Seems like all we hear about these days is #AI. What are your thoughts on it? Is it going to destroy our world? Is it going to make our world better?

We’re all ears – let us know what you think!

Reflecting on Five Years of PinPoint

Y’all, we have officially made it to year FIVE! And when only 50% of small businesses make it this far, you have a lot to celebrate. 

The “traditional” anniversary gift for your fifth year is wood, and while we’d love to share a hand-carved gift for each and every one of you, instead we decided to use wood as inspiration to reflect on the last five years. Back in 2019, one year into starting PinPoint, we shared 12 learnings (one per month) from our first year in business. Five years later, we’re looking back on those 12 learnings, and sharing with you what we’ve learned about them since and what we would have done differently. (Get it, wood – would… yeah we went there.)

You’re probably asking yourself – Faith, Stacy, why the heck share that? That’s pretty vulnerable. Well, because when we started PinPoint, we did so to make the world a better place. So if our learnings can impact even one of you, that would be worth it. So here goes nothing…

  1. ALWAYS GRATEFUL – A major theme across our team to this day, we have never lost sight of the family, friends, team members, partners, and collaborators who have helped make PinPoint what it is today. To everyone out there – thank you. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: Being grateful when everything’s going well has come naturally to us, but as soon as things start to take a downturn, we tend to close off. In those moments, we should have embraced gratitude for the downtime. Rarely do we get a chance to pause and appreciate the quieter periods, and recognizing their value could have shifted our mindset from scarcity to abundance.
  2. RETURN TO WHY – At our onset, we developed PinPoint’s “why” to make a meaningful impact in the world. It’s what’s written on the walls of our office to reflect on and remember day after day. And it’s what drives every decision we make. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: We’ll admit, we’ve made business decisions that went against our “why” – swayed by tempting clients, alluring projects, or simply money. But in hindsight, those choices cost us work-life balance and went against our culture. We should have stayed true to our ‘why,’ embraced the challenge of finding the right work, and not let shiny objects cloud our judgment.
  3. REMAIN EMPATHETIC – At the root of our research is empathy. Every time we sit down with a research participant, we acknowledge the vulnerability we are asking them to share – often with total strangers. Empathy breaks down that wall and we know being empathetic only makes this world a better place. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: In year one, this was mainly directed at our research participants, but as time passed, we understood the profound impact empathy plays with our team, our clients, and the communities we support. Our dedication to ongoing ‘coffee dates’ – with our team members, clients, and our community – have played a huge role in learning that. Woulda/coulda caffeinated up sooner.
  4. STAY FOCUSED – Starting in year one, outside forces beyond our control pushed our limits and taught us to stay consistent, poised and focused. It’s this focus that has enabled PinPoint to grow into the strength it is today. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: Looking back, there were times we were too business-centric. We’ve realized the importance of shifting our focus to family, friends, and ourselves when that focus is needed. We wish we had trusted ourselves and not felt the outside work bandwidth stressors earlier by recognizing that our version of dedicating one week with 100% focused energy is just as good, if not better, than spreading ourselves thin over two or more weeks.
  5. LOOK FORWARD – We built PinPoint to remain constantly curious, whether looking inward or beyond ourselves and promise that we would always be inspired by what’s to come. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: Staying positive about our future has sometimes been challenging. We’ve found ourselves getting caught up in negative outlooks – whether it’s fears around climate change, women’s rights reversals, and AI advancements. But we take inspiration from RuPaul who says, “You can look at the darkness, but don’t stare…The solution is to create magic, dance, sing, love…create joy.” So we now try to recognize our frustration as a desire for change that can propel us from anger into actions of creativity and love.
  6. TRUE COLLABORATION – We promised to surround ourselves with people smarter than us so that their individual expertise would push our work further. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: Bringing on a team that’s way smarter than us turned out to be one of our smartest moves. Embracing their diverse expertise, encouraging fresh perspectives, and fostering collaboration has worked wonders for PinPoint. As has our own team-designed emojis – never underestimate the power of an emoji!
  7. CELEBRATE THE WINS – From large business wins to small personal gains, we promised to take the time to celebrate our wins. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: Missing out on celebrating our wins through posts like this in years 3 & 4 is a clear sign that we could have done better (see why in the Data That Matters post below!). We’re grateful to have started a weekly ritual of acknowledging our small wins with the team – we should have done that sooner.
  8. SAY “YES” – On even the most tiring of days, we forced a ‘yes’ to help find ourselves in places we wouldn’t have otherwise found. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: In our early days, we embraced saying ‘yes’ a lot – maybe too much! Looking back, we should have employed the ‘what about’-strategy more frequently. “What about instead of meeting at 10am (and reorganizing my entire day to pull that off), we meet at noon instead?” – gosh we wish we used that sooner. 
  9. LEARN FROM ALL – We purposely built PinPoint to share learnings across industry lines so that our work could impact the whole human (and not just a person in their banking mode). Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: As ethnographic researchers, we’re not just inspired by diverse perspectives, we need diverse perspectives to do our job right. In 2022, we started Research Voices, our database of unique people with valuable perspectives across the country. It’s an incredibly unique differentiator that we woulda/shoulda/coulda prioritized sooner, but leaning into #7 and celebrating the fact that it exists today!
  10. SUPPORT IS VITAL – PinPoint wasn’t built by just two crazy cat ladies, it was built because we welcomed the outpouring support from friends and family who make sure we never have to stand alone. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: If you take nothing else from this long winded post, always accept the support. You’ll learn, you’ll grow, and you’ll be able to support someone else because of it in ways you never dreamed possible. Full stop.
  11. STAY HUMBLE – We acknowledge that we have and will continue to make mistakes. However, each mistake empowers growth and changes us for the better. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: One of our greatest strengths is owning up to mistakes and taking responsibility to fix them. Embracing our humanity has made this journey of owning a business a heck of a lot less daunting. Nowadays, we view PinPoint as a continuous prototype, where nothing is too precious, and mistakes serve only as a stepping stone towards improvement.
  12. WORK HARDER – We have gratitude for showing up everyday and hustling harder than the day before. Because of this, we are manifesting our own futures and impacting the lives of others. Wood-a/Coulda/Shoulda: That description was verbatim from our year one reflection, and we woulda/shoulda/coulda removed ‘hustle’ from our mentality earlier on. We learned when we ‘hustle’, we tend to let our energy deplete so much that it serves no one or nothing well. Lean into the airplane oxygen mask mentality, give yourself grace and balance first, from there you will be able to serve everyone and everything better.

It’s been an exceptional five years and we can’t wait to see what the next five have in store. Whether you, too, are a small business owner, a C-Suite, a leader of teams, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, or someone in between – we hope there’s something above that resonates if even in a small way. And if it has, we’d love to know what it is. If it hasn’t, we’d also love to know! As always, don’t be a stranger!

Reflecting on 5 years since PinPoint was founded made us realize how effortless, yet challenging it is to celebrate small wins as they happen. Let’s be real, the big ones are easy to reflect on, but the small ones are what make those milestones happen.

What we learn in these numbers is that celebrating small wins is a form of selfcare.

Recognizing those wins can turn a bad day into a good day.

And there is significant room for improving the recognition to ourselves and others.

87% of Americans believe recognizing small wins each day is crucial to self care
83% who celebrate small wins believe it only takes one win to turn a bad day into a good day
Yet 79% of Americans have left a job because they felt under appreciated

What small win can you celebrate today?

Learning what your customers really want – and why

Last month we shared PinPoint’s perspective on personas (the good, the bad, and the ugly) – and for those super curious, here’s a look at one of PinPoint’s ‘Identify Your Audience’ outputs – but what happens after you’ve done the hard work of isolating your ideal target customer? What the heck do you do next once you’ve learned “75% of them say dining out and food delivery is essential to the way they live”? How can that fancy shmancy piece of data actually drive decision making and hence revenue?

If you know us at all by this point, you know we are obsessed with data. But perhaps what we’re even more obsessed with is understanding the ‘why’ behind that data. Why!? Well, friend, because once we understand why dining out and food delivery is essential to your customer’s way of life, we can evolve how your brand shows up to meet their lifestyle better than anyone else out there.

And that’s where PinPoint’s ‘Become Your Audience’ research comes in – aka. ‘Voice of the Customer’ (or VoC). Before we get into what this research looks like, let’s talk about why it’s even necessary.

Why Talk To Your Customers

Let’s start by talking about you. If you’re someone that believes YOU are strictly your customer, so no need to open up to listen to others and you’re more than ok making decisions for your audience without giving them a seat at the table – the rest of this text (and all that PinPoint stands for) just isn’t for you. 

If instead you’re someone who cares enough to pull that seat out for your most loyal customer, perhaps your least loyal customer, and better yet that customer who hasn’t even walked in the door yet – well then, keep on reading! 

As a team of female researchers and strategists with very different backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles, every one of PinPoint’s team members has experienced what it means to be underrepresented in one way or another. We come together because we all believe it is no longer enough for executives to sit around a boardroom making decisions based on what they think people want. Let’s look at some examples – did you know there’s not a single woman on the KitchenAid’s leadership team? How about the fact that there’s zero women on CoverGirl’s leadership team and only 1 woman on their entire board? For a company whose target audience is women that feels… a bit off. (LedBetter – this is a great tool for seeing the gender make-up of leading organizations)

Now that 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations as individuals and 66% are willing to switch brands if they feel they are treated as a number instead of a person (Salesforce), VoC research is more important than ever.

How Do You Do It?

Another great question, friend! It all starts with the quantitative data and a proprietary tool we call ‘Research Voices’. Since PinPoint began, we have been compiling our very own database of research participants and a subset of data around each so that we can recruit exactly around that person who says “dining out and food delivery is essential to the way they live” (plus a myriad of other characteristics we define). 

Once we recruit, then we listen. We go out in the world and become their best friend for a few hours – giving them the space and comfort to open up to our team transparently and honestly about an array of topics we co-create with our clients. 

For example, just last week we began VoC research for a restaurant chain client of ours – interviewing one of their target segments spanning customers who regularly visit their restaurant and those who live nearby but have never been. Coming out of our first round of quantitative research – where we identified four target segments and selected one to focus our VoC research with – we co-created interview protocols with their leadership team so that no stone would be left unturned.

Yes, a large portion of our research is unpacking why dining out and food delivery is essential to them, but within that we get as specific as: 

  • Uncovering what makes them return to one restaurant over another.
  • Understanding if ‘family-friendly’ is an important factor in choosing a restaurant, and if so, what ‘family-friendly’ even means to them?
  • Unpacking whether or not they care about limited time offers, and if not, what would make them care?
  • Plus, truly, so so many more bullets

After hours and hours of interviews, the hard but fun work begins. Imagine us locked in a room ‘Beautiful Mind-ing’ the walls with post-it’s and pictures and strings connecting pins (although a little more digital these days). What the heck are we doing? We’re finding patterns. Patterns strong enough to call insights, aka. sentiments communicated to us by enough people that it goes from a ‘she said’ to ‘your customers needs’ statement. 

And for every insight our team uncovers, we define a plethora of opportunities to make our client’s offering stronger for the target customer we learned from. Sometimes, that opportunity comes in the form of a new communication tactic. Sometimes it’s the evolution of brand positioning. Sometimes it’s a spatial design opportunity and other times it’s a physical touchpoint. If it’s part of the customer journey, it’s up for the taking because we know every minuscule touchpoint in a customer’s experience can make or break a return engagement. And our voice of the customer research is all about learning how to build deeper, more loyal connections.

Curious to see some of the insights we’ve learned – and in the format it’s shared?! Here’s a sneak peak (with client specificity removed for IP sake). 

Are You Ready to Listen to Your Audience?

Of course we hope so, but even more than us, your customers are relying on it.

And long story short, if you don’t, there’s a good chance you’re leaving dollars on the table, or worse than that, risking losing your most loyal base. Not to belabor the point (but here we are), a study published in Harvard Business Review found that customers who had the best past experiences with a company spent 140% more compared to those who had poor experiences. If this doesn’t emphasize the impact of listening to customers and delivering on their needs, we don’t know what does.
If you’re ready, but have no idea where to even begin – let’s grab a coffee. If you know exactly where to begin and just haven’t hit ‘go’ yet, well then let’s also grab a coffee. Let’s be real, if you didn’t follow a word we just said but you want a caffeine buddy nonetheless, let’s grab a coffee – we’d like a new buddy, too!

Creating Personas That Matter

We’ve all seen a bad customer persona. You know the ones. “Chloe. 30 years old. Speaks English. Works as a vet. Buys on a budget. Favorite content: video and imagery.” The ones like this that hit a cringe spot – and funny bone – all at once.

What the heck do you do with a persona like that? As a marketer, as an innovator, as a decision maker of any kind – there is only so much demographics can do to help drive content creation, revenue, or even brand awareness (unless you’re selling a budget friendly dog food for vet offices via Instagram Reels).

That being said, a good customer persona can make a huge impact in an organization. There is a fine balance between too much nuance and too little, but when decision makers are empowered by the goldilocks ‘just right’ persona – it makes everything infinitely easier.

Why Now?

Think back to three years ago. Since then, has your wardrobe changed? Have your eating habits changed? Have your hobbies changed? Has your living situation or even the size of your family changed? If you answered yes to any one of those questions and you’re a leader working with customer insights of any kind from 2019 or earlier – it’s time to revisit those guiding data points because we guarantee your customers’ lifestyles have changed just as much as yours.

Identifying customer personas has always been a valuable exercise, but coming out of a pandemic time warp, it has become even more essential. We all have reshaped our values, our priorities, and behaviors. Consumer habits have transformed as individuals adapt to new realities and cope with unprecedented challenges. Companies that fail to recognize these shifts risk losing touch with their audiences and, ultimately, their market relevance.

Why Even Bother With Personas?

Well, friend, because at the end of the day how else are you making customer-related decisions? Because you think it looks good? Sounds good? Just because you like it? Truth be told, you may fit into one of your target personas, but there’s also a good chance you don’t. And if you don’t, then you’re just making decisions for a single person instead of based on the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of customers you need.

Personas, when done right, give businesses invaluable insights into the evolving needs, desires, and pain points of specific customer types. Personas based on data and psychographics positioned with actionable insights enable companies to tailor their products, services, and communications to meet the evolving expectations of their customers, ensuring they remain relevant in this rapidly changing world.

Long story short, a good great persona should do all of the following: inspire innovators to invent desirable products, inspire marketers to craft resonating language, inspire sales teams to pinpoint the right purchaser, and inspire designers to design with impact. A great persona should do all of this without any nebulous “am I interpreting that right?” worries.

Why Not Just Learn From Family & Friends?

Yes, we know, gathering a group of family and friends (even the ones that “don’t think like you”) is surface level easy and insightful. But as we learned in 2020, we tend to surround ourselves with people who look and act most like us. We also tend to surround ourselves with people who care about us, and because of that, have a hard time saying “your idea needs some serious work”.  

One critical aspect that companies need to address is the representation of underrepresented voices in their decision-making processes. We have to get out of the surround sound of like minded voices. And historically marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, individuals with disabilities, and other marginalized communities, have often been overlooked or underrepresented in corporate decision-making. This lack of representation can result in products and services that fail to meet the diverse needs of these communities, perpetuating inequities and limiting opportunities for not only your customer’s – but your company’s growth.

If any of this is resonating, please let this be your sign to do something different. Challenge your own biases. Uncover fresh ideas. Foster innovation. And do so by actively including underrepresented voices into your decision-making processes. Ensure that a wider range of perspectives and experiences are taken into account when shaping strategies and designing experiences. Go beyond simple tokenism to genuinely understand and empathize with the unique challenges and aspirations of diverse audiences. And do so by prioritizing your personas.

So Where Does One Even Begin?

You start with data. You start by uncovering the demographics of your current customers, and perhaps more importantly, the demographics of those who don’t currently purchase from you. You merge that data with trend research. You merge both of those data points with behavioral psychographics. And then you start to paint a picture of varying types of people, their lifestyles, their desires, and how they connect with brands like yours. 

For every persona, you identify the ‘so what’s’ and the ‘opportunities’ related to your brand. You identify messaging tactics. You identify channels for communication. You identify how you can tweak your offering to better align with their needs. 

Or, you call PinPoint

Either way, please start looking beyond your walls. Please revisit old personas. And please make space at the table for your customers to be part of the conversation. If they keep you afloat, they deserve a voice… and if nothing else a persona that matters to them.

We feel so honored to do what we do. Every month, we go out in the world and listen. We listen to inspiring people with lifestyles far different than our own so that we can design places, brands, products, and digital touchpoints that matter to THEM.

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from last month.

Interested in having your voice heard? Join Research Voices!

Last month, we had the privilege of researching brand loyalty – specifically what makes us want to or not want to stick with a brand. What did we learn? Well, companies viewed as making the world a better place are the companies we also keep going back to!

What companies are you most loyal to?

If you or your organization are looking to build a deeper relationship with your audience, and drive brand loyalty, please reach out and let’s grab a coffee.

Kicking Off International Women’s Day Month

It’s that time of year again!

We are kicking off International Women’s Month 2023 – a PinPoint tradition since 2019. What the heck is ‘International Women’s Month’ you might ask! Well, March 8th, 2023 is International Women’s Day in which IWD celebrates women’s achievements, raise awareness about discrimination, and take action to drive gender parity. 

Prior to the pandemic, we hosted an event on International Women’s Day with a group of bada** women to empower, empathize, inspire, and learn from one another. Through that event, we realized women deserve more than just one day of awareness – so we made a month out of it!

Our inaugural International Women’s Month came to be in 2020 (we didn’t let any ole pandemic get in the way of us celebrating incredible ladies in our lives) and every year since, we’ve released a calendar highlighting a different task to celebrate, raise awareness, and take the action IWD strives to achieve each day throughout March. Our goal was not to add any more to our already full plates, but rather take this month to be intentional – carving out small, sometimes cheesy, moments each day to reflect and celebrate meaningful women and allies in our lives.

And here we are, releasing our 4th follow along ‘program’ of sorts for you, too, to intentionally celebrate the incredible humans in your own lives. Click on the calendar below or this link to download our 2023 calendar complete with 23 small, random acts of kindness.

Please feel free to save it, print it, pass this along to any and all women in your circle – after all sharing is our love language. Speaking of sharing, please feel free to share any and all that you take from this activity and this month – we would honestly love to hear. Don’t hesitate to post on Insta, fire off an email, grab a coffee, or send a pigeon carrier – we don’t care about the channel, we would just love to connect and hear from each of you.

Happy (almost) International Women’s Day Month – we appreciate you!

This week, we dove into data around burnout, but found ourselves in a rabbit hold of idleness. As University of Virginia Professor, Leidy Klotz, puts it, achieving idle requires people to “subtract complication” from their lives by doing things such as option out of crowded schedules or incorporating white space into the day.

Why is this important? Because 40% of our creative breakthroughs emerge during moments of downtime, yet 67% of companies are impacted by leavism – when employees use time off to do the work they can’t manage to finish during normal working hours.

To all the leaders out there – do something about this. It is not ok to leave a generation at the brink of collapsing. It is also not ok to suffocate productive & innovative thinking. yes, it will be hard, but the ramifications will be harder.

If you or your organization are ready to show up for your team or employees, please reach out and let’s grab a coffee.