My desk is a mess, strewn with resumes and portfolios. I’ve just completed weeks of interviewing to find a new designer to add to our team. The process resulted in an inbox inundated with cover letters, resumes and digital portfolios, each representing a hopeful person who’s put many hours of hard work into their craft. As this process always does, it got my mind focused on the answer to the question, what makes for great design?
There are a myriad of answers, for sure. Composition, smart type, delightful illustration, good Adobe chops, collaboration, unfettered creativity or a good sense for visual tension—these all matter. But, the only crucial component of great design is a great idea. Without a great idea, you’ve got nothing.
I constantly asked interviewees, “What was your idea behind this piece?” or “Tell me what problem you were trying to solve here?” as we reviewed their work. I wanted to get past the visual design and understand their thinking, the power of their ideas.
As our tag line implies, we’re looking for problem solvers and that demands people who have great ideas. Technical proficiency and creative talent sure make a difference but, really, they’re just cost of entry. What separates the good from the great is the power of their thinking. No matter how hot a design or how slick a presentation, in the end great design depends on great ideas.
I took part in a recent panel discussion as part of DrupalCamp WNY. "What's Drupal", you say? You can learn more here, although this post really is not about Drupal—it's about how marketers promote.
The topic was Selling Drupal with the idea that the audience, mainly Drupal developers, would learn how to do a better job selling Drupal to their clients and prospects.
In preparation for the discussion I spent some time thinking about how BWC typically sells Drupal and realized that we don't sell Drupal!
We never walk into a client or prospect meeting trying to figure out how we can sell one thing or another. We do, however, walk into every meeting with clients and prospects thinking about how we can understand their problem and how we can help them solve it.
And, sometimes, that includes Drupal.
I know this is simple stuff and that you already know marketing should be value-focused. All marketers are focused on solving a problem, meeting a need, scratching an itch, right? But, how often do you see, of have you succumbed to, marketing that hawks a product or service without any recognition of the value it provides it's targets?
If you feel like you've fallen into that trap think for a moment about what problems you solve. Forget your services, products and unique offerings for a minute and just focus on your prospects' needs. How does your company meet those needs? How does it solve those problems?
If you can answer those questions you've got the foundation for great messaging; you can stop trying to sell product and start solving problems.