed other designers) by teaching them the skills they need for the business side of making jewellery.

It sounds brilliant, I’ve had a look around the blog for Vanilla Ink (which aims to have a physical space all set up by 2012). I was sitting there at one point thought thinking do they not teach little one year business courses at colleges? BUT what Kate is offering is actually much more refined. It is aimed at craftspeople, particularly jewellers  and as well as providing classes on ‘the business side of things’ it will provide a workshop where they can still make their jewellery. From reading the blog I can see that actually this kind of specialised support is actually something we really need. It has sooo much opportunity for growth as well. Thinking about it from a graphic design point of view she could set up a kind of ‘gumtree’ thing, where any of the jewellers on the course could advertise what they need. For example they would need business cards and websites – they could freelance these out to students like me who over the summer would have plenty time to work for them! It would be a chance for us to get some experience and possibly even money doing something to do with our degree, rather than working in Tesco.

Anyway, back on topic: What is RIP+MIX? Well, when Fraser Bruce first introduced it to use he showed us this video:

Good eh? It was part of a lecture from Professor Lawrence Lessig, who is a Law Professor at Stanford University, he has a blog but I don’t think he uses it very much! I am going to watch the full TED talk he gave, but the basic idea was, he wanted to make it legal to “re-create”. From my understanding of it today, he was talking about taking two things and combining them, using the media technology we have today, to make something new. He wanted this not to be seen as “copyright”. This is kind of how I visualized it:

Existing material *sparks new ideas + gets mixed with technology = new ‘thing’

This is where  RIP+Mix comes in. Fraser Bruce was telling us how the M(Des) team became ‘dj’s’ by looking at say a radio (this was his example), ripping out the “knowledge” (apparently every artefact has knowledge – this was something i’ve been pondering since the lecture and am trying to grasp the concept of. I think he means for example, my phone: what does it do? how does it do it? how do I use it? > we can ask or observe how things work and how people use them to learn about them and apply what we learn about them to other things) Then mixing it with the knowledge we gained from another thing – say a bus stop. This “mixing” will then generate lots of new ideas for products, such as a station that tells you when your bus is near or late or broken down.

That was obviously just an example and by the sounds of the technique will generate lots of crazy ideas. I LOVE crazy ideas though because sometimes within the craziness you find some sense. This RIPing and Mixing is something that I would like to test out for myself, perhaps with my current project on the charity Oxfam. So far we are just doing research but in a couple of weeks time we will find out what we have to design, maybe I could RIP up charity shops and goats? Irrigation systems and Arms campaigns?

Post Lecture Thoughts…

My ‘Christmas Shopping’ lecture asked us to question the ‘value’ of presents. From a quick ‘put your hands up’ exercise we all noticed that our favorite gifts were not the expensive gifts we had ever had. In fact, most of the things we treasured were actually worth very little. It was the meaning behind them – who bought it, why they bought it etc.

This idea was reinforced when I picked up the metro on the subway in Glasgow. The front page had an open letter written by Sarah Jane Fields to “the man who stole my car on Wednesday”. The point of the letter was that she actually didn’t care too much about her car. What she cared about was that without  the car (and because of the fuss of having it stolen) she was unable to visit her father before he died.

This is where the meaning of ‘meaning’ comes in and as a designer this is something I will need to get to grips with. From this story I can recognize a hierarchy of meaning, or perhaps link is the right word. Her car meant she could visit her father who meant everything to her. The cars function, in the specific situation of her life, at the time (when the man stole it) meant that it actually also meant everything to her. More meaning than usual was reflected onto her car if you like.

This will teach me to not only consider the meaning of whatever I am designing but also the possible meanings which it could have.

(Sarah’s story: www.metro.co.uk

Pre Lecture Thoughts…

My lecture tomorrow morning (the last one before the holidays) (yippe!) is, very fittingly, about Christmas shopping.

This made me think about Christmas presents.

The set of bunk-beds my papa made for my dolls is most definitely up there with my favorite Christmas presents. They were painted blue (my favorite colour at that age) with illustrations of teddy bears on the side. He even made a mini set of ladders! Once I was older he also made me a sledge which secured my place in nearly every single sledge race I ever competed in. One present I cannot leave out was my Little Tikes kitchen because I can vividly remember lining up all of my toys along the living room and making them dinner. I also fed plastic sausages to all the relatives and neighbors who visited that Christmas too. Of the three I would say the kitchen was probably my favorite gift purely because it sparks off the most memories for me.

Fast forward about fifteen years and I can see from the Early Learning Centre and Argos catalogue that they don’t make kitchens like they use to… I also, unfortunately no longer have said kitchen. I still have the bunk-beds and sledge up in the loft however and probably always will.


I have been thinking a lot about my recent conundrum: (do I think) That Josiah Wedgewood devalued pottery? (see this post)

Josiah Wedgwood use to work as a ‘thrower’ but an attack of smallpox meant he had to have his leg amputated. This mean’t he couldn’t work the machine he used as a ‘thrower’; he instead got more involved with the craft itself, the designs and the modelling. He started to experiment with clay mixes which made more durable crockery. His Etruria factory had a village attached to it where his workmen could live with their families. His interest in science and technology brought about new production methods as well as glazes which furthered strengthened his pottery.

Let’s also not forget, his interest in selling all this high-tech pottery brought about the construction of the canal system too!

His motivation was to make more money selling pottery that he couldn’t make himself anymore. So he did his research, made some discoveries and employed people to make his super durable, super glazed pottery. He did an awful lot of good for the industry yes, in fact he practically created it. Thats the thing though – HE created it all.

What if…he had applied his discoveries to the craft of pottery rather than to himself. What if he showed the craftsmen how to mix their clay and glaze their pots better. What if he had built the canal system with the intention of letting the potters sell their wares to bigger markets?

He would still have thought BIG but just applied it differently. Applied his ideas to the craft rather than applying the craft to his ideas. His thinking could have strengthened the craft of pottery – rather than (perhaps) diluting it.