What content marketers can learn from design thinking

We are familiar with design thinking in the innovation process, but it is also suitable for content marketing.

What content marketers can learn from design thinking

As part of digitalization and the resulting pressure to innovate, design thinking has become an increasingly popular problem-solving method in recent years. The original idea for the creative method was developed by scientists at Stanford in the 1990s and taught at the Hasso Platttner Institute of Design starting in 2005. The computer scientists Terry Winograd, Larry Leifer and David Kelley had recognized that problems can be solved better if people from different disciplines work together in a creative environment and jointly develop concepts that take into account the needs and motivations of all involved.

It is therefore a creative process that considers many different perspectives and presents meaningful approaches to solving identified problems. This is the first overlap with content marketing, as it is exactly what this specific marketing discipline is all about. But there are even more similarities that make design thinking an interesting method for content marketing. Above all, these include the search for fresh ideas and the implementation of new trends, of which there are plenty in content marketing.


Design thinking as the foundation for content marketing

As established as content marketing has become for corporate communications, there are still far too many projects with unclear strategies and objectives as well as unsuitable content. This is usually due not only to very different views of this marketing discipline, but also to a lack of collaboration within the company. Design thinking can help avoid these typical mistakes in the implementation of content marketing. Even in the development phase of the content strategy, an interdisciplinary team should be set up that not only looks at the content from the perspective of each department, but also takes a holistic approach. This can lead to the development of several individual projects, which, when viewed together, complement each other perfectly and mesh together.


Five more benefits of combining design thinking and content marketing

Topic identification:

The question “How cab we identify relevant topics?” must not only be asked and answered at the start of a new content marketing project, but also at regular intervals thereafter. Design thinking can be a very useful method here because relevant content offers solutions to current problems within the target audience. If the topic is left solely in the hands of the dedicated content team, important perspectives are often neglected.


Customer proximity:

What can colleagues from customer service or sales with direct contact to the target group contribute? They are familiar with the problems, questions and needs of the customers, which can be outlined as topic ideas across disciplines. The question of relevance does not even arise with such topics, since they originate from the target group itself.



Solutions (topics) from different sources are communicated to the content team using this approach. A new point of view can be inspiring even if it does not directly lead to a topic. The power of brainstorming in the group is also reflected in the fact that individual thoughts can develop into entirely new ideas. If, on the other hand, the content ideas come from just one person, the desired variety is much more difficult to produce.



Multiple formats are available for content marketing, but in practice a single standard format is often used. The creation of prototypes as part of design thinking can have a positive effect on the format mix. The focus is always on the question: How can an idea be implemented best?



Another characteristic of design thinking is the ongoing development of ideas. Prototypes are created at an early stage and then gradually developed into marketable products through testing. Those who develop their content marketing according to this concept can respond to new trends and developments with the necessary speed and flexibility.

The bottom line: Batman & Robin

Those who use design thinking as a method for content marketing can reap many benefits. On the one hand, the contents gain creativity, empathy and divergence. On the other hand, an interdisciplinary project emerges, which promotes the urgently needed teamwork across the organization for other tasks as well. Thus, content marketing can mature from an isolated discipline into a holistic collaboration project. Design thinking is also established as a creative method within the company and can thus be used for other tasks. Discipline and method thus become Batman & Robin.