Today’s organizations face a balancing act when it comes to executing successful digital marketing and design initiatives. With an increasing amount of content to concept, produce and disseminate—at lightning speed, and across multiple channels—it can feel nearly impossible to also meet rising standards for product and experience design. The pressure coming at companies from both sides can cause detrimental strains on their time and resources—too often, positioning quality and quantity as siloed and even competing objectives.
Senior Marketing Analyst, Designer and Filterati Karley Millender has spent her career helping leading brands like Dell and Polycom tackle this type of challenge. With years of experience in both design and marketing, she’s deeply knowledgeable about how both fields are evolving, and about the challenging (and exciting) territory where they overlap.
In this interview, Karley gives us a look at the biggest hurdles today’s companies are facing in their quest to engage their customers with a nonstop flow of exceptional content—and the most effective ways to overcome them. And, drawing from her experience on a wide variety of teams and projects, she explains why communication is the key to bringing exceptional design and effective marketing together into a single, focused strategy.
Q: Why are companies struggling to simultaneously execute great design and effective marketing?
Companies today face many challenges when it comes to executing digital marketing and design. In my opinion, one of the biggest issues is simply time; the requests continue to pour in, and a fast turnaround is always needed. This is definitely a challenge, but it can also be a good thing: when we’re under pressure, we develop some of our most creative ideas.
In the marketing space specifically, the main issue I’ve noticed is the struggle to generate traffic or drive traffic to the content. With so many different platforms, marketing teams sometimes have trouble figuring out where to focus their efforts and resources. Ultimately, solving all these problems comes down to knowing your audience and keeping pace with current trends in the industry.
Q: What are some of the tactics organizations can use to solve these problems?
The best way to stay on top of these challenges is to concentrate on staying fresh and relevant, in terms of both your content and your marketing strategy. Software, tools and user trends are changing daily, which is both exciting and extremely challenging. The most successful teams will be those who have the dedication and flexibility to continue adapting to these changes.
Always keep your content up to date; and to make sure it reaches your customers, use a number of different platforms and channels—whether it’s social media, video, email or others. It’s also important to stay active and involved within the industry. Engaging with others at conferences and events around the world is an excellent way to learn and exchange new ideas.
Q: What challenges and opportunities are you seeing surrounding collaboration within and between these teams?
Overall, I think that when you bring together a group of people with different skills and mindsets, the team can create amazing things. Problem solving becomes a group effort, fresh ideas are discovered, and processes tend to be much smoother.
When individuals with different backgrounds work together, it can be a great experience—but it can also present some challenges. Everyone has an opinion, and they may not agree on certain things. Not everyone speaks the same "lingo," which can also cause some issues. Things can get even more complicated when teams are dispersed across multiple locations. Dell EMC, for instance, has campuses all over the world, so on a daily basis we interact with others who speak a different language. That geographical distance and communication gap can potentially cause slowdowns or other issues in a project.
If communication suffers, even the most talented people won’t get anywhere as a team. In my experience, the biggest keys here are checking in with one another frequently—I’ve found daily standups very effective, especially when there are remote team members—and keeping an open-minded attitude. We all need to be patient and willing to learn from one another.
Q: How does your dual background in design and marketing shape your approach?
A lot of what I learned in the design world has helped inform my work as a Marketing Analyst, and vice versa. First and foremost, both fields rely on communication—both with your customers and your colleagues. Building a strong connection with your audience is key: understanding who you’re trying to reach, and what messages—both written and visual—will resonate most with them.
Again, communication central to succeeding in design, marketing and virtually any other type of work. In addition to communicating with the end user, good communication with other designers, marketers, stakeholders and anyone else involved in the project is key to meeting your deadlines and achieving your goals. Last but not least, my experiences with design and marketing have proven how critical it is to stay innovative and original. Both fields require you to keep up with emerging trends and technologies, and to think fresh, while keeping your audience’s needs front and center.