A Customer Vision Board in Two Parts - Part I

A visual way to understand your customers and thus create better customer experiences. 

 
 This is the vision board that my designers at Hello Big Idea created last year - love it and it was spot on!
 

I love vision/mood boards.

Most people in the creative industries understand vision boards. They are simply a visual way of looking at goals and what you want to accomplish - a roadmap of the future - pictures and words that represent what and where you want to be. 

  • Interior designers and builders often create their spaces on vision or mood boards - they pin fabrics, colors, textures and inspirations.

  • When designing a logo/brand/website, the graphic designer usually creates a board for the client that will provide direction moving forward. (That's mine up there, created by Hello Big Idea - love those girls!)

  • Pinterest is a collection of vision boards.

  • Vision boards aren't always on a wall or online - they can exist in the mind - ask any golfer, any athlete - anyone who gives a speech or is an actor.

I have three physical boards in my office (don't even ask how many Pinterest boards I have) and I spend a few minutes each morning looking at them and absorbing them. This is not The Secret - this is not woo-woo. This is about focusing on goals/desires/what you want to accomplish.  If you aren't familiar with this tool, Christine Kane has a great article on how to create a vision board. Often the best place to get started on a physical vision board is either online (where you can print) or with magazines. 

 
 I love magazines - a few of the ones sitting around my house.
 

Years ago, I usually wore a marketing/branding hat and often led workshops with teams discussing their customers -  demographics, needs, behaviors.

The focus was always on two big things:

  1. WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER VALUE?

  2. HOW YOU WANT YOUR CUSTOMER TO FEEL?

This post is dedicated to the first one - values. Not just any values, but WHAT THE CUSTOMER VALUES. There are many, many articles dedicated to Perceived Value and the Customer Value Cycle, etc.  and that is very important. (here's a good one here), but let's start more simply.

First, your customer's values are directly linked to her buying decisions. Identify them. 

When we articulate what our customer values, we begin the critical understanding of how our customers make decisions. 

This thinking is a bit of a mindshift for many. But, you already have a good idea. Just start thinking about it. You most likely know what your customer looks like - where he lives - his age, etc. Both based on and beyond that, what does he care about? What does she choose? Where is she her best self? What makes her angry? What makes him post on social media?

   |   She loves to travel. She values new experiences and being inspired. She values what is unique.

   |   She likes to shop, but she values one-of-a-kind boutiques with new designers that she doesn't find at the mall.

   |   He is cutting edge, hip and current. He values creativity and those who see the world differently.

   |   She has (at least on Pinterest) a beautiful home. She values a beautiful aesthetic.

   |   He is a collaborator - lots of business partners. He values new perspective, new ideas, 1+1=3.

   |   She is a working mother with her own business. She values time and efficiency. She values peace and quiet. 

The next step is to ask is which of your customers' values align with your product or service. 

Your hotel is tucked away a few miles from town, on the edge of a mountain with views of the ocean. Your best customers will value unexpected experiences that are not found by many, over convenience. 

Your gorgeous home store sells, among many other things, about fifty different coffee books on home decor, fashion, travel. Your customer values beautiful environments, relationships, and the experience of shopping more than she does price; she could buy that same book for 35% less on Amazon and have it delivered to her door. 

What your customer values doesn't mean you change your product or service to fit their needs, but perhaps you  change the experience that your customer has with your product or service. 

Those customers whose values align best with yours will be your best customers. They will be your advertising and your ambassadors. Think about them. 

 
vision-boards-kimberly-sundt.png
 

This is a great exercise for solopreneurs or for teams. Your employees see a lot - they should be a part of this. You need their perspective. And even before you do anything else, your employees will begin to make better decisions when it comes to your customers. 

Have your staff do the magazine work at home, or create secret boards on Pinterest. Then, during a staff meeting or a retreat, discuss why they Pinned or posted what they did and really try to understand who your customer is and what she values.

Next week, I will continue this thought about visually seeing your customer with creating a board on how you want your customer to feel.  

In the meantime, try this mindshift: think about and then articulate what your customer values, not just who she is or what she wants. 

Read Part II here.