Building and Using Journey Maps

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” 

― Lewis Carroll,  Alice in Wonderland 

Who needs a map?

Where exactly is journey mapping taking you and your brand? Closer to your customer? Or down the proverbial rabbit hole? 

Does the journey map strike off in new directions or merely trod a well-worn path that lacks much in the way of depth or nuance? 

Do your journey maps remain lodged in some presentation deck or gathering dust on the shelf or do they get translated into marketing action and optimized for even better results? 

Use it or lose it!

The answer to these questions depends not only on the data and methodologies you use to build those customer journey maps, but they also relate closely to the expectations that you bring to journey mapping and the marketing framework that you will ultimately use to attract and retain your target clients. 

In other words, journey maps must not only be constructed from the bottom-up with a close and detailed tracking of the customer’s path to purchase, but they should also be analyzed from the top-down, with the full awareness and anticipation that the marketer must cultivate throughout to engage the consumer with a broad range of marketing activities. 

The savvy marketer will undertake journey mapping with multiple objectives: 

  1. Extract deep and actionable insight into customer needs and desired solutions 
  1. Accelerate the journey to conversion and commitment, which often means purchase or a service engagement 
  1. Improve and optimize the experience for prospective and current customers that are distributed throughout various stages of the journey  
  1. To drive learning and responsiveness internally — throughout the firm — as systems, practices and the company-wide culture continuous adapt and transform in a market-centric way. We find that clients often use their maps to onboard new marketers who frequently change roles and assignments. 

Journey maps can transform your marketing.

At Brado, we have labeled this marketing paradigm Transformational Marketing (cf. Figure below) and conceptualize it as a virtuous cycle in which the bottom-up process we connect with “sense” and “feel” promotes the deep insight that must then align with purposeful and effective marketing to provide both a confident “launch” with the continuous refinement and optimization that we associate with “learn.” 

In constructing a journey map from the bottom-up, we rely upon a multi-dimensional view of the customer and using techniques that give us the best opportunities to sense and feel the competing motivations for behavior, the frictions and roadblocks that impede progress along the path to purchase, as well as the “moments of turn” that in turn make various touch points the crucial determinants for successful customer acquisition. 

We build it better…

In constructing our maps from the bottom-up, we place a premium on data derived from the customers in situ – situated in their natural habitat. Whenever possible this means in the process of searching or shopping or otherwise engaged in their various goal-directed “jobs-to-be-done.” 

We rely on multiple datasets and collection techniques that are typically unobtrusive and that cast a very wide net. The methods vary but they share a distinctive style and spirit that is Brado’s.  

  1. A good map is not only understood, it’s experienced. As part of our customer journey process, we offer – even insist – on hosting an immersive client experience to ensure all stakeholders “hear it,” “get it” and are excited to act on it now, regardless of function, level within the organization or business challenge. Our workshops are centered on building empathy for the consumer – prompting your team to walk in the shoes of the target through a series of thoughtfully-designed activities based on the journey insights – before aligning on strategic priorities for the brand. 
  1. Tension provides a trigger.  Our journey process is grounded in the relevant theories and practices of behavior change, with a focus on identifying tension points that can be leveraged as brand opportunities. We map these tensions as part of our analysis, ultimately providing a roadmap for your brand to influence the journey. 
  1. Our design inspires. We craft highly customized, creative journey deliverables that go beyond bullet-points to tell the story of their experience. The ensuing “insight content” helps your team believe in the journey so they are inspired into action. This, in turn, facilitates the socializing and sharing necessary for long lasting and wide reach.  
  1. We take a second look, interrogating the data. Maybe everyone lies. But we lie less to Google. While a major component of our journey work is primary research, we also look to search data, mining to validate and fill in the gaps. This ensures we have a complete picture of the tensions and questions from your target, with no stone left unturned. 

Our journey maps are built from the bottom up to provide you with unparalleled insight into your customers. But your strategic and tactical needs are equally important in providing the necessary top-down guidance to guarantee that your journey map will yields measurable value. 

…So that your customized journey map takes you where you need to go 

Our journey maps prove their worth as they get aligned with marketing action.  For example, our journey maps provide the insight needed to target the customer in her precise “readiness-to-buy” with the right message through the right media. Matching stages of the customer’s decision journey with major communication platforms is one of our guiding principles. A well-conceived and executed journey map should help marketing decision-makers determine the relative strength of different communications options across the journey and how to administer these for optimal effect. 

Marketers seeking to build stronger emotional ties such as trust will likely need to choose among a range of tactics such as PR, social media and mobile marketing. A journey map should illumine these communications choices and guide on-going efforts to optimize their impact. 

For example, Brado has found journey maps of considerable utility in understanding vaccine hesitancy. Depending upon the precise consumer characteristics and the situational realities along the journey, recommended activation strategies need to pivot or otherwise adjust. Resistance sustained and supported by attitudinal factors requires a much different marketing response than resistance explained by barriers connected with price or convenience. A good journey map will reveal these different bottlenecks and point to differential responses. 

Yeah, but we don’t need no stinkin’ maps.

We all know about the hopelessly lost driver who refuses to stop and ask for directions. Part of the remedy for those who deign to submit to the intricate guidance of journey maps is simply to make better maps. 

At Brado, we’ve been doing these maps for decades and we’ve learned a thing or two. In order to get our maps off the shelf and into the decision-maker’s line-of-sight, we observe these best-practices, which contribute to a journey map that gets passed around and reliably used: 

  1. Inspire with uncommon insight. Seek to tell the client something she may not know. 
  1. Provide a visual summary. Our journey maps are less likely to mimic a programmer’s flow chart and more likely to resemble a pirate’s map that leads to buried treasure.  
  1. Tell a story. The customer has a problem to solve, a job to be done, a nut to crack. This is, in our experience, a tale worth telling with a beginning, some dramatic tension and an ultimate payoff.  
  1. Make it easy to understand. As a wise man (Einstein, actually) once said: as simple as possible, but no simpler

Watch for these potholes!  

As the comics character, Pogo, once observed, “Having lost sight of our objectives, we redoubled our efforts.”

No journey mapping endeavor should lose sight of its larger purposes. This means keeping a clear eye on the ultimate destination: 

The customer journey map is a key tool that potentially helps us see the world from the customer’s point of view and provides us with the direction we need to ease and accelerate that journey. Nothing beats an accurate map to unite both journey and destination. 

Want to learn more about Brado? Contact us.

Jim Fisher, Ph.D.

Jim Fisher, Ph.D., is a senior strategic advisor at Brado, bridging the gap between academic research and marketing practice. He has extensive experience in business consulting and training, having served clients across a wide range of industries, including healthcare and consumer packaged goods. He is also a professor of marketing at Saint Louis University, where he teaches marketing strategy, business ethics, decision-making and brand communications. He makes extensive use of the case study method in his teaching and consulting, and he has written scores of cases and is a Past-President of the North American Case Research Association. He did his graduate work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (marketing) and Yale University (theology).

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