Designers nowadays also share in the task of selling a product or service. Designers used to very much be behind the scenes, but are finally sharing the limelight. Cathy shares her secrets on what she studied and how she learned to infuse strategy and sales principles into design.
Hey everyone, this is Cathy Olson and welcome to the Secrets of Gorgeous Design Podcast. I am super thrilled to share this topic with you today. Um, and this is really kind of a, gosh, it’s like a teaching session, but it’s also like why do we need to learn this type session because it’s something that I talk about a lot on this podcast but I don’t really explain, haven’t really explained yet why it’s important for you to learn this. I kind of want to break down what you need to learn in order to shift into like high level, high thinking design, but also why the why behind it. Like why is, why have I picked this approach and why does this approach matter? Let’s jump into this episode.
My name is Cathy Olson. I’m part of a group of entrepreneurs who are the founders and creative directors of their businesses who have a discerning eye and a ton of heart.
If you ask those get rich quick types, they would say that pretty design isn’t functional and doesn’t sell. Yet. We are proving everyday that beautiful and thoughtful details do cells and in fact attract unstoppable beauty and wealth. We believe that we can have it all and that sales can be gorgeous. These are the secrets of gorgeous design and we are here to make creativity, lucrative, build gorgeous brands and sales funnels and to make the world of business a gorgeous place to be. I get that the world that I’m in now is so different than what, you know, like I was kind of raised in the design world that I was raised in. I have like a super odd upbringing. I feel like with design because I, I was exposed to it at a really young age. I had graphic designers in my family and um, when I grew up there, they’re basically, gosh, like nobody knew what graphic standards where it wasn’t kind of one of those normal jobs.
I’m in mostly probably because designers, we’re very much behind the scenes. They worked in agencies and no one ever heard of them. Right? I mean, of course we know that that madmen era where the ad ad agencies were king and it was like, you know, they were obviously people knew what marketing and ad people were I think, but just graphic designers or just kind of these like silent people behind the scenes that will do the design stuff and back then way back in the and you know, black and white days. I like to say no, just kidding. Um, but way back then I think that people had, you know, I guess because they didn’t have much of a voice because designers didn’t have much of a voice. Um, what they did was kind of a mystery. I, I distinctly remember telling people when I was younger that I wanted to be a designer, a graphic designer and people I had to seriously explain what that even was, where it, it sounds so ridiculous now because I feel like everybody, it’s just become so much more mainstream people and more people do it.
Like, Gosh, I mean I wouldn’t say a huge majority of the people that I know of, designers that I know just like colleagues, but also like in, in my, my chorus inspired pro are just self taught designer, so like people don’t even necessarily have to go to school for it anymore. People still do obviously, but a lot of times people don’t. So it was a 100 percent. You used to go to school for it, like there didn’t use to be any designers. I don’t think everybody I knew of one to school for it. But again it was few and far between, there was a very, it wasn’t a very saturated market so I don’t know historically kind of what changed that and why things did, but they did and it became something that people finally, I guess designers came out of the shadows and started being just more visible.
And so when that happened, you know, and people started freelancing and kind of pulling out from behind the, that huge shadow of a agency, right. That kind of agency life deal. They started to kind of put more hats, I guess wear more hats and I think that’s, this is also what happened with me. I think that when I, when I worked at a design studio, I was always encouraged to be very strategic and think about my purpose behind all my designs, but it wasn’t my job to go any further than that. It was basically my job to take what the client had told me and to translate it to design. And I still think that so, so many designers are doing right now and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not saying that like, Oh, if you’re doing it the way you’re doing it wrong, but I think that being a strategic designer is going to just bring in a whole other level of our craft and it just helps you become more well rounded.
And, and I’m not, I don’t even suggest that you become too far into the strategy game to where you’re wearing too many hats either because I don’t think you should be really awesome at it. I don’t think it’s easy to be awesome at everything, right? I’m not saying like, oh, it’d be a one man show and get everything done, you know, be the FB ad strategist and the logo designer and the, you know, I don’t want, I’m not saying that I think that you should be all the things, but I do think that there is a positive, a positive push or gain to be had when any designer learns sales principles and strategy principles. Even if it’s something that you don’t like, you try it and you hate it, that’s all. It’s all good, right? You don’t, you don’t have to be just like me and want to do this strategy, shadier stuff, but it’s cool to learn it and at least expose yourself to it.
And then that way you can make that decision. To see if you like it or not. And I feel almost the same way with coding, you know, a lot of people asked me do I need to be a coder to be a designer? And I’m like, oh my gosh, of course not. Like, this is the, they’re totally two different things, but if you’re anything like, if you’re like, if you’re weird like me, then you might enjoy it. And so I’ve always been, ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been a big test or you know, I would try stuff, see if I liked it, if I did like it, I would kind of try to fold it into the bigger picture. If I didn’t like it, I would never have to do it again. Right? So this, but this is really where I get into, this is where I stand out among the competition among leaders, right?
I’m always harping on this. It’s got to be strategic and gorgeous. If you aren’t doing the strategy stuff and you are just a designer, that’s totally okay. But if you really want to make a name for yourself and make your business amazing, then your, the, the product that you have has to be strategic and gorgeous. Whether you’re doing the strategy or not, the end result has to have this involved. Today I want to cover how to learn how to like basically how to make strategic design. They talk about, oh, it’s really important to be strategy strategic, you know, make sure you’re strategic, make sure you, you use sales principles. But I never, I haven’t really talked yet on this podcast about, okay, well Cath, how do you do that? How do you make strategic design? This is why I want to break down to you what I did in order to shift my design and actually put it into a place where it is strategic.
There’s three things I’m going to talk about today about how you can actually start doing this and how you can start learning this. And so the first thing that I want to teach you today on what to do to tattle on strategic design is to study sales principles. If you haven’t had, if you’re a totally from the design world or for totally from coming from an artistic standpoint, you probably haven’t looked much into sales principles and you don’t really understand how sales and marketing works. And so I think it’s really important, again, if you, if you’re going to offer this to your clients or not, I still think it’s important for you to learn. I think it’s one of those, it’s almost like if this was a college, a university, I would have sales principles as one of my prerequisites and have all my students learn, right?
Because it’s, gosh, it’s so important. It’s just so, so, so, so important to what you’re doing. Even though you’re creating something beautiful based on their identity, their identity is just so inextricably tied to the client that they’re selling to. Like I just don’t see how you can separate it. Now that I see it together, I don’t see how it can be separated ever again. What you want to do is, you know, it depends on what kind of learner you are, right? If you’re a visual learner, you know, study, you can study sales principles like via, like youtube or you can take courses on sales, how to close sales, right? Sales psychology, you know, pricing psychology, how to create an offer. One of my favorite absolute favorite people, sales funnel wise is Russell Brunson, from Clickfunnels and even though he is a software person he co-founded Clickfunnels.
He, his whole way, reason of life is to teach people sales and how to sell and offer. He teaches it in a really approachable way to I think is why I really love it. I just think that he kind of breaks it down into more of a form formulaic approach. I think that’s another reason why I was turned off as sales for so long is because, it felt like it needed to be. You just need to be talented or not. Like I, I’ve never been much of a, I don’t love confrontation with my personality type. And so I got fired from lots of jobs where I had to sell, sell to people, which is kind of funny now because I do so much sales now a days. And they, it, it works and I do sell really well now. But I didn’t use too, so I am living proof that sales does not have to be ingrained in you.
And I see the other side of it. My husband is a natural born salesman, like amazing. Shout out to Erik. He’s just so incredibly amazing what a great natural talent. But I never was that person. It’s funny that the things that he does, just instinctively just innately, he just does them already, are the things that you learn when you learn, when you study sales principles. If you’re a reader, you know, there’s lots and lots of books about closing deals, about, you know, setting up sales conversations, how to, how to close sales conversations, how to read people, you know, all that kinda stuff. There’s also on Audible, there’s tons of things in audible that you can check out. I would say if you are going in the sales funnel route to definitely check out Russell Brunson stuff, you know, the, his Dot Com Secrets and Expert Secrets are great places to start.
I don’t really want to say that’s where I started, but that’s it. It made a huge change and impact on me and it’s where I learned a lot about sales, but I can’t really pinpoint it to like specific books because I really just sort of immersed myself in it and I read lots and lots and lots of books and I’m still reading lots and lots and lots of books about sales and marketing so you can kind of pick which ones you want to go with. But again, just really learning the principles about how do you start a conversation with someone and that ends up in a sale. I mean that’s really like the point of, of what I kind of want you to do. And then the second thing is that you can do is to study and test usability. If, whether you are designing, you know, a brand or you’re designing packaging or you’re designing social media graphics or you’re designing a whole website, you really need to see how people use the content and how they kinda digest the content.
I’m actually testing things out. If you’re using, you know, different social media graphics. I mean, a lot of us are doing design for, for things that are going online, you want to test out if you’re doing like, you know, the old school graphics where people were seeing them like via print or magazines or stuff like that. You can still do this kind of testing through like kind of focus work, focus group work where you’re showing it to people and seeing their reaction and stuff. And which one do they prefer, which colors do they prefer? But really, you can do this in real life and actually test, obviously it’s pretty easy to do online. You can do split testing type of things. There’s also tools that you know, you can use for websites. There’s a tool called hot jar, h o, t j a r or sumo also does it appsumo you can kind of see what people are doing on your site where they’re clicking, how far they got down the page.
Where did they go from next? There’s actually saw some software that records people’s clicks to see where they’re going. Um, there’s other softwares that are like called a and b testing software. Even just like with an email email marketing, like if you’re doing some email marketing, you can see which headline did the best, um, between the two. Just just be become a student of learning about usability and preferences really. And just seeing what works because there’s just nothing you, you just, you will totally go in a place where you’re like, okay, this is totally gonna outperform the other one and then you’ll be surprised. I’m just be constantly learning about that. There also are um, lots of books and there’s some trainings and stuff online about how people use things. I will link in the show notes, I’ll link some actual links of some things that, that I’ve, that I’ve loved and books and stuff, but there’s lots, there’s a ton, there’s tons of tons and tons of places.
But again, I would, I would also suggest doing it in real in real time and checking out and seeing what people are using for your brand or for the or if you’re working for another brand who, to see who’s clicking what, where they’re clicking and all that kind of stuff. To just always be a student of that and, and testing how p, how people perceive things, how people use things. Did they understand it? Did they not understand it? Did it, did make it a button? Look this way? Did it, did it make, make it look confusing? Did they understand where to go next? Did they even see the button? Right. I’ve been over the past few years I’ve been really studying this and so I would suggest you do that as well because you learn a lot. The third thing is that you want to pay attention and map out user paths.
I know that sounds like really calm. Like what, what did she say? Winded? What did she say? I said pay attention and map out user paths. And what I mean by that is pay attention to how it’s kind of taking that last thing and taking it a step further about how, what some people call it, the customer journey. Mapping out the customer journey. Thinking about, okay, if someone’s coming to and you can see how anyone’s using something, right? But if a website is the easiest thing to explain and kind of understand, but when they’re coming to a website, maybe they’re not coming in the homepage, right? Coming to the homepage, maybe they’re finding you or your client through Pinterest. They came through a blog post and so it’s really important to map out and pay attention to each of those user paths.
Okay, they came in from here. Would they see all the things that we need them to see from this page? If they came to, you know, through a blog post, would they know what I did for a living? Right? Would they even know my actual offer or if they came through the homepage, would they. And they were totally like cold traffic, meaning they never had met me before. They never had any contact with my brand before. Would they understand what I was all about? Um, would they get overwhelmed where they know where to go? And then you can also kinda even take it a step further and say, okay, if I was in and have like a couple customer avatar types. It’s like you have, you know, you help like a, B and c of types of customers, you know, and they, and they’re looking for different things.
Customer A comes, can he see he or she see exactly where to go from here. Does she have a clear path to get to her, a side and kind of go all those places and then, you know, the b customer, do they know where to go to h, how, how quickly can they get helped and then the customer, how quickly can they get helped and do they understand it? Can they get to their, their area of the site. You really want to map out those user paths and be thinking about exactly where they’re going to go from here and we’ll all the steps are going to take. And so when you’re thinking about these kind of multi, multi entry points points, I guess like just have multiple entry points to be dealing with your brand or, or seeing your brand or seeing the site or using it or purchasing or whatever they’re doing.
You’re able to really strategize all of these. When you’re thinking about these three things, it makes it really easy to be strategic, right? Because you have it all mapped out. Now you know, you know the sales principles, you know exactly how you need to portray the story, you know what you need to talk about in order to convert someone from a browser to a buyer, right? You know what kind of words you need, you need, you know, what kind of story that you needed to tell. You know what kind of benefits and features you need to explain, right? You’re looking in the back end of what an offer is making the offer. You know how to make that right? But then you’re also. You’ve also studied how people use the thing that you’re using. Whether that’s a magazine or a pdf or social media graphic or a website, you understand what makes it easy to use, right?
Functionality wise. Okay, this is what makes a button really easy to find and this is how people are indicated that this is where the search engine, this is where the search bar is a okay, it’s really easy to check out because I have it laid out this way, right? Once you start setting that, then you’ll know exactly what the best ways to go are, the best ways to design it are. And then again, if you are paying attention and mapping out those user paths, now you know how to get somebody from a site into a site, sell them, get them squared away, they want to go and get them out so that they feel satisfied. They don’t leave, they tell their friends, they have a great experience. Overall you’re just studying all these little pieces behind the scene to really, really make your design stand out.
And Oh my gosh, like make your client like so impressed with you because you have thought through everything. And that’s what I think that, our clients really get wowed by is like, oh my gosh, I wouldn’t even have thought of that, you know, but they don’t even expect a designer to know this stuff. But then when I do know it, it’s like, oh my gosh, she’s amazing. Those are the three ways that you can start learning to be more strategic today. And it’s not a quick, easy fix or whatever is not something you’re going to learn overnight, but you just soak this information over time and you just become a better and better and better designer. Thanks guys. I hope that was helpful. I appreciate you so much. If you love this episode, would you hop over and give me a review now that it’s live? I would appreciate that so much and I will see you guys soon.
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