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The Marketing Vs Ux Debate

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#1 cre8pc


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 11:11 AM

I always get a kick out of the "my dad is better than your dad" war between marketers and seo's. So these posts caught my eye:

The marketing view of user-centred design

Frankly I am appalled that this old and dated premise - first you develop a product, then you market it - is still so much alive.

User-centred design is just about the opposite: first you understand the “market”, then you develop the product or service based on this understanding. If you do it that way, the actual “marketing” becomes a piece of cake, as products and services are conceived from end-user needs to begin with.

Get Radical -- Radically Customer-Centric, That Is

Social media monitoring is increasingly playing a valuable role as peer recommendations remain among the most trusted sources of product information. Understanding where customers congregate and monitoring those conversations, is aiding in the development of more relevant channel plans.

Social media monitoring combined with traditional media consumption research and analytics is creating radically customer-centric, high performance media plans.

When UX Misunderstands Marketing…

More disturbing about the Putting people first post, however, is the view of marketing as easy, or a “piece of cake” with good products and services. This could imply that UX or UCD is superior to marketing. While this post was not smug, I hear many smug comments from UX professionals about marketing. I am afraid they will interpret the post as more justification to keep doing so. If a smug attitude toward marketing is growing in the UX community, it needs to stop. Why? Because the UX and marketing communities need to collaborate well to create the best possible customer experience.

I'm with Colleen Jones (admittedly, I'm a huge fan of hers).

What can we learn here?

#2 bwelford


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:10 PM

Good topic, Kim. :infinite-banana:

Unfortunately my response has got to be, Watch This Space. This is a great discussion but it's missing an element that will be the center point of the next Marketing article on the Creative Flow blog. That should be available early Tuesday morning next week. I will join in the discussion here at that point.

By the way, this is not a setup on Kim's part to give advance publicity. It's just a coincidence of timing.

#3 iamlost


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 12:32 PM

I should just like to take this opportunity to say that my mom can whip both your guys' dads with one hand otherwise occupied ('cause mom's multitask). :infinite-banana:

I should further like to say that my mom says, nay requires, that we all play nicely together and s-h-a-r-e.

Which is where all these 'my new or improved secret sauce' methods fall apart. They simply institute their dominance in place of whatever they are dissing. The king is dead, long live the king.

Let me introduce two really cool words:
synergism: the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc. (Dictionary.com)

syzygy: the straight line alignment of at least three celestial objects. The alignment of gravitational forces maximises the pull (root is from 'yoke', as in pulling together, as yoke of oxen).

...first you understand the “market”, then you develop the product or service based on this understanding...

Product and service should not be conjoined in this argument.

By the time product manufacturers have understood the market it has passed them by and their product is a couple of years out of date. Creators of products, other than for the necessities of life, need to be futurists, years ahead of the market curve simply due to the lead time required to bring product to market.

It is also the mantra of large corporations. Smaller enterprises work off the inspiration of at most a few individuals, not the expensive forecasts of marketers and focus groups feeding into R&D departments which need to be kept occupied. It also explains the 'me too' lack of inspiration in the products of big companies.

Service providers, however, need to shift with the market, because they supply the 'now'. A service provider who loses touch with where the market s/he services 'is' will soon have very unhappy ex-clients.

Social media monitoring combined with traditional media consumption research and analytics is creating radically customer-centric, high performance media plans.

Perhaps it should but in practice not bloody likely, not bloody often.

The main difficulty is that while many tout SM few actually understand how to use it, leverage it, or combine it with traditional research. The hype is deafening, the meat is generally absent.

Because the UX and marketing communities need to collaborate well to create the best possible customer experience.

Don't stop there. Yes, I know the article context is self-limiting but still: don't stop there. We have developed the worst of all possible corporate structures: hierarchical and segmented. Cross communication is structurally deficient.

We need to change from the Queen Anne military model to a more fluid more guerrilla structure, coming together and moving apart as needs and goals dictate. Back in the old days of face to face Queen Anne was the way to go - but we have made significant communication advances since then. We have the technology to do better. Just not the trust in our fellow man and the fear of equivalency.

#4 iamlost


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 01:07 PM

As Barry says, this is a timely topic, not simply because of his upcoming blog post, but because more and more SEO individuals and firms are broadening their scope. Their services are no longer just 'site, SE. SE, site' optimised introductions but deep involvement in clients' business and marketing plans.

The key concepts to remember are flow and economy, and simply put, if you want to get the most out of your business you need to keep things moving along smoothly.

So why, when it comes time for companies to develop their digital strategies, do executives allow their organization to mutate into territories of business functions that do not work together and often fight each other, and not into elements of a system working together?
Let's turn the focus to your digital strategy -- or lack of one.
So to help put you on the right footing, make no mistake: doing business online is just that -- a business initiative. As with any revenue generating function, the online business needs a full time manager, an individual that is focused on the needs of the project in sum of all it parts.
It turns out that SEO is not just optimization for search engines, nor is it a bailout of any kind. It is education, planning and communication. SEO is measuring all the functions across your company that go into your online business initiative. SEO helps you to maximize the ability of your company to communicate and to distribute your products and services through search engines to the end users which are your prospective clients.

SEO Bailout or Digital Initiative

Frankly, most of that has little to do with SEs. It is empire building if within a company, billing scope creep if from outside. It is the old saw nature hates a vacuum and some SEOs are simply moving into a corporate structural hole.

Yes, many factors influence and hinge upon SEO but so too with every other webdev subdiscipline: usability, accessibility, design, DB, marketing, conversion, et al ad nauseum.

And frankly, many self proclaimed SEOs (Note: NOT referencing Bruce Clay Inc.) who are now demanding the keys to clients' online kingdoms don't understand SEO let alone the rest of what they are 'taking over'.

SEO is not some magic pill, SEOs can not wave magic wands or kiss it better. But then most corporate CEOs couldn't start an enterprise from scratch yet they get given the helm of an inertial monster. Fact is so much weirder than fiction.

#5 DCrx


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 01:49 PM

Sounds like a turf war. It makes more sense by putting it not in who can beat whom, but the squabbling between programmers and designers about who has the final say.

Power politics, methinks.

A nice article is How Direct Marketing and User Experience Are the Same

The problems come in when marketing gets one set of data which seems to conflict with design -- coupled with an inability to explain the discrepancy.

Here's a simple rift issue. Have a product loaded with features and shoppers pull that box off the shelf more frequently. That's the data.

Check the product returns and 75% of the feature loaded products customers return work. That's the data.

You can, with marketing and design both grounded in data, start a spirited argument. But what's really happening is only visible when you understand Shopping and Use as two different contexts.

A product crowded with features may be more attractive to consumers in the store, but too many features make a product overwhelming and hard to use, which leads to dissatisfaction with the product and perhaps even with the company. Even though people want more features, companies need to balance initial purchases against long–term satisfaction and repurchases.
—Feature Fatigue

Shoppers interact with packaging. Barring use the only decision they can make is feature lists. Getting the thing home, they find the features are an unmanageable mess. That's usually because the project is lopsided, with one or more political groups with most of the power.

Part of the reason Apple can go into a market and make waves is it isn't myopic about features, but focussed on how groups of features work together. As long as competitors fight over feature lists, Apple is going to eat their lunch.

A way to chart this is using a Venn diagram as I have done here. You can predict how a project will self destruct and what defects it will have using a simple set of questions.

It has nothing to do with designers being on top of the political pyramid, or marketing. It's about a proper management of dynamic tension and balance.


Feature Bloat: The Product Manager's Dilemma Consumers think they want all the bells and whistles—until they actually use what turns out to be a very complicated product.

Edited by DCrx, 04 October 2008 - 01:54 PM.

#6 iamlost


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 05:37 PM

When the user experience is the marketing, the line between marketing and user experience blurs. So, within a specific company, where does the marketing role end and the user experience role begin?
Marketing tends to represent company goals...while user experience tends to represent customer goals...
I’m not sure exactly where the strategic work of synchronizing company and customer goals lies, but I do know user experience needs to be involved in that work. Further complicating matters in larger companies is the channel silo. When marketing and user experience roles focus on specific channels with little coordination across them, creating a holistic customer experience is tough. ... I see value, too, in bringing the UX professionals who designed a product into the product’s marketing...

Marketing Isn't a Dirty Word

I’m not sure exactly where the strategic work of synchronizing company and customer goals lies... That had better be in the company marketing plan. If a company does not continually work to better understand that interface they will ultimately fail. And the better the mesh at that jointure the greater the company's success.

[C]omplicating matters in larger companies is the channel silo. Yup, the structural deficiencies inherent in a typical hierarchial segmented system. Internal turf wars continually redirecting misappropriated vitality.

Ocassionally a company borrows the military solution and appoints a task force drawn from everywhere to tackle a specific problem. A temporary solution to a permanent disability. If such task forces become de rigueur the rigid structure becomes lessof a drag. Unfortunately such behaviours are usually tied to a leading individual and fade once that person leaves.

Until that disability is attacked and 'cured' cross purposes will continue to be far more common than cross communication. I expect that America (USA) where competition is seen as good/capitalist/strong and cooperation is seen as bad/socialist/weak will be the last to change.

Which implies interesting potential consequences.

#7 DonnaFontenot


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Posted 04 October 2008 - 06:08 PM

After dealing with a houseful of people I've never met before at my granddaughter's birthday party today, this thread is probably more complex than my little brain can handle today. But I just had to comment on one thing:

from iamlost:

.... syzygy .....

I saw that word and thought it was you speaking in Snoop Dog language.

And now..i'm gonna go lay down.

#8 DCrx


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Posted 05 October 2008 - 04:54 AM

Let's heap a little of the responsibility on the shoddy methodology of UX itself. User experience design is mostly using the warmed over leftovers from usability testing; and as far as I can tell flat out refuses to mature.

And UX has the same recipe for mischief as the word branding does. Nebulous all encompassing terms like User Experience are usually designed to take all the credit whilst side stepping any responsibility for results.

While a beautiful vehicle for a naked power grab, I don't see any other purpose for the term.

I have critiqued the lack of emotional design and persuasive design methods before. Without this, UX has no place at the table with those who can point to a test conducted, as many in marketing can.

Sure a UX wonk can go off for an hour about "engagabity." What they refuse to do is define user engagement, test for the level of user engagement, or show a connection between a change in engagability and financial results. When the UX people point to a usability test, and then insist it proves more than it does, they lose credibility.

Nobody who pulls the kind of slight-of-hand I've seen from UX folk should be taken seriously. UX is a mile wide and a micron deep.

Worst of all, UX seems mired in one media, the web. Hardly the stuff of an all encompassing design driven company strategy akin to marketing strategy. A company can be marketing driven.

Most UX people don't have the wherewithal to even comprehend how a company can be design driven. It simply doesn't exist as a strategic direction.

In other words, you can say marketing driven and while technology and design may grit their teeth, they have some vague notion of what that means.

...The company as playground for designers to indulge their creative whims, yes. A serious business strategy with clear competitive advantages and clear roles for technology and business ...not so much.


Most Designers aren’t Design Thinkers - Yet Most designers haven't climbed the design maturity ladder. Unless they do, they have no business even entertaining the notion of a power grab to get to the level marketing enjoys.

Edited by DCrx, 05 October 2008 - 05:15 AM.

#9 cre8pc


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Posted 05 October 2008 - 02:34 PM

How do we stop the following?

A big company buys up ad space in search engine, spending about $100,000, to advertise the launch of a new online product in 2 days.

The product is still in QA, not signed off on, not ready for Production. It's literally not working, not passing performance testing and has had no user or usability testing whatsoever.

This happens over and over and over...by huge companies.

We talk about waste and greed. It's always bothered me that companies allow their marketing people to sell products that don't work.

#10 iamlost


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Posted 05 October 2008 - 03:16 PM

We talk about waste and greed. It's always bothered me that companies allow their marketing people to sell products that don't work.

That is either incompetence in the company's command and control structure, fear of stockholders and the next earnings report, greed tied to short term bonus agreements, or the entire point of the modern system.

Otherwise known as damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Which is a great rallying cry BUT what is never amended to that quotation is that that action caused the destruction of a number a ships and the loss of many lives (Note: he was also incorrect - there were mines not torpedoes and the action necessary to evade each is quite different.). What might be valid in war is not so great as a general business proposal release and iterate, beta forever!. At least not from the pov of employees who get laid off and customers who spend good money on crap.

Your choices are not buy or participate, lodge a complaint if law or regulation or ethics is violated, and not purchase equity in the firm or it's suppliers.
And post on the internet. :)

Reference: How To Push Down The Negative Comments In Serp

#11 DCrx


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Posted 06 October 2008 - 05:25 AM

I would point out, if poor word of mouth sends your badly designed product into a tailspin, greed is not served. But lazy is.

Once I figured out the crux -- it ceased to be a bother for me.

My argument would be companies aren't nearly greedy enough -- they're more lazy nowadays than they are greedy. Greedy people want both short term and long term profits, whatever it takes to get.

The lazy are obsessed with the quick score and gaming the system (Search Engines). The lazy are okay with leaving 80% of the profits on the table, if it means they can get 20% instantly.

The lazy are obsessed with denial their schemes will backfire and do the exact opposite to profits. Lazy people are obsessed with being clever and with image, not being substantively innovative.

You'll find lazy people obsessed with looking rich. You'd be surprised at the greedy people who look like paupers, they're obsessed with being rich.

I've seen the commercials featuring the "Easy" button. The lottery mentality sees money only as a path to "the easy life." Sorry, but we abandoned greedy as a society a long time ago as too much work. Companies don't lie for money anymore -- although money is a nice coincidental byproduct, now and then -- they lie to get out of doing the work.

That's how you go from a country who exports innovative products to one who exports debt instruments exploiting loopholes and legal maneuvers.

American companies now hoard patents for legal maneuvers, patents are no longer the byproduct of a culture of innovation. I was recently amused when Kodak, spelunking in their patent portfolio, was surprised they had figured out they could eliminate flash photography -- years ago.

Apparently you can actually put the stuff in your patent portfolio into products and out innovate rather than out litigate competitors ...who knew?

The truly greedy are paranoid that they're missing out on money. They're obsessed with the fear some innovative competitor could eat their lunch. That paranoia drives them to compete with themselves, obsoleting their own products with new ones. The truly lazy are monuments to the innovator's dilemma.

Detroit continuously produces tons of innovative concept cars -- for which they get publicity. The reason Detroit is on the rocks is they aren't getting publicity for the production cars in show rooms.

Here’s what you find at a lot of companies,” he says, kicking back in a conference room at Apple’s gleaming white Silicon Valley headquarters, which looks something like a cross between an Ivy League university and an iPod. “You know how you see a show car, and it's really cool, and then four years later you see the production car, and it sucks? And you go, What happened? They had it! They had it in the palm of their hands! They grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory!”
“What happened was, the designers came up with this really great idea. Then they take it to the engineers, and the engineers go, ‘Nah, we can't do that. That's impossible.’ And so it gets a lot worse. Then they take it to the manufacturing people, and they go, ‘We can’t build that!’ And it gets a lot worse.”
— How Apple Does It

Detroit used to produce legendary concept cars in production runs. They long ago figured out they can get the publicity for being innovative with concept cars that never ship. Greed isn't served, but lazy is.

Programmers and engineers and manufacturing might not be able to produce something because they, personally, don't have the skill. More likely it's not that they can't, it's that doing it would take -- in their estimation -- too much work.

They could build it, they just refuse. And innovation takes another one on the chin. Because the innovation which would produce a barrier to competition always seems like it couldn't be done before you try ...Otherwise It Wouldn't Be A Barrier.

Greed isn't served by "painting polka dots on yet another Edsel" but lazy is. Companies assume -- even when they've never actually tried -- making a design driven product is too much work.

The lazy are driven by assumptions about things they never actually try ...because that would be work. So user testing is automatically too much work (We don't know ...we never tried).

The greedy know the price of everything. Lazy companies "know" user testing is expensive -- even when they never price it. They know work when they see it, price is irrelevant.

You can get a greedy company to take action -- because avoiding action isn't the objective of a greedy company. You can't negotiate with a lazy company to take action when avoiding action is the objective of every negotiation.

Some few might celebrate greed, but they don't practice it. We'll go after the "Lazy Man's Way to Riches," but make no mistake ...lazy is a prerequisite to riches.

Edited by DCrx, 06 October 2008 - 07:13 AM.

#12 bwelford


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Posted 06 October 2008 - 08:20 AM

That's a great tirade, DCrx.

I relate a lot to what you're saying. However I think the labels of greedy versus lazy have some other connotations that may confuse. In the way used there, I think greedy might be goal-oriented, whereas lazy may be buzz-loving. Have I missed something?

#13 DCrx


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Posted 06 October 2008 - 08:55 AM

Have I missed something?

They are both goal oriented -- just having different goals.

The lazy reach their goals about as often as the greedy. It's just that the goal isn't money.

Edited by DCrx, 06 October 2008 - 08:56 AM.

#14 bwelford


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Posted 07 October 2008 - 09:34 AM

Going back to the original conflict between UX and Marketing, perhaps I can mention that in the latest MRN article, The Customer Is The Boss, I'm pushing very strongly the notion that it is very difficult for one person to really understand how another person is seeing and perceiving something. If either the UX professional or the Marketing person is seeing this only through their company spectacles, then they may well be wrong. They both have a great deal of knowledge and experience of their products from the company point of view. The prospect has little or none of that.

What either must work hard to do is really get the true perceptions of their prospect. That's easier said than done.

#15 DCrx


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Posted 07 October 2008 - 09:53 AM

That's easier said than done.

If you're a new field, like UX, wanting to play on the same level as marketing, then your price of admission is doing it. That's how you end the debate ...or at least that is how you hold up your end of the debate and earn a place at the table.

So far it's not a debate. It's UX talking to itself -- about itself.

At one time, the concept of the Graphic User Interface (GUI) held great promise in connecting marketing to technology, and there was much talk of the importance of user friendliness. Yet over time, the term GUI lost its meaning, devolving to technological window dressing—just an aesthetic veneer without much substance. Somehow, the user at the center of this concept began to vanish from the picture, in favor the graphics and the interface.

-- The Enterprise User Experience: Bridging the IT/Marketing Divide

I'd suggest reading the article, which lays out a practical working roadmap "Enterprise UX design operates between the marketing and technology worlds, creating practical tech-marketing deliverables that the enterprise can plan, map, prototype, test, refine, develop, and finally roll out to internal and external end users with great success."

But it can only happen with a methodology several orders of magnitude more sophisticated that what exists in the typical UX toolbox.

You got the fancy term, now prove it means something. Do that, and UX can trade in the debates for job interviews.

Edited by DCrx, 07 October 2008 - 10:07 AM.

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