Roadmap for the Remaining 2009

by Eric Tsai

twitter01I started using Twitter about 2 weeks ago after relaunching designdamage.com in the blog format.  To my surprise, I received some great feedbacks and questions on my Twitter content.

I got on twitter mainly to use it as my own repository for links I enjoy reading and sharing.  The content I tend to focus on are design, marketing, branding, technology, business and entrepreneurship.  Those were the evolution of my career and after been through them I wanted to use designdamage as the platform to share my knowledge and experiences.

With that said, here are the topics I intend to cover for the remaining of the year:

DESIGN

– design principals: information architect, usabilities, ux, ix
– types of design: product, solution, service, web, etc
– design resources
– art and design

MARKETING

– brand development
– messaging and positioning
– marketing tools: seo, social marketing, channel marketing
– b2c vs b2b

BUSINESS

– startups and entrepreneurship
– management, execution, strategies
– business development, partnerships
– sales and marketing

The idea of the roadmap is to provide a path to the areas of my expertise.  I will be sharing via my experiences and provide resources for those

10 Tips on How To Transform Your Ideas into a Startup

by Eric Tsai

startupIn my opinion there is no better time than now to start a business, especially your own business.
The Perfect Storm

This once in a lifetime recession – coupled with the convergence of technology and the explosion in social media – created a perfect storm for startups.  It depends on who you are and how you think; many entrepreneurs view the recession as an opportunity while business owners feel the pain. The Chinese word for danger consists of two characters: threat and opportunity.

So how do you take advantage of the ample opportunities out there?  What does it take to realize a great idea and turn it into a business?  The answer is simpler than you might imagine.
Know Thyself
Think about the kinds of food you enjoy, the music you listen to, the sports you watch, and other the countless decisions that define you: can you explain the reasoning behind your choices?  Know thyself is defined in Wikipedia as “the ideal of understanding human behavior, morals, and thought, because ultimately to understand oneself is to understand other humans as well.”

Your decisions determine who

Love and Hate, Buying and Selling

by Eric Tsai

i_love_hate_you

Sales is a process regardless of selling necessity or not, it requires communication and understanding on both sides of the fence.  It’s especially true if you want to build up your credibility so you’re not a one hit wonder.  Many infomercials fall into the one hit wonder category.  They are what they are:  a fast, effective and unique tactic for rapid volume sale – a infomercial.  I have to admit, I enjoy watching them for the simple tactic and amusement reasons especially the “but wait there’s more”!

They are successful because they make everything look simple, easy to understand with presenters that have a strong personality.  They do everything they can to communicate and create the perception of value with entertainment. Checkout this Inc. magazine interview on Ron Popeil, who sold over $1 billion in infomercial products to see what I mean.

It’s a bit different in real life with prospects and clients.  Obviously there are limitless sales strategies, techniques and tactics out there but fundamentally you must gain their trust by solving their problem.  In many cases what’s been identified

Field Messages: Sell The Outcome

by Eric Tsai

dsgdmg-go-to-market-chart1My last blog post talked about building your marketing messages.  The purpose is to help you identify a framework for your offering so you know your position in the market and to help you create the building blocks for your brand.  Once you have those elements in place, it’s easier to develop “character” or “personality” for your brand.  Think of them as the core pillar messages.

Brand personality is the first step in creating your overall marketing message.  Nobody cares about your personality or your story if you don’t care about them.  So in order to get a chance to pitch your marketing messages you must understand your customers.

Marketing messages are about you, your company and your story. The opposite of that is called field messages. A field message is used when persuading customers to buy while marketing messages is to generate value proposition; and together they form your brand’s initiate market perception and impression.

Branding is how your customers engage with your brand and is only meaningful when you’re able to streamline your marketing messages to your field messages connecting

5 Steps to Start Building your Marketing Messages

by Eric Tsai

Proper marketing messages are the foundations of your brand’s success.  Whether you are selling a product, a service, or yourself, you must communicate the value of your brand precisely and to the point.

Here are 5 steps to start building your marketing messages:
1. Define Your Target Audiences And What You Offer Them

What exactly do you do?  What is being offered?  Who is the customer?  What problem are you solving?  Why should they care? This should tie to your mission statement, which should be tailored to your audience.  Your offer is positioned based on the target audience you are pursuing.

One way to start is to narrow down the demographics and prioritize your targets into different buckets.  For example: if you sell cookware you can identify the primary targets as at-home mothers, restaurant chiefs, or people that just like to cook.  However, you need to be able to describe them with details like:  “stay at home mothers age 25-45 that cooks 4 days or more a week for at least 3 people with household income of $100K that lives in major metropolitan

How Opinions Disrupt and Transform

by Eric Tsai

I read an excellent report on the opinion of the public around the world by Ipsos Public Affairs.  The report covers a wide range of “disruptions” with references, datas, and statistics that had an impact on the public’s perception from around the world.

Click here to download the complete report in PDF.

Public opinions and perceptions dictates how consumers behave, and how businesses decide. Why is this important?  Because we are in the middle of a dramatic transformation of psychology, there will be a major shuffle on how we prioritize and what value means to us. Consumer behavior is shifting and marketers must adjust their strategies and tactics to fit the psychology for when we recover from this recession.

The discipline of consumer psychology draws heavily from marketing, advertising, economics, culture, and social trends.  Marketers must remain focus on public opinions and consumer behavior to have an edge in the future.

Here is a great example of what I mean, watch this video interview with Harvard Business Professor John A. Quelch on his article, “How to Market in a Downturn.”

Design Strategies: Beyond Aesthetics and Function

by Eric Tsai

I read a lot of business related blogs and one of my favor blog is Guy Kawasaki’s How to Change the World. Typically he blogs about business, startups, entrepreneurship, etc however; last week he had an interview with Hartmut Esslinger, the founder of frog design, a design firm I highly respect and keep my tabs on.

I couldn’t agree more with what Hartmut’s view on design:

“Design” isn’t a clear-cut talent profession, but one of coordination and catalyst between human needs, science and technology, business and economy, as well as sociology and ecology. The artistic talent required is more of an enabler at the end of rational and emotional analysis as well as strategic conceptualization. Therefore, it is vital to learn and study as much as possible especially about business, technology and human nature. In the end, there are flavors in design which are more aesthetic—see New York Times “Style Magazine”—but design is only relevant when it improves human lives by appealing both to the mind and the heart.

 
Context of Design
The important aspect of design isn’t really about the visual enablement,

Keep It Real, Perceived Value Matters

by Eric Tsai

dsgdmg-chart02As economy continues to deteriorate, brands across the board continues to suffer from retail to wholesale. Confirmed by today’s weaker than expected retail sales data “purchases fell 1.1 percent, with declines from car dealers to electronics stores and restaurants,” according to Bloomberg. Nobody is immune in this economy, not even Google or Apple.

Whether you own your own business or run the marketing department, it’s time to do a reality check.  Consumers and businesses alike are pulling back, looking hard and close at their spending habits while corporations reevaluate costs and business relationships. What was offered previously may no longer be perceived with the same value, perceptions change not to mention value itself is highly subjective.

During times like this, perceived value evolves rapidly, the demand for ‘needs’ are greater than ‘wants.’

You must deliver beyond being essential and unique, you need to provide optimal value of doing business with your brand.  You must have an edge and knowing your perceived value to your customers will be more relevant now than ever.

You have to know what your customers think of you rather

Good Design: Part 3 – Marketing & Positioning

by Eric Tsai

marketingThe last element of good design is to maximize the design by selling it – distribute it in the market, execute on marketing.

Picture this: you have a product idea and spent a great deal of time laying down the solid design framework for this innovative product,  you think it’ll be a huge hit.  And finally you developed a production sample and it’s even better than you had imagined!  How would you translate that into success? Can you build a path to optimize the user experience?  Do you have the roadmap to revenue?

 
Integrate Ideas into Strategies
Great marketing doesn’t make the product great, but a great product usually have marketing built into it already.  It’s not about feature or benefits. This is a highly overlooked area for many creators and designers today, not having a playbook of strategies from start to finish.  The best way to start developing your game plan is to imagine your ideal situation, your desired outcome then work backwards into the design.

For example, you came up with a new type of shoes that can help runners run