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!
In my Design and the Market module, we’ve recently begun workshops that help us work through NESTA’s creative enterprise toolkit, in order to get us thinking in a creative, entrepreneurial, business-minded, you-can-do-it kind of way. It’s kind of daunting, and I imagine especially so if you don’t even want to start a business, but I appreciate why we’re working through the programme; it’s a business module (obviously) and the aim is to give us a good understanding of business, and how the creative industries work. These are all going to be useful skills, no matter what we end up working as in the future. The toolkit consists of four little booklets which provide you with information on how to shape your creative idea into a viable business, and worksheets to help explore and visualise the key issues behind your idea.
I unfortunately missed the first workshop, which I was actually really looking forward to (I’ve mentioned before how I really want to work on personal branding and developing who I am as a designer and, I suppose, businessperson). The first workshop had the class working on identifying their values. I’ve since completed the worksheet after speaking with a couple of classmates and other people who’ve worked through the toolkit. The worksheet asks you to identify values and place them according to how important they are – always important, sometimes important, rarely important, and never important. In my always important column I had things like fun, passion, communication, Scottish/UK-based, and artisanal/skilled work.
The second exercise was evidence modelling, which is where you succinctly describe your business idea (“Beautiful limited-run handmade printed textile interiors accessories & prints, based in Scotland, and printed fabrics available to buy by-the-metre.”) and describe what impacts your business will have on the world, good and bad. My business will enhance peoples’ home comforts, and revitalise dreary interiors with unique and intriguing pieces to delight and create bonds and memories. It will replace mass-produced interiors accessories; revive the public’s interest in traditional and artisanal skills, and owning items with a back-story; the backlash of my business becoming super-successful is that the market for mass-produced generic interiors accessories will dry up and lots of shops will sadly have to close down, and I will become so successful that I’ll have to employ huge manufacturing factories to keep up with demand, and will eventually lose the quirky, handmade feel of my work.
We were also asked to do fake evidence success, where you imagine a story of success and write or draw it out. This exercise was quite fun – I wrote a short Very Influential Design Blog post about how fantastic my work is, and why everyone should buy the things I make.
Yesterday we worked on a few more worksheets, defining our customers, blueprint modelling, and relationship modelling. I’ll write about this soon – it was a lot to think about!