The Ginsu Knife of Journey Mapping

4 minute read
Christine Crandell avatar

Customer Experience, The Ginsu Knife of Journey Mapping
Remember the Ginsu Knife? It sliced and diced its way into infomercial gold back in the '70s. Customer journey mapping is poised to do the same for companies bent on becoming customer-driven organizations. 

Back in the 1970s the Ginsu was a popular commercial promoting a multi-purpose, durable knife that rivaled in quality more expensive brands. Spoofed by comedians for years the knife became widely popular and also synonymous with the gold standard for infomercials. Had the knife not exceeded expectations in how cleanly it cut everything from tomatoes to cardboard boxes, it would never have become the hallmark for the beginning of a new era in hawking gadgets during late night TV.

The Ginsu knife, and arguably the commercial, was the beginning of a trend; not the end state. The same can be said of customer journey mapping.It is the beginning point for companies evolving into customer-driven organizations. The maps are not end states in and of themselves.

Journey Mapping in the Bigger Picture

I recently had a conversation with a vice president of marketing who wanted to improve the effectiveness of demand generation campaigns.In other words, he wanted more leads to sate the unquenchable thirst of the sales team.In his opinion the best route to achieve his objective was through journey mapping.He was on the right track as maps would reveal how he could pull the buyer faster through their own self-directed journey.

Journey maps would tell him how to rework waterfall campaigns to mirror the persona-buyer’s steps, align call-to-actions to major tollgates and transition points, deliver the right content in context of the buyer’s needs and fine-tune digital-physical interactions to deliver a smooth, consistent experience that actually helps the buyer.

His opinion was “isn’t that enough?”

By only viewing journey maps as a means to an end, he missed the broader opportunity that this one investment would reap. In the process, he inadvertently revealed how being "customer-driven" was just a platitude that sounded nice as it rolled off the tongues of company spokespeople. This perspective is more common than most might think.

In an effort to demonstrate the power of journey mapping, I started to list out the many uses of journey map data.After a few minutes when the list contained 15 items, he said “enough, I get it.”I kept going and stopped when the list reached 30 uses for journey maps ranging from the extremely tactical to the strategic. Sitting across from me, the vice president uncrossed his arms and reached for the list running his finger down each item. As Professor Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion said, “By Jove! I think he got it.”

The Who, What, Where, When, Why of Customer Journeys

Before I share a sampling of this list let’s first review what I mean by journey mapping. These are developed using ethnographic and qualitative research techniques to uncover and document the how, when, why, how often, where and with whom activities that buyers undertake as they move from the initial business trigger event(s) to the actual solution purchase and beyond to repeat purchase and, hopefully, evangelism.We depict the major journey steps as an open loop circle called the Sellers’ Compass™.

sellers compass.png

Learning Opportunities

Figure 1 (c) 2012 NBS Consulting Group, Inc.

Developed through the lens of the buyer, journey maps capture, longitudinally, all digital-physical-social interaction points and channels, content, context, expectations and tollgates. The process, which takes about a quarter to complete, produces “maps” in varying level of detail by persona, geography, target segment revenue band, problem maturity and industry.

From the list of 30 routine business activities that benefit from these maps, below are 10 common uses of journey data:

  1. Sales playbooks
  2. Sales training and methodology
  3. Campaign-to-cash business processes
  4. Account/lead scoring algorithms
  5. Field marketing plans and budgets
  6. Employee training and enablement
  7. VOC, VOE, VOP surveys
  8. GoToMarket strategy
  9. Company culture and values
  10. Strategic business plans

Just as you need to take your Ginsu knife to be sharpened annually, journey maps are not static tools.They need to be updated annually at a minimum to capture the ever-evolving expectations, behaviors, technology usage and actions of buyers.

If you’re interested in the remaining twenty uses for journey maps, drop me a note @ChrisCrandell.

Title image courtesy of Pat Kight (Flickr) via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Editor's Note: Read more from Christine in What Successful B2B CMOs Will Do in 2014

About the author

Christine Crandell

Christine Crandell is President of New Business Strategies, a customer alignment consulting firm. She is a recognized practitioner, speaker and author with clients in high technology, services and discrete manufacturing that are driving growth by becoming customer-centric.

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