08 March 2023 |

A human-centered design approach to content marketing

By Tracey Wallace

Prior to accepting my role at Klaviyo, I was interviewing with several other companies (as you do!). PartyRound and Reforge were two of them––and both were looking for someone to come in and build a content program from scratch. 

For both companies, I proposed following a human-centered design approach. Each plan included the following elements:

  • Prompt
  • Approach
    • Talk to [target audience]
    • Research
    • Competitive audit & documentation 
    • Building the plan
    • The launch
    • The future 
  • Assumptions

It is under the approach section that human-centered design plays out. Human-centered design requires that before you begin to solve a problem or build a product, you need to interview folks who are experiencing that product––and you need to go deep with them. The interviews should be at least an hour long, and you need to build rapport because you’re going to ask a series of more and more invasive questions. 

As I mentioned in the intro, I had a friend do this interview on me for a product about women’s health. The questions got insanely intrusive, but she did a fantastic job at building trust up front––which the human-centered design philosophy and model helps to teach folks to do. 

The “talk to [target audience]” section is your human-centered design approach, and you need to spend the first 30 days or more talking to as many people in this market as possible. 

I know my newsletter last week suggested that you start with case studies. That is a good first step, too, because you can begin to produce content for the team. But, if your organization lets you follow this approach instead, please do it. Because customers aren’t your only target audience—and content marketing sits just as much at the top of the funnel as it will at the bottom. You’ll be expected, soon, to produce content that can have a strong POV in your industry—and the best way to do that is to get to know your industry inside and outside, and build a content platform specifically for them. 

All right, I’m going to drop the two assignments here for everyone to read through. PartyRound offered me the job. Reforge’s CEO ended up hiring someone he knew and had worked with before at Hubspot. And he hired them before I even turned the assignment in. He and I still had a follow up call because he “was impressed with the thoroughness and thoughtfulness of creating content in this way, and would love to talk, even though the role has closed.”

Let me tell ya, too. I get it. It’s so much easier hiring folks you know and trust can get the job done. It helps you sleep at night. So, no harm no foul there! 

A word of warning: These documents are long. 

Per usual, use these documents as they are helpful, and disregard what you don’t like.