Customer Journey Mapping | Step 1 – The Inkling

Customer journey mapping has become a trending topic. And rightly so. By mapping your prospects' journey to becoming your customers, you create a guide for how, when, and where to engage with your potential customers. That guide can help inform everything from marketing expenditures to content plans.

There are many sources that can inform the drafting of your map. From deep research to anecdotal evidence from your frontline people. Additionally, there are many paths that prospects can take. And while you can’t be 100% certain of the path they may travel, one thing is certain – there are five distinct steps that your prospect will go through to become your customer. Here they are:

  1. Problem/Need
  2. Discovery
  3. Evaluation
  4. Decision
  5. Review

Your prospects' mindset changes in each step. As does their questions. And the channels they use to answer those questions. Charting these elements is what helps you define how you can help those prospects move to the next step of the journey. In order to do that, we need to understand each step. So let’s get started with the first.

Step 1. Problem/Need or The Inkling

At step 1, your prospects have an inkling. There is something that’s not quite right in their lives. Or, maybe there is the feeling that there is an opportunity that they are missing.

They are not looking for your product or services. So talking about your features and benefits will do nothing for them. In fact, it may chase them away. At this stage they need someone to help them better understand what they are feeling.

Imagine someone who is tired of each month lasting longer than their money. They really don’t want a bank to start talking about checking or savings accounts. They want to know how they can avoid the recurring struggle. This is the problem/need. If you’re a bank, maybe you could help them understand how this type of situation happens. Maybe offer them some great tips on things they could do to keep it from happening. Maybe help them understand that they’re not alone. Or powerless.

Discover what questions they're asking as well as the places they go to get answers to those questions. Is it online? Is it a parent? A friend?

Again, this is the first step of the customer journey. They're not looking to buy anything. That happens later in the journey. But only if you’ve done the right things from this first step on.

Next up is Step 2. Discovery or The Search.