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Customer Journey Mapping

A High-Performance Marketing Strategy

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One of the biggest performance challenges in marketing stems from mistaking marketing for advertising. We see business owners make this mistake all the time. Unfortunately, this error gets in the way of an important shift in thinking. This shift flips the marketing conversation from promoting yourself to mapping your customer’s journey through your business.

A Couple of Definitions

Advertising is about generating awareness and brand preference. Marketing is about leading your customer’s journey through your business, driving ROI (return on investment) and customer lifetime value.

Marketing is a combination of leadership, strategy, systems development, and portfolio management. It’s more about system building than it is about campaigns and promotions.

Advertising is One Facet of Marketing

We break marketing down into a 20-step process, with advertising as Step 20. It is the very last step in the overall business development process. The challenge is people tend to start advertising before the rest of their business development system is built. It’s like installing shingles before you’ve built your house.

It’s not that you can’t advertise before everything else is in place. The problem is when you skip steps in marketing process, it’s challenging to generate a return on your investment.

Getting a Return on Your Investment

ROI is the issue. If you don’t mind wasting a tonne of money, by all means, start advertising first. The media sales reps will love you. However, if your intention is to increase your rate of earnings growth, you need to pay attention to how you’re leading people through their purchase decision process.

Consider marketing as a closed-loop system. You operate the system to reach, engage, enroll, retain, and develop clients over time at a profit.

Why Map Your Customer’s Journey?

For your marketing system to work, you need to guide people, step-by-step to target outcomes.

The first step is to break your customer’s journey into meaningful segments. These short segments are often called customer use cases. A customer’s use case boils down to how you help someone get their needs met.

When you envision your customer’s journey through your business, you are stringing together a whole series of customer use cases. These use cases begin with your first customer encounter and hopefully end many years later with a final transaction.

You maximize customer lifetime value by anticipating and facilitating customer needs along the length of their journey. You’ve likely heard people talk about customer experience design. It’s an important part of this process.

Why Map Your Customer’s Experience?

Your customer experience is basically how easy and enjoyable you make each customer use case.

The challenge with customer experience design is balancing your internal business processes with those you establish for clients. Internal and external experiences are not distinct from each other. You want them to mesh seamlessly.

It does not matter how efficient your internal processes are, if you make it difficult to buy from you, people will go elsewhere.

Let’s Break This Down

Marketing can be divided into four macro stages:

  1. Strategic Planning – Map your customer’s journey and determine how your system works
  2. System Development – Create all the parts and chain together a functioning system
  3. Advertising and Promotion – Start using your system to drive sales
  4. Performance Optimization – Continuously improve customer experience and performance

For simplicity, we call these stages Design, Build, Grow and Optimize. Each stage has several Ways of Being to be aware of and master to make your marketing work. We call these steps The 20 Ways of Being. What’s important is there are 20 steps that link together as a system to drive earnings growth.

Rather than focusing on advertising, you want to approach marketing from an industrial design point of view. Think about it as building an assembly line. Your leadership challenge is to create an effortless path for people to follow from the first meeting through to long-term client.

Marketing Leadership and Industrial Design

Your challenge as a business owner is to stop thinking about marketing as independent promotional activities. Marketing is a system with target outcomes and several feedback loops to manage.

When you approach marketing as industrial design, your focus becomes designing, building, and optimizing your system’s performance. It involves mapping your customer’s journey and designing your customer’s experience at each customer touch point. Your system needs to attract, engage, enroll, retain, and develop customer relationships, ideally over many years.

Digital Marketing and eCommerce Get All The Attention

Online business models have a huge advantage. They help you measure every customer interaction and streamline your process with ease and speed. However, there is nothing stopping traditional businesses from customer journey mapping, refining user experiences, or tracking performance along this path.

Looking at marketing as a system is more of a paradigm shift than it is about technology. The primary barrier is awareness of the approach and the fear of the unknown.

Manufacturing and Assembly Line Thinking

When you think about it, the industrial revolution was based on similar thinking. Systems and processes are not a new idea.

Consider Henry Ford’s Model T in 1912 or the work of Edward Deming in Japan after the second world war. There’s over 100 years of process management theory and practice for you to build upon. The challenge is the shift in thinking about sales and marketing as a system and applying similar principals.

The first step in Making the Shift is to stop mistaking marketing for advertising. Embrace this new paradigm and start thinking about marketing as a guided journey with relationship development and earnings growth as the goals. You want to envision how your customer relationship development assembly line works and then make it as streamlined and efficient as you can.

Where to Begin?

To get you started, we’ve prepared a series of free eBooks and a book called Mastering Marketing. Mastering Marketing breaks the big picture process down into the aforementioned 20-steps. Its purpose is to help you see the system as a whole and understand how it works. We’ve also prepared several articles to help you make this important shift in how you approach marketing.

About the Author

John Watson is the president of Accrue Performance Marketing. John is an author, sales and marketing coach and strategist who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He's consulted to start-ups, business owners and corporate executives since 1993. John's passions include entrepreneurship, digital marketing and customer data analysis, leadership and personal development, writing and photography.

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