Last week us Design and the Marketers worked on more NESTA worksheets. We worked on defining our ideal customers, our target market. This is a really difficult job, because it can be tough to visualise another person’s life, and to do this exercise you have to really delve into what makes your customer who they are: what they like, what annoys them, what they read, what hobbies they have, how much money they have, what they feel is important in life, who their friends are. As a designer empathy is incredibly important, you have to understand people and how they work. I kind of filled my worksheet out while thinking of an idealised version of me, or who I want to be when I grow up, which probably made things a little easier for me than if I were aiming toward an ideal customer of middle-aged me or something. I think this is a really useful exercise, and one it would be worth redoing properly once I have a better idea of what I want to do with my life – it gives a good base idea of where to aim your work (what magazines or blogs do these people read, how do they shop?) and helps to develop your sense of empathy.
We completed a worksheet on blueprint modelling, which helps you to visualise how your business will function and describe how business will be done. You list all the things you have to do to make your business work and split them into three stages: engagement, development, and delivery. Each of these stages has things going on “backstage” (things like research and development), and “onstage” (things like networking and showing off prototypes). This process of putting actions under the appropriate headings helps you to map out all the steps you need to take to deliver your product or service in a linear way. I think this exercise would have been easier for me if I’d had a more solid business idea to work with.
We also looked at relationship modelling – mapping out all the people involved in your business, and the relationships between them and yourself. For example, I will be the designer or the “generator” of the ideas, a textile digital printing company might be the “realiser” of my ideas – they take my designs and make them into fabric for me to work with (sewing machine suppliers and maintenance companies, and haberdasheries would also count as realisers), online and brick-and-mortar shops and boutiques are “distributors”, the people who deliver, sell, and market the product, and finally (of course) you have your customers. I found that this exercise really opened my eyes to just how many people are involved in a business. “I’ll start selling textile accessories that I make” all of a sudden turns into “I’ll have to develop relationships with x number of companies”, which I had never even considered before!