Revealing Your Sixth Sense

One of our favorite kinds of interview activities is a ‘This or That’ series of questions. Packaging Options: This or That (i.e. Bottled or Boxed Water), Product Value Descriptors: This or That (Convenience or Customization). Our ‘This or That’ replies often include ‘Reveals’, or hidden content that we pull back the digital whiteboard curtain on. Reveals spark responses. Charlei Hebron, PinPoint’s Research Voices Manager, applies a five-second rule to ‘This or That’ reveals: no overthinking allowed. (We’re looking at you, the 73% of 25 to 35 year-olds and 52% of 45 to 55 year-olds who are prone to overthink.) Ashley Mendelsohn, PinPoint’s Strategist says, “More than a surprise & delight moment, ‘reveals’ often solve the common issue of research participants overthinking responses. Time and time again, dramatic reveals prompt gut reactions that are more genuine (and enjoyable!).”

How people pick what’s top-of-mind supports how we approach strategic insights. Their responses pinpoint the essence of what drives their decision-making. That essence may not be something they can easily name. But, somewhere in the nuance of ‘This or That’, people’s five senses come to life. Their choices uncover their WHOLE lifestyles, where psychographics triumph over demographics.  

In our work, we admire companies and founders who position (and sometimes reposition) the essence of their brands’ identities. When brands differentiate their essence, they give people a reason to believe. People know what’s in it for them. We need more brands to do THIS. THAT’s what people actually want.   

How might we identify essence, what some call the soul of a brand? What might have been called the ‘‘It Factors” and “Secret Sauces” now show up as “vibes” and “aesthetic cores”. So whether it is about cozy vibes and cluttercore, or back to the It Factor and Secret Sauces, essence can become elusive, like access to a public secret. We believe IYKYK can feel more inviting, open, and human. Less cottage core and more core values. Like something you can truly sense. 

As PinPoint enters 2024 – our sixth year in business! – we’re leaning into essence as a sense, a sixth sense. There’s the hard-wired five senses. (You know the ones, the drivers behind sensory marketing in the nostalgia economy.) And then there’s that deep-wired sixth sense of what makes you stand out in a uniquely positive way.   

A sense of authenticity
A sense of time
A sense of direction 
A sense of perspective-taking (or PinPoint value) curiosity 
A sense of savvy 
A sense of justice 
A sense of culture 
A sense of magic   

What’s your sixth sense? How will it show up in 2024? In essence, will this support your branding strategy? Or, in a sense, will that widen your lens across the year ahead? Let’s reveal the possibilities over an e-coffee.

This year, PinPoint decided to change things up. Instead of sending PinPoint swag out into the world, where it might likely end up in a drawer or landfill, we knew we could do better. We started PinPoint to make a positive impact in the world and it’s because of our friends, our family and the change makers who choose to work with us that we are able to do that day in and day out.

So this year, we chose to donate $2,500 towards women-owned small businesses that matter to the communities who make PinPoint… well PinPoint! On Wednesday, December 20th, we asked our community to tag a women-owned small business that mattered to them on our Instagram. This year, we are so proud to divide our pool amongst thirteen incredible women founders to kick off their 2024.

Some of the organizations are also near and dear to PinPoint, but there were many others we are learning about for the first time and beyond grateful for! Below is the list of all the women-owned businesses PinPoint contributed to for our 2023 holiday gift. We hope you take a minute to parse through each organization – we hope you, too, are amazed by the contributions these women are making in the world.

abar.x – master brow artist and educator
Beatrix & Co – funky, feel-good candles for vibrant people
Be A Heart – bringing the beauty of your faith into your everyday life
Black House Farm – values using sustainable and inclusive practices to provide high quality products and promote personal and community health
Creations of Rae –  luxury hair care services for the everyday woman
Commonspace Collective – bringing commonspaces to life with the coolest local pop up and workshop experiences
Head Hi – a space for exploration and interaction that hosts talks, book launches, art shows, and music performances in Brooklyn, NY
Lena Rose Beauty – Chicago’s first green beauty spa & shop
Packed With Purpose – corporate and personal gifts with a social impact
Shift Dance – an international dance platform connecting the world through movement
smptr – going beyond “Press” to position your brand for more
The PR Alliance – building legacies and inspiring positive change one story at a time
The Silva Whisk – bringing your sweetest dreams to life through the medium of cake or other baked goods
The Write Malloy – helping great women write great nonfiction

Thank you to all the people in our network for joining in on this year’s gift. We appreciate you & cannot wait to see what this year brings, together. Cheers to a successful 2023 and an even more impactful 2024!

You Just Wait and See

When do you start the holiday season? Do you mingle Jack-O-Lanterns with Christmas trees and menorahs? Or, maybe your household sunsets the holiday lights into storage at the dawn of Valentine’s Day. The National Retail Federation (NRF) identifies November 1 through December 31 as the official holiday season. But when every day in November felt like Black Friday, alllllll the holidays too easily blend into one. Brands even coined the month Black November. Maybe there’s comfort in knowing businesses acknowledge our blurred reality. 

That comfort could be seen as an act of kindness. Amid retailers getting in the ‘black’, we noticed how one November day added ‘light’ to the month. November 13th marked World Kindness Day. What started as a day to spotlight communities that bridge differences with kindness has quietly impacted schools, workplaces, and homes since 1998.  

World Kindness Day stands for more than one-off kindness. It extends beyond Krispy Kreme’s donut giveaway. (Although, we wish we were amongst the thousands of customers that each received a dozen glazed donuts. We do love us some donuts!) Krispy Kreme was on to something though. The brand’s motivation “to inspire and enable kindness to others” shows how easy it is to make kindness the norm. While F1 raced its Vegas course, several commemorative days ran their course: Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, Diwali. Whether it’s Election Day or Giving Tuesday, kindness should light up every day. Kindness is not niceness. It definitely is not weakness. Kindness counters the dark and adds light to the world we share. Without it, PinPoint couldn’t celebrate and honor ‘curiously empathic’ as a core value.

Kindness in Your World  

Celebrating kindness also means we get to challenge the thinking behind countless “be kind to yourself” headlines. How might we be authentically kind to ourselves?  

We love learning about how people choose to spend their time. We’ve observed how our Shared Voices community shows authentic kindness to themselves through an unexpected –  sometimes polarizing! – way to spend time. Hobbies. Gaining consensus on an inclusive definition for “hobby” is itself a practice in kindness. According to Statista, cooking/baking, reading, and pets are the top three most popular hobbies in the US. But for some of us, putting a name to our hobbies is no small task. It takes authentic kindness to accept our hobby-jumping habits, that there is enjoyment to be found in trial, error, and trial again. 

Hobby jumpers and hobby enthusiasts share one core goal. Everyone needs high-quality leisure time. Think about high-quality leisure as a research-backed evolution of what we otherwise know as recreation. High-quality leisure more closely represents our lifestyles. It permits our pursuits. The cringe of being asked “What are your hobbies?” kindly exits the high-quality leisure conversation.  

You know high-quality leisure when you experience it. Look for the kind of moments that:

  1. Challenge your skills 
  2. Get you moving 
  3. Connect you to community 
  4. Encourage you to reflect 

When we can be kind to ourselves about the high-quality leisure time we need, we become more motivated to just go for it. Take the dance class at the studio you pass on your way to grab coffee. Sign-up for the woodworking session you keep hinting at. Experiment with new recipes that live in Pinterest but never make it to your grocery list. There is kindness in vuja de, that sensation of seeing something familiar with new light.

Ahead of National Hobby Month (in January!), we wonder: How do you hobby? Do you hobby? With early sunsets, incoming party invites, and tempting online shopping, can you hobby at this time of year? High quality leisure time is even kinder with an e-coffee, so let’s grab one together!

The Pain Points of a Crisis Collision

A Wider Lens
Our PinPoint team is all in on perspective-taking. As designers and researchers, we see first hand the impact of keeping our lens wide. Really wide. We strive to listen to and understand the everyday oh-nos and ah-has that make-up our unique worlds. This month, we heard families describe how brands can support their efforts to keep their kids safe. We noticed conversations about generational differences and started to wonder just how big those differences actually are.   

Perspective-taking takes practice. Time and time again, nuanced outlooks which deserve more airtime catch our attention. Perspective-taking is rarely (never!) easy. But, we’ve learned the value of making time to deliberately reframe our lenses. Wide lenses – the ones that point to diverse contexts and under-represented backstories – reveal more meaningful, satisfying, and exciting insights. Those insights keep us motivated to constantly look for opportunities for positive change. 

A Wider Lens on Mental Health
October especially encouraged – scratch that, challenged – our perspective-taking about mental health. October 10th marked World Mental Health Day. The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) promoted ‘mental health is a universal right’ as the day’s theme. The United Nations coordinated a month’s worth of events to motivate workplaces to prioritize mental health issues.

From every lens we look through, mental health matters year round. Our shared struggle to normalize just how transparent we can be about mental health is ongoing. Rightfully so too. There are so many perspectives to consider about what ‘counts’ as mental health. For some people, mental health shows up in their surroundings. They want to feel connected to their external environments. Others connect mental health to wellbeing or wellness. The relationship between mental and physical health motivates their lifestyle decisions. Others still see mental health as a hyped obsession. They advocate for a total attitude overhaul about what real health looks & feels like, not to mention who gets to benefit from mental health resources. 

Crisis into Collision
One common thread lurks behind these varied perspectives: the new realities brought on by a crisis pile-up are colliding. Climate crisis. Economic crisis. Geopolitical crisis. The quantity and intensity of stressors just keeps building. When everything is at a heavy impasse, a collision of crises feels explosive.  

As a female-led team, we are increasingly asking about how this crisis collison will play out. Women make up nearly 47% of the US workforce. Forecasts predict women will control 75% of discretionary spend by 2028. Data like this validates how influential women are, but how much does that influence cost? Women are more susceptible to a collision of mental health stressors. Role overload leads them to offload career aspirations. The impact of the collision leaves them no other choices. Collisons all add up, and they cost a lot.  

Collision into Culture
Ultimately, PinPoint is positively optimistic. We are leaning in to asking how mental health can evolve into what our September newsletter called “mental wealth”. How might we personalize mental health, having open conversations with our teams about what mental wealth means and looks like? How might we get ahead of looming collisions, showing up with our teams and customers ahead of the impact and during the aftermath? How might we use perspective-taking to reframe the crisis curve into a culture curve? One that anticipates flexibility, self-advocacy, and peace of mind?  

What’s your perspective on how to notice a crisis collison? How do you and your team communicate about mental health? What does a realistic reframe to wealth look like? Let’s get ahead of the crisis curve together and chat over an e-coffee.

Why We Need More Shared Voices

The Old Recruitment

Our PinPoint Team shares an unstoppable curiosity about why people make decisions. Involved decisions about household spending and less involved decisions about pumpkin spice fascinate us. By asking why, we see how long-standing ways of doing things impact all of us. We remain positively optimistic about the uniquely positive impacts we hear across our projects. We also remain sensibly grounded. We’ve seen how steely, entrenched processes produce unintended outcomes. Those outcomes get passed on to audiences left wondering whether their voices can be heard. 

One of the entrenched processes we’ve set out to evolve is research recruitment. In your role, you’ve likely interacted with The Old Recruitment by default. Think back to the last research webinar or trend report that grabbed your attention. What excited you: the bottom-up breakdown of sample size or the top-level statistics? How did you incorporate both ‘main character’ data and footnoted demographics in your decisions?  

We too believe in the value of quantitative insights. But the voices behind those demographic footnotes drive our commitment to equity-centered innovation. We prioritize the whole person – not the demographics – as the first touchpoint to knowing an audience. Doing so means we learn more than who is underserved. We learn whether we are even solving what that audience sees as the problem. We want fewer fine print footnotes about demographics and more bold footsteps into people’s worlds. 

Our Evolved Invitation

Meet Research Voices, PinPoint’s approach to seeing people as individuals and amplifying their voices on their terms. The original meaning of “recruit” resonates with us: to strengthen, reinforce, repair by fresh supplies. In our recruitment reframe, swap out supplies for voices. Research Voices is a tangible solution that activates equity-centered innovation. We need companies to listen for underrepresented voices in their decision-making processes. Through equity-centered innovation, we listen with who else needs to be heard. Traditional recruitment is ill-suited with what equity-centered innovation values. Through Research Voices, we are “all ears”. Research Voices gets us to hear equitable perspectives and learn from voices that otherwise go unheard. 

Think about Research Voices less as a static database and more as a dynamic dataset. Since PinPoint began, we’ve organized the voices we hear during our research into a tool that captures nuanced lifestyles. This allows us to invite people to purposeful research conversations, informed by how they see their authentic identities.   

How Does Research Voices Work?

The reach of Research Voices comes in part from our digital intentionality. As consumers increasingly approach media use with mental wealth in mind, we also navigate the hyper-fractured internet with deliberate care. To invite people to engage with our Research Voices database, we blend: 

1. Customized social and SEO scrubs: We scan for lifestyle patterns aligned with project goals, always aware of the nuance outside the Instagram box. We’ve recently heard parents explain how valuable recommendations from Facebook groups can be when it comes to selecting enrichment programs for their children.  

2. Personalized email communication: We humanize our outreach to appeal to each person’s whole identity. A PinPoint team member crafts, sends, and responds to all messages. When we invite restaurant owner-operators, for example, we can’t expect an immediate response. Restaurant owners don’t have concentrated desk time. They operate front and back of the house!    

3. Inviting screeners: Checking the box on demographics is second to enticing prompts that encourage people to think in new ways. We invite people to freestyle responses or engage in “this or that” statements. We build their responses into future conversations. 

Why Does Research Voices Work?

That blend differentiates Research Voices from recruitment as usual. People trust us with their authentic voices because we first share our authentic PinPoint voice with them. Society’s widespread trust gap touches every swipe, post, and like. Research Voices addresses that gap and goes beyond one-off transactions. Through raffles, meaningful incentives, and recognizing lots of big small wins, Research Voices builds collective effervescence. There is overt appreciation to be celebrated when we connect around a shared purpose. As niche becomes norm, we see the Research Voices community as a unique touchpoint.  

Establishing rapport during research isn’t novel. But, how might we create connections with unheard voices before research officially begins? And, how might we maintain that connection after a project finishes? It’s questions like those that drive us to evolve and expand Research Voices. Nothing is too precious for iteration.

If you feel some FOBO (fear of being obsolete) about traditional recruitment, let’s chat! We’d love to hear your voice.

Why We Chose Not to Be Niche

“What industry does PinPoint focus in?”

Oh, such a great question. One that we got asked just last week, and the week before, and probably once a week for many many weeks before that. So why not take this opportunity to answer it for all of you here!

And it’s such a good one – especially when PinPoint’s entire being is helping companies identify who they serve. But the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as just ‘healthcare!’, or ‘the financial industry!’, or ‘hospitality!’ (even though, maybe, sometimes we wish it were that simple). But it’s because if we did have a niche in just one industry, we wouldn’t be doing our job.

In a past life, our co-founders worked squarely in sports & entertainment and what they found was, while yes they became extreme experts in the sports & entertainment experience, the truth is a ‘fan’ is also a banking customer, also a fast casual restaurant guest, also a caretaker of older relatives, and the list goes on. So when we isolate our work in a single industry, we miss out on understanding a ‘fan’ as a whole human.

When PinPoint was founded, we promised never to get to a point where 50% or more of our pipeline was devoted to a single industry. By design, we chose to be evangelists for the process instead of an extreme expert in any industry. We intentionally decided to focus on the human, rather than the business, so that we could most authentically solve for needs versus getting caught up in entrenched beliefs and organizational assumptions.

Most importantly, we chose not to live within a niche business so that our learnings could translate across industry lines, and ultimately across our clients. We knew true innovation didn’t happen by ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, it happens when a tidbit coming from an over the road trucker can impact the learning experience of a kiddo in a K-12 classroom. 

So here we are, five years into that ‘experiment’, and more than ever proud to say ‘we’re not an expert in any industry’. It’s because we’re experts in humans… and also in becoming sponges quickly absorbing the ins and outs of many businesses we are thrown into. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Today, we work on 2-4 different projects at any given time. As we write this, our team members are having simultaneous conversations with research participants about selecting after school activities for their kids and defining what ‘disruption’ means for a convention center. And when those team members come together, without failure, there is always a shared learning that somehow, some way, impacts the other project for the better. This cross pollination of industry insights means we, as researchers, end up asking smarter questions, it means our clients have a better understanding of their customer’s entire livelihood, it means the business opportunities our team identifies become that much richer and relevant as PinPoint gets older. 

So, the short of it is, don’t box yourself in. When you let those walls come down, that’s where the real innovation happens. Whether you’re looking to stop following the herd, you’re already on the ‘groundbreaking’ bandwagon, or just looking to chat about what it means to be human today – you know we’re always down for a coffee talk!

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!

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.

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!