Design Thinking: MI Academy’s Playbook for Marketing Innovation


You’re faced with a problem…What do you do?

Some of us are get sh*t done right now kinda people, we see a problem and we take action straight away to fix it. Others sit back and get so stuck in the problem itself that they can’t see a viable solution so they forget about it and move on. There’s an issue with both of these reactions – you’re either taking no action or you’re taking action without truly understanding the problem.

I hate to break it to you, but asking a magic 8-ball why your new product isn’t selling or writing ‘make my online checkout better’ on your to-do list every day doesn’t count as manifesting a solution – the law of attraction only works if you do!

Mastering the skill of effective problem solving will truly transform the way your business works. You’ll have far fewer expensive and time-wasting flops and far more WINS.

There’s nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board every now and then but if you’re constantly running in a circle of the crash and repair you’re eventually going to tire, give-up or go broke.


Design thinking is a simple methodology to help drive innovation in your business and force (in a nice way) your team think more creatively and remain solution-focused, not reactive.

Design thinking helps you create solutions that are…

  1. Viable and sustainable, not just a band-aid to fix the problem for the time being
  2.  Prototyped and tested BEFORE they are implemented
  3. Most importantly, they are 100% customer-focused

Enough from me, let’s get into it.

Here are the 6 steps of the Design Thinking Framework

Keep in mind that this is not always a linear sequence – you may find yourself jumping between the steps until your solution is perfect!


Before you can define a problem you need to empathise with the people who are experiencing it. Your perspective of a problem is always going to be different to that of the customer. By taking time to truly empathise with the problem you are stepping out of your shoes and into theirs.

You may find that the reason customers are abandoning their cart at checkout is not due to lack of engagement with the product, but the fact they are unable to pay with PayPal or the checkout process is too long (what a drainer).

So how do you empathise with a problem? 

  • Ask a colleague or stranger (someone with an objective opinion) to work through the experience and give their advice
  • Take to social to examine the social conversation
  • The simplest, and most effective way? You ask! Send your customers an email to ask how you could improve the experience for them, look for patterns in the answers and act on them!


Ok, what is the problem? No, not your problem. What is the problem your customer is facing?

You’ve emphasised with your audience and during this process, it’s likely at least one if not many problems have presented themselves. Now, it may be a case of killing two birds with one stone (I need to think of a nicer metaphor) but sometimes you need to identify a priority and focus on that.

When there’s more than one problem you need to define your Minimal Viable Product (MVP) – which will become the problem you prioritise. For example, you’ve identified that your promotional emails are not converting. You may identify issues such as; layout needs improvement, you need professional photos of your products, the check out process isn’t streamlined and your subject lines need some serious work.

You can’t do it all at once (it will be months before everything goes live) so let’s focus on your MVP. There’s no point having an awesome email is it doesn’t get opened so let’s start with the subject lines!


Woohoo, we’ve got the mind-heavy analysis out of the way, now we can get creative!

Get the sticky notes or whiteboard marker out and get as many brains working on the problem as you can. There are no stupid ideas!

Ask your team to ideate a solution that is: 

  • A sustainable and innovative solution – not a band-aid
  • A solution that is easy for your customers to engage with and makes them want to come back for more
  • Something that your team can implement and maintain

Bunch together like-minded ideas and ask each team member to vote on their favourite idea(s) and say why. Continue the voting and refinement process until you’re left with three ideas.

200+ Triggers To Spice Up Your Innovation Brainstorm


Have you ever had an awesome idea that you’ve run with and after a lot of hard work you realise it’s just not going to work?

It took James Dyson 5,127 failed prototypes until he finally mastered his famous Dyson bagless vacuum. Yep, that’s 5,127 times back to the drawing board. Sounds like a lot but if he had released the 299th or the 5,099th it wouldn’t have been the product we know today and James Dyson wouldn’t have a net worth of 7.9 billion US.

There are so many great ideas that never come to life, but there are also ideas just aren’t realistic or practical. Hopefully, it won’t take you 5,127 prototypes to get it right, but if it does you’re going to have a damn good product!

Use any tools at your disposal to mock your idea. If you’re changing your packaging print it on the material you want to use. If you’re designing an app mock it up in Keynote or Slideshow. Always try to get as close to the end-product as you can. A half-arsed prototype is fruitless.


A lot of people get to this point and just pick whatever prototype looks the best. STOP RIGHT THERE! James Dyson sure as hell would’ve tested every prototype. Does it get cat hair off the couch? spilt milo out of the carpet? Can it survive sucking up a lego piece?

If you skip the testing stage you’re missing the point altogether. Anyone, whether you’re a designer, developer, marketer or copywriter needs to be testing every-time!

Here are some examples of testing: 

  • A/B testing email content and subject lines
  • Testing send/post times on email and social platforms
  • Testing copy/image variations in social ads
  • A/B variants on landing pages (try short form vs long form)
  • Do a mini release to a select group of consumers and analyse consumer feedback


Our innovation mantra is 1% ideas and 99% execution.

The last thing you want to do is waste all the hard work you’ve done up to this point. Take the time to analyse everything you’ve learned from design thinking your idea and map out a clear plan for successful implementation.

Implementation is about considering your solutions place in your customer’s journey. Here are a couple blogs to get you started mapping your customer journey and measuring customer loyalty.

Also, if you want to know the latest customer experience (CX) strategies and tips read our key takeaways from the 2018 Adobe Customer Experience Symposium. 


Some marketing strategies only work for businesses of a certain size or within a specific industry but design thinking is different. It is a mindset/way of thinking and it’s something that you should embed in your team from the get-go.

If you’re interested in running a Customised Design Thinking Workshop in your business or want to know more about our One-Day Design Thinking Workshops let us know! 

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