Should I teach marketing Ethnography?

Should Marketing be trained to do Design Research?

  • Yes, that’s all our job
  • No, that’s our job

0 voters

A project team I’m involved with recently asked me to be ‘trained’ on how to do Ethnography/design research for some upcoming project research. I am torn on how to respond.

On the plus side:

  1. I would have more people and perspectives that can contribute to interpretation-sessions and user and work modeling.

  2. It’s an olive branch, and facilitates an ‘integrated’ approach and more empathy for our users.

On the negative side:

  1. It devalues what we do as User Centered Design professionals. After all, Marketing doesn’t train us on how to do pricing models or segmentation strategies! (Although perhaps they should!)

  2. We’ll end up with less useful data… Plus they’re not dedicated to the analysis and modeling.

  3. It’s one less opportunity for my staff to do the work, and grow their expertise.

  4. It teaches Marketing bad habits: they should focus on the Market, not the Users. (Historically they have done both.)

    Has anyone else faced this delimma?
    How would you respond?

Ethnography or Design Research should be completed either by an ethnographer or an industrial designer.

It would be interesting to see the similarities and differences that a marketing team would come up with versus a product development team.

To answer your question, design research should be done by your team. That doesn’t mean that marketing cannot add to the outcome. I would suggest that both teams are involved in the design research, but your team would do the majority of the work and lead that section of the project.

I think your negatives out weigh the positives for having marketing complete the research. If marketing provides more of a supporting role you may get a different perspective than if just one team completes the design research.

My two cents.

My initial thought is that you should teach them how to take part and facilitate the research as part of a multi-disciplinary team. If the “project team” doesn’t currently take part and they’re only involved with reading the results and findings then that’s a mistake. Your “teachings” should be sure to include the idea that the best information is gathered when you have people with different perspectives taking part in the info gathering and reviewing of video/audio/etc.

In short, there aren’t 2 sides of the fence…and you should all ideally work on those things together. Neither of your groups should be cut out of the process.

So far we’ve got a 50/50 split on this. That’s the same ratio I’ve gotten in conversations.

I think the right answer is a compromise: Include them as participants, but don’t let them go off on their own.

That sounds the best solution.

That’s excellent. This is not work that someone can go off and do effectively after a brief amount of training. It takes years to build up expertise. But a newbie can bring value to a process IF they are trained on how to participate in that role.

That’s how we like to work with our clients.

Easier said than done! Everyone thinks they can do this–including me!
I need some methods to better communicate the “discipline.”

One of the ways is to skirt the issue and instead focus on Responsibilities.
ie. Markeing is responsible for the Market, Design is responsible for the User.

I don’t claim it’s easily done. I’ve spent years teaching all sorts of people how to do some of this work and/or take it on themselves. I’m doing a much more in-depth version of the same process with our intern this summer. It’s a constant learning process for me on what it is that people need to experience or have explained (or both) in order to “get” it.

Our students at CCA went through a 15 week course with two rounds of fieldwork and concept and prototype refinement, and maybe a few of them were starting to basically grasp it.

So, yeah.