If you are reading this article, chances are that you know something about Ryan Deiss and his Customer Value Journey. Ryan literally built a marketing education empire on the concept of this framework.
It’s so important to the DigitalMarketer community that he even has the original napkin version framed like a relic to be viewed like the Mona Lisa.
My name is James Bullis. I am a Marketing Technologist / Webmaster with over 25 years in the industry.
I remember when I first learned about this concept around 15 years ago.
It was originally called Customer Value Optimization and had an entirely different structure. I’m a web designer and when I started working in this industry I started out in marketing.
When I became a web designer, I didn’t understand that a business web design is a part of a business’
marketing plan. After learning more about marketing, I realized how I could put these concepts into the website and use them to create a better website experience for my customers’ website visitors.
Then the along came the Customer Value Journey (CVJ) which was a fundamental upgrade and made the entire foundational framework make more sense. It essentially closed the loop and created an endless flywheel of customers if applied correctly.
It really played well in helping to understand how a business website should be laid out so that the traffic could be funneled through the Customer Value Journey.
The CVJ is not the only part of this foundational framework. It is usually accompanied by an Ideal Client Avatar and the Before & After exercise. Essentially, you need to understand who you want to help and be able to empathize with them to discover how you can bring value by easing their pain.
But there is a real problem when it comes to the CVJ that I have noticed over the years. It seems to me that no one will sit down and do it.
Do I know this for a fact? No. But, I can guess with some authority that most people who have learned this framework skip over it in practice.
This became obvious to me some years ago inside of DigitalMarketer Engage – the Facebook group of people who have spent some time and money with DigitalMarketer to engage with other members to talk about the frameworks, get advice, and learn from each other.
You could always tell when a fresh wave of members would join because the same questions were asked repeatedly.
These were questions that could simply be answered if they took the time to go through the process of completing these exercises for each new campaign or business that they started to work on as marketers.
I don’t know why people skip over these foundational steps. The framework itself along with the worksheets probably make the concept seem simple and insignificant but it is a powerful exercise that will save you a ton of time, money, and resources.
Years ago, DigitalMarketer invited people to a conference in Austin to learn some amazing new concepts that were going to change the way we thought about digital marketing.
I was excited. I packed up. Headed to Texas. Arrived at the event. Sat down. Excited to learn something new when the guys came out and began talking about…the CVJ. The avatar. The before and after exercise.
I was a bit dumbfounded and a little bit angry at myself when I realized that this framework…was the secret. And I realized that I was not taking the time to do these exercises.
I realized that I wanted to spend my time learning about these frameworks and exercises but I myself was not implementing them. I did something drastic when I left that event. I went home and disconnected myself from everything DigitalMarketer and I decided that I wouldn’t invest in learning any new concepts until I started with these fundamentals.
For years, I worked on numerous projects, and I took a stand to make sure that we sat down and did the work. This is what I discovered.
Why the Customer Value Journey Is STILL Essential
The CVJ is essential because it answers the most important questions that everyone who works with a
business needs to know:
- Who Do You Help?
- How Do You Help?
- Why Does It Matter?
It’s also important because it puts this information in a format that can be shared with anyone who works on a business including sales, marketing, and technology. If my clients already had a CVJ for their business when I started designing and building a new website for them, it would be so much easier to create a website that actually gets results.
If the information that is contained in a CVJ were given to a graphic designer, marketing contractor, customer service rep, sales rep, consultant, anyone…this would make working the clients and ensuring their success so much easier. We call it greasing the skids because it makes it outlines everything that needs to be done in a simple to understand and comprehend format.
After using this framework on any new projects, I don’t know how I could realistically provide value to my clients if I didn’t help them create their CVJ.
The CVJ Is an Experiment in Marketing
Everything that we do in marketing is an experiment. Every little decision we make is a series of experiments that lead us to always be optimizing. No matter how far we’ve come, we can always do it better. For that reason, the CVJ is more of a living document that changes over time as the campaigns that you work on. A business can have multiple CVJs.
Think about it. You can get this process wrong because chances are you and your customer are just guessing about what will work. The more you do it, the easier it will be for you to ensure your customer’s success, but chances are, if you are creating a CVJ for a customer, they probably never completed one before and these concepts are new.
You can get it wrong. In fact, you can get it wrong and waste time, money, and resources by targeting the wrong people. Last year, I did a session with a client where we went through the process of mapping out their Ideal Customer Avatar, Before & After Exercise, and CVJ.
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For months we created content, updated the website, and ran social media campaign. It wasn’t until we expanded on these exercises with AI that we realized that we were targeting the wrong prospect. Now we can avoid that.
The CVJ Is Easier To Create Than Ever with AI
If I were to ask a group of marketers why they did not use a framework to conduct their marketing, I would imagine that the main consensus would be that the act of sitting down with your client and getting a full understanding of these concepts is not something that you or your client really want to do.
In the mind of the client, you should just know this information (by some miracle). The reality is that every business is different and while you may be able to repeat the concepts in these exercises, having the exercises completed and documented will save you a lot of time and heartache in the long run.
I love the quote from Lincoln that says, “If given six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four sharpening my axe.”
This concept is true in so many aspects of business but as I said before, if you take the time to document the CVJ, ICA, and Before and After exercise, you will be so far along that you’ll make your life a lot easier.
Well, now we have this thing called AI. And what I have discovered about AI is that it is really suited to help solve this problem. In fact, now that I have started to use AI to help create this foundation, I can’t help but generate the concepts, expand on them, and make some of the most focused content that speaks directly to the prospect.
The CVJ framework is essential to success as a marketer. Now with the help of AI tools, you can take any framework and inject it with steroids to create comprehensive marketing foundation that can literally transform your marketing campaigns.
Not only can you generate expanded versions of these foundational frameworks, but you can now use them to reference when creating content to build awareness and increase engagement with your audience.
The dawn of AI in digital marketing is an exciting one, offering boundless opportunities to strengthen and streamline the strategies we use. Leveraging the capabilities of AI, the creation and application of foundational frameworks such as the Customer Value Journey (CVJ), Ideal Client Avatar (ICA), and the Before & After exercise, can be profoundly amplified.
Gone are the days where marketers neglect these critical steps due to their time-consuming nature or the perceived complexity. With AI, we are able to enhance these processes, reduce the margin for error, and ultimately deliver more targeted and impactful content.
In my personal journey as a web designer turned marketing technologist, I have seen the value these tools bring to the table, but also witnessed their neglect. Utilizing AI, we can change this trend, ensuring that these valuable resources are used to their fullest potential.
By taking the time to implement these tools properly, we not only provide immense value to our clients but also create a better experience for the end user, leading to more successful marketing campaigns.
As digital marketers, we have an exciting path ahead of us. Armed with the transformative power of AI, we can take the wisdom encapsulated in the CVJ and other frameworks and unleash it on a grander scale than ever before.
In an era where every business decision is becoming data-driven, the advent of AI ensures that the nuances of human insight remain central to our marketing strategies.
It allows us to balance the scales between data and empathy, between efficiency and effectiveness, and, ultimately, between the business and the customer. So, as we step into the future of digital marketing, let us remember to carry these valuable lessons forward, and embrace the tools that AI provides to augment our journey.