Do you remember searching for your very first job, in the industry you actually wanted to work in? I remember the pressure. I am pretty sure I got the job through pure luck as I don’t recall having a portfolio or anything besides a will to work and learn.

Kelvin Mui, our client and owner of Karasu Design, remembers his job search pretty well. That memory helped him choose his next career move. 

When Covid happened, two of Kelvin's friends lost their jobs in the creative industry. They turned to him for help, since both the process of hiring and being hired had no secrets from him. Kelvin's tips and training proved valuable - for both the job searching friend and the freelancer looking for more gigs. 

This became the base of the next career move for Kelvin. He decided to put all his knowledge into a training that would help young designers land jobs. First, he reached out to online groups to do research. Then he created the course materials and website. He offered free training to the first 5 people. The problem was, nobody signed up. 

Oh, snap!
This is where we enter the scene. Kelvin reached out to Vera, an experienced design lead with lots of connections in the industry. At the time, she was working with 3 designers and proposed to create a team that can delve deeper into Kelvin's problem. 

We started, as you do, with a chat over some tea. Vera introduced the team, Dani, Santosh and myself, to the problem. We had lots of questions, thoughts and assumptions - it was time to research and document. Those initial notes gave us a list of questions for the first meeting with Kelvin. It was quite a long list so we divided the topics between ourselves. ​​​​​​​
List of divided questions

That way each member of the team had a chance to chat with the client and form her opinions. Santosh focused on the business side of things, Dani looked into the course structure and content, while I dived into marketing aspects. That division of work seemed natural since it aligned with some of our previous experience. However, at the same time all three of us were focused on Kelvins customers. We wanted to understand how he viewed people, who would choose his course. During the interview, that approach helped us quite a lot. We could switch seamlessly between topics and approach them from multiple angles, as each team member was remembering our priority - Kelvins clients. 

Kelvin turned out to be a great conversationalist and provided all the information we were looking for. Interview provided a much better understanding of Kelvin's situation. During the 1h meeting we gathered lots of information, and were surprised more than once. After Kelvin left the zoom call, we decided to stay and work -  using affinity mapping to sort through all that new data, hoping that a clearer image would emerge.

Additionally, our team needed to figure out how we wanted to work on this project and what we could deliver. After a short discussion, we decided to follow Veras advice to use design sprint methodology. It provided fast answers, which was what Kelvin was after. A quick way to narrow down focus, prototype and analyse the results. We could also figure out what to watch out for and the long term goals. Now we could really get started!​​​​​​​
Game plan

Design Sprint
On Friday Kelvin (the client) became the Decider while Vera (the team lead) - the Facilitator. Next we noted the questions we wanted to answer during the sprint and used previously gathered data to map out the process Kelvins customers go through, from early research to the decision of buying the course. What followed were How Might We questions, later converted to statements. That allowed us to shift our perspective from the problem to the ideas. Affinity mapping proved useful again when we sorted the statements and noticed some thematic groups emerging. ​​​​​​​
How Might We make sense of all this information?

On Monday Kelvin and the team voted on the statements. At this point we needed to dive deep into one area and find the opportunity for the biggest change to our customer. Our chosen topics were prioritised based on the number of votes they got and made it back to the process map so we could see where they were placed. Interestingly, 3 out of 5 of our statements were connected to a very first stage in the process. We took it as a clear indication that we should focus there. The Decider confirmed that choice. The first stage, where students are about to begin their journey into courses, seemed critical. We needed to understand where our potential students were and how we could reach out to them. ​​​​​​​
Process map
Focus area

On Tuesday we dived into working alone on research and I looked for inspiration in different industries, interested in solutions to similar problems. Our early assumptions as to the nature of the problem might have been wrong. We might be looking for less tangible solutions. Problem seemed to be, interestingly, outside of the digital product and more connected to advertising. That meant we needed to change our game plan - for instance there might not be a digital prototype to test. 

Our team wanted to understand how prospective students made the decision of joining (or not) a particular course. Clearly, we needed to learn a bit about advertising. I had some previous experience with marketing campaigns so the task at hand didn’t seem too daunting. Each member of our team worked on finding ideas and solutions that could be helpful. 

I found a couple interesting prompts on polish websites and zoomed in on Facebook and LinkedIn, the two platforms where both customer groups (recent graduates and people in-between jobs) could be found. I wrote down my ideas to take them out of my head and started looking for commonalities - sorting through the propositions, doing affinity mapping and Crazy 8’s. For a moment I was stuck on how to apply that tool to the type of information I had, but with a bit of help from our amazing Facilitator, I got back on the track. 

After that I was able to pick one idea that seemed to make the biggest difference - “pimp-my-linkedin”. An online, short and free event where Kelvin provides valuable insights on potencial students' LinkedIn profile. With a bit of preparation beforehand (posts and ads widening the reach) it could be easy to carry out and gain an audience from groups interested in the matter. Kelvin would be sharing his know-how, showing parts of the course - proving it’s value and showing Kelvin's expertise. ​​​​​​​
Looking for solutions in sketching, crazy8s and notes

On Wednesday we went back to work as a group and assessed our ideas to figure out the next step. We realised all of them were going in the same direction. Could we make them enhance each other? Could we tie the solutions together so we can reach even a wider group of potential clients? How can we validate if it would help Kelvin in achieving his goal?

As for my solution, Vera noticed that Kelvin hadn't mentioned using LinkedIn - so I checked my notes again. She was of course right, therefore I needed to prepare for a) creation of a profile, if he didn’t have one and b) reworking my “pimp-my-linkedin'' into “pimp-my-portfolio” or “pimp-my-mindset” presentation. I have thought about that latter so I prioritised writing the message in a way to make it easy to exchange the main event if that's necessary.

On Thursday I developed the ideas further, into prototypes that Kelvin can test straight away. The challenge for me was to write a copy that didn't sound overly salesy, touched on the pain points we uncovered and could go under the radar of overly protective group admins. I needed to strike a balance between appealing and engaging, valuable and marketable. 

To solve that riddle, I focused on preparing good foundations and tying the message to what we knew about our customers. I approached it like an MVP, with the assumption that if time permits, I will be able to polish the message further. I made 3 iterations with lots of side comments and notes but in the end it was a message that would engage new customers. I couldn’t wait to validate that assumption.​​​​​​​
“Pimp-my-LinkedIn” event outline and schedule

On Friday we presented our solutions to Kelvin. Afterwards he had many questions but it seems that our ideas opened avenues of interest he hasn’t considered. There was a bit of resistance to the idea of free content but we convinced Kelvin that it was a good way to achieve his goal of attracting students. Our solutions were designed to reach new customers and engage them in a conversation that will lead them to join Kelvin's course. Additionally, they would make him more noticeable to prospective students. Kelvin was keen to start testing our solutions and share the results with us. 

After the presentation we changed our prototypes into an easy to use slide deck. Now we needed to wait for the results of the testing. We are eager to know what would be the response to Kelvins posts. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
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