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Mirroring your customer journey, a hack all marketers should know

Have you ever wondered how to make your marketing efforts more effective? There’s a simple trick hiding in plain sight.

Jochem

April 21, 2020

#Innovation

Working with many different companies — from Fortune 500 companies to small scale-ups — we figured out there are is a powerful way in which you can turn your customer journey into a gift that keeps on giving. When done right, customer journeys can be a powerful tool to navigate your business.

Most customer journeys are created in a linear fashion. They have a start and an end. You start mapping the journey step-by-step and log how a customer feels, thinks and acts during the different steps. As a result, a lot of journeys we see are assuming a person goes from start to end in one go and therefore solutions are designed in a similar linear fashion.

There are two suboptimal things about linear journeys and this approach. Firstly; good journeys are an aggregate of input from multiple people. Second; most customers jump back and forth on a journey, spending some time here, then some time there. This means journeys should show what customers do in each stage or step of the way, but should not imply people are super customers walking the happy flow each time from A to Z.

Making the linear circular

A good customer journey is an aggregation of the steps, feelings, actions, and thoughts of the same customer-type, the persona. Journeys not only hold the key to innovation and design solutions, but they can also function as a compass on how to bring your business to your market.

But here’s the thing: you have to let go of the start-end thinking.

First of all, a circular journey resembles an ongoing customer-business relationship. A flow if you will. Putting your customer in the center of it is, well… a really good take on working customer-centric. Second, and this is key, it gives you the ability to see what’s on the opposite sides of the clock.

Let me explain, with two imaginary personas.

We’ll be using Carlo, the conservative local brick & mortar business owner, and Theo, the tech-savvy millennial who knows his way online. Both want to start selling goods online for the first time and might be looking for expanding their customer base on a novel (to them at least) online platform.

Experience tells us that Carlo’s behavior is very different from Theo’s. Theo knows his way around in the digital space Carlo doesn’t. The brick and mortar business owner is more cautious, doesn’t trust the system and needs proof before he goes all in. While tech-savvy Theo just sets up in no-time and starts selling. The difference between safety and an exploring mindset can make up for a huge difference in behavior, while the objective (sell online) is the same.

Depending on the way your own customers are wired, those different personas will show radically different behavior in ‘similar’ journeys.

So over to the customer journey.

We’ll use a simplistic journey with 6 stages, showing how Carlo and Theo experience finding and using the online platform where they will sell their goods.

This Software as a Service (SaaS) journey it might look like:

So here’s the trick: if you tie the end to the start, making the linear journey circular, you instantly unlock a new visual way how to approach marketing, innovation, and design.

Here’s what it looks like in TheyDo:

 

The hidden power of mirroring

If you take our 6 phases you can roughly divide your journey into two halves.

On the right (we begin at 12 o’clock and go clockwise) you’d see the acquisition phases consisting of awareness, consideration and purchase decisions. On the left, you will see the phases of the journey where Theo (and Carlo, who goes through the same journey stages) have become paying customers. In short: right is landing your customers and left expanding your business amongst existing customers.

And this is why it’s called mirroring: Your existing customers hold the answer to what you need to do with and say to potential customers. When you are able to find out what existing customers do well and like, you can make a persona out of those likeminded customers. A persona you can target by simply translating the outcome your product or service delivers to them, into a message you share with the Carlo’s or Theo’s out there, who aren’t yet your customers.

Circular journeys show you how to use the left half to market the right half of the journey of the same persona or, use the journey of one persona, to develop another persona.

Because you know exactly what works for Carlo and Theo, it becomes a practice to use their actions to inform you how to market to others like them. For example, it could be that a specific feature of your service reduces 50% of the work a Carlo did before he used your service. Now that is the outcome your product or service delivers. If you can find the different ways how your business generates an outcome consistently, marketing these becomes easier over time.

In general, mirroring works best if your insights are coming from talking to and working with real customers. It’s key to truly understand what they like, dislike miss and what they do. Working this way, you will always know how to stay on top of things and know what to do for your future Carlo’s and Theo’s. Heck, it will even give you an idea of how to develop one into becoming more like the other.

Mirroring can be the key to unlock customer-centric marketing. When you find out what a group of existing customers does well, turn their mindset into a persona and take the specific outcome your service delivers to them, potential customers will probably love to hear from you.