BEFORE Creating a Marketing Plan, do Customer Journey Mapping
We would all be better marketers if we approached it from a place of wanting to let people know that our solutions exist whose lives will be better because of what we do.
Mapping out your customer journey is one of the best ways to identify what actions your business can take to better find, connect with, and serve your ideal client.
Need More Business?
If you need to get the word out about your business and bring in more clients, you're probably thinking about your sales and marketing strategy. If you're like me, this can often times feel like the most painful part of being a business owner. Are you conjuring up images of cold-calling pests, relentless hard-sellers, and annoying ads?
Yep, let's stop right there. This is not the way to get more business and why I think a lot of us have gotten a bad taste in our mouths for marketing and sales. However, if you're doing it right, it shouldn't feel inauthentic.
If you want to shift your thinking like this and be a better marketer, before you even start thinking about developing your marketing plan, I recommend you do one very important thing first: Customer Journey Mapping.
What is Customer Journey Mapping?
Customer Journey Mapping is just a fancy term for laying out the experience, or journey, your customers go through from the moment their need for your services forms to what happens after they hire you and everything in between.
The better you are at this, the better you'll be at marketing and the better you'll be at delivering an amazing client experience. All of this will inevitably bring you more business and allow you to have a bigger impact, and at the end of the day, that's what we're really trying to solve for, right?!
Even though this process has a fancy name, don't avoid doing this because you think it's going to be a super difficult process, or that it's only relevant to large corporations. When you really look at what I'm going to teach you, it's actually very common sense, and I believe that this is SO important for all businesses to do, even sole proprietorships and small businesses.
Know Whose Journey You're Mapping
To map out your customer's journey, you want to first know who your ideal customer, or client, is. If you don't know, checkout my post, How to Identify Your Ideal Client. How you effectively market and sell to one type of person is totally different than how you effectively market and sell to another type of person. This is because the customer journey is different for each type of client, so you want to have a clear client profile in mind when you do this, so let's start with your ideal client, the kind you desperately want more of. If you have multiple and distinct endeavors with multiple and distinct ideal clients, you can do this exercise for each.
Hypothesize What Currently Happens
If you have access to a whiteboard, this is a great time to use it. If not, I suggest you do this first part by hand, not on your computer.
Start by laying out what steps your clients take from beginning to end. Start with the moment their need for your services arise and continue through all the way until after your work with them is done. Some of this you will know and some of this you will need give it your best guess. You can even go ask your past and present clients to share the specifics of their experience with you. If you have an intake questionnaire or notes from past kickoff meetings, this is a great place to pull information from.
Example stages of the journey
Need: What's their problem or challenge and how to do they feel about it?
Explore: How do they try to find a solution to their problem? Where do they turn?
Consider: What solutions are they considering (including yours) and how did they find out about them?
Purchase: How do they arrive at a decision and what happens when they choose you?
Service: What are the steps they go through in working with you and what is that experience like?
Loyalty: Does anything happen after you're done working with them (for example referring you new clients or coming back to hire you in the future) or do they disappear off the face of the earth?
If these steps aren't relevant or useful to you, choose different ones. Don't overthink it and don't worry about the format - just draw the flow of what your customer feels and does and how they interact with your business.
Here's an example I did back in the day for my coworking business, Platform 53.
Take a hard look at your current customer journey and identify changes or improvements that would be the client experience better and increase sales. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and walk through this journey. How do you feel? What do you wish were a better experience? What's missing?
Things to consider
How can they become aware of you sooner?
How can you shorten their consideration period and increase purchases?
How can you delight them as a customer?
How can you turn them into an evangelist?
How else can you be more proactive?
Here's what my journey looked like after I marked all of my opportunities...
If you identified a LOT of opportunities like I did, don’t get overwhelmed. Mark your TOP priorities which should be the things that will make the BIGGEST impact on client experience and sales. You can see that I had an enormous amount of ways that I could improve my customer's journey. I themed them and picked the most important ones.
Create Your Ideal Journey
Now that you've identified what improvements you want to make, I want you to map out the IDEAL journey you want to create for your customers. This new journey will optimize your client experience and ideally increase your sales.
When you're laying this out, it's helpful to think about what information is useful and ACTIONABLE. This customer journey map is something that you should reference as you create your marketing plan and client process, so start with what's helpful for you in those scenarios.
If you do a Google image search for 'Customer Journey Map', you get a very wide range of styles and formats ranging from simple and visual to complex and info-packed. Here are a few examples:
Below is a format I created I thought would be most useful for my Customer Journey Maps and has worked well for my clients. You can see my first draft on the whiteboard and then the more polished document that I created to reference often.
Customer Journey Map Template
I created a free template for you to use as you map out your ideal customer journey. You can download it below:
Using it to Build Your Marketing Strategy
So, how do you get from the Customer Journey Map to a marketing strategy and plan? I've created my template to help you do exactly this. The top three rows are all about the customer - their needs and motivations, emotions, and actions.
The bottom three rows are all about what your business does about those things. This is what will feed directly into the creation of your marketing plan. Let me break down the bottom half of the chart for you.
This is how you can take action based on your ideal client's needs, taking into account their motivations, actions, and emotions. These will highlight the goals of your marketing and sales efforts.
This is what channels and methods you'll use to interact with your ideal client and make those opportunities come to life. These will highlight what marketing methods and channels to use.
Moment of Truth
This is what you want to happen and how you know your touchpoints worked. This will highlight the key phases of your marketing success (or sales funnel) and give you clear goals to aim for with each one of your marketing actions.
Examples of How This Comes to Life
In the NEED stage, your marketing efforts could educate your ideal clients on the fact that there are solutions out there for them if your industry is not very established or if you're doing things differently and better.
In the EXPLORE stage, you can provide them with free and valuable content that gets them started on solving their needs while establishing you as a trustworthy authority in this space when they get stuck solving it themselves and want some expert guidance or someone to do it for them.
In the CONSIDER stage, you want to help them overcome their purchase barriers more quickly, show why you're the best option, and maybe even create a sense of urgency for them to make a decision, perhaps with a special limited-time deal.
In the PURCHASE/SERVE stage, you want to create an amazing client experience so that they will evangelize for you even in the LOYALTY/POST-PURCHASE stage. In this stage you can even upsell them by showing them how you can solve more of their problems once you've solved the first ones.
In a Nutshell
Customer journey mapping...
Helps you shift your thinking to be a better marketer.
Is one of the best ways to identify what actions your business can take to better find, connect with, and serve your ideal client.
Requires that you first know who your ideal customer, or client, is.
Starts by laying out the steps your clients currently take, from need formation through hiring you.
Then identifies changes or improvements that would make the client experience better and increase sales.
Uses this info to plot out the ideal customer journey to optimize your client experience and sales.
Informs your marketing plan with opportunities, touchpoints, and moments of truth captured in your Customer Journey Map.
Ready for some customer journey mapping?
If so, don't forget to grab my free template to map out your ideal customer journey below.
You might also be interested in these articles
I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.
Want More Strategy Tips?
Sign up to get these strategy articles delivered to your inbox every week.