Value Stream Mapping your Marketing

I advocate the use of the value stream map to outline your customer’s buying process and to vividly demonstrate how your marketing efforts mimic that process. Consider the map as a tool designed to highlight activities.

The current state serves as a guideline to communicate the opportunities so they may be prioritized and then acted upon. It helps build a shared and consistent understanding of the customer’s experience of your process and of your business as a whole. Value stream mapping can enable your entire organization to understand what the customer experiences in order to purchase from you.

It is difficult many times to stop organizations from playing what if games when we are just trying to determine the current state. I usually just take a sticky note and stick it out to the side for future reference. When we do start playing the “What if” games: What if we eliminate this step? What if we had different information at this point in the process? You are in essence identifying ways in which the quality of your marketing process can be improved.

During this process you should also be able to identify critical control points or interfaces with the customer. These critical points deserve special consideration as they typically will be the deciding factor for your customers. You may ask what they will look like. I typically find two obvious areas are the cause of most concern. First is the area of flow. If your marketing process does not flow well in its delivery to the customer, it seldom flows well for the customer. Your marketing must be in sync with the customer’s buying process. A Crystal Ball would be great but if your typical customer takes three months to make a decision about your product trying to accelerate or stretch that process out will seldom prove successful.

Secondly, a clear-cut understanding of how that product meets your customers’ needs is imperative. A strong value proposition is the first step in building a successful value stream. Many organizations struggle with this concept and do not utilize the tools available to understand their position in the marketplace. Understanding how your customer perceives your position in the marketplace relative to your competition may be the single most important issue you face.

Many organizations try to build their first marketing value streams from an organizational perspective. I encourage breaking down your value stream into your product/market segment. Seldom will your organizations products or the markets they compete in be so clear-cut that you can have one simple value stream.

Do you have a clear-cut value stream for a product/market that you can map from inquiry to purchase?

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