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!

The What, Why & How of Pins

As we kick off this new year, recognizing the many new faces reading our tidbits than just a year ago, we thought it would be a great time to re-highlight our ‘Pins’. Where did they come from? What the heck are they? And ultimately how do they define PinPoint’s business today? So many questions, lots of answers.

“Where did Pins come from?”

We’re going back to the B.C. days (Before Covid). It’s 2018. Design Thinking has been around for nearly 50 years and yet, it’s still a fairly nebulous process. Faith and Stacy found themselves at the tail end of starting an in-house design thinking team for one of the world’s largest food providers in sports & entertainment – the joint venture they pursued following their time together at an innovation consultancy in Chicago.

As Faith describes it, the two locked themselves in a room and by the end of the day, had a business, a model, a name and (at least the start of!) a logo. It was officially the day ‘Pins’ were born. However, our founders don’t pride themselves on how fast they created Pins, but rather why they did. The notion of Pins came as fast as it did because (novel idea) Faith and Stacy applied design thinking to design thinking. They unpacked the many pain points businesses had with the design thinking processes of their past – from cost of entry to the ambiguous outputs that ended up attracting dust in a desk drawer.

Pins were created to be design thinking modules – each a bite size process with a distinct and actionable output – that businesses could dip their toe into and, overtime, string together for either a specific project need or longer term partnership. Spoiler alert – Pins disrupted in ways even our founders couldn’t have imagined at the time. 

“Cool cool… but really, what is a Pin?”

Pins are the simplest way for companies to show up for their audience – we mean deeply, empathically, authentically show up. In today’s society, it is no longer enough for executives to sit around a boardroom making decisions based on what they ‘THINK people want.’ When PinPoint was founded, Pins were thought of as a way to advance design thinking into what we call Equity-Centered Innovation (more on that here!). In its simplest terms, Pins enable representation of underrepresented audiences by incorporating their voices into the design process, allowing their voices, context, and needs to directly influence goals and outcomes that they ACTUALLY need.  

So with that being said, think of a Pin as a square. Within that square is one singular equity-centered process (ie. one-on-one qualitative interviews) with a singular output. On its own, a Pin provides concrete insight. However, when strung together with other Pins, they work together to create valuable equity-centered strategies and human-centered designs. For a specific project, it may take anywhere from 2-8 Pins based on the need. And for year round support, it may look like 1-2 Pins/m for consistent and iterative innovation.

We designed 12 unique Pins, each a specific process with its own actionable output, that fall into four categories: 

  1. Quantitative Research where we unpack an audience’s demographics, their psychographics, and an industry’s competitive landscape
  2. Qualitative Research where we walk in the shoes of that audience to uncover the ‘why’ behind those numbers and the reasoning for behaviors
  3. Innovation Worksessions where we bring industry experts around the table to learn from, ideate & prototype with
  4. Design Strategy where we concept equity-centered business models, brands spaces, products, and digital tools with a reason behind every design decision 

Our only requirement is that at least one Quant, Qual or Worksession Pin be complete before kicking off a Design Pin. Why? Because without equity-centered data or research to drive decision making, you’re just another person in the room with an unconsciously biased opinion. 

“So how long does it take to complete a Pin? And how many do you do?”

Through years of experimenting, tweaking, and refining, our Pins have allowed us to innovate how we resource our team. Nearly to a science (with some art thrown in there), we’ve designed each Pin to take 1-month to complete. What that means is that we can fill our team roster with a mix of full time and, what we like to call, flex time Research Strategists. A full time Strategist will work on three pins simultaneously, while a flex time Strategist might work on one or two pins in a given month. 

Why is this important to us? Because more lived experiences on our team means more diverse perspectives in our work. Pins have allowed us to hire new moms, educators, and industry leaders looking to challenge themselves in ways a typical 9 to 5 wouldn’t allow. This diversity in lifestyle has led to deeper empathy within our team and within our work – while also disrupting the hiring model and giving opportunity to brilliant minds who need their brilliance shared with the world.

The last piece to the internal puzzle is the Pin Pipeline. When Faith & Stacy started PinPoint, they were determined not to let profit drive the business. Profit-able, of course, but money above impact was not an option. Over the years, we have experimented with 3, 5, 8, up to 10 Pins running concurrently before finding our sweet spot for 2023. This year, our Pin Pipeline may be condensing to 6-Pins per month, but it means the quality of our outputs and the level of our impacts will match what our team and our change makers deserve.

“What does it take to snag a few of those Pins?” 

1. Be a change maker! 2. Commit to not only listening, but evolving based on what your audience has to say and 3. Reach out! Since limiting our Pipeline for 2023, Q1 filled up in a heartbeat, but we are committed to making sure the rest of our 2023 project roster, like our team roster, remains varied and diverse. We wholeheartedly believe equity-centered innovation happens not when we isolate within a single industry but when we cross-pollinate learnings from one industry to another. 

So whether you are developing a new makeup line or reinventing your healthcare brand or building a new office space – let us know! We want nothing more than for our Pins to expand our collective knowledge, together. Here’s to creating a better future from pain point to PIN points.

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 $2,022 towards non-profit communities that matter to the communities who make PinPoint… well PinPoint! On Monday, December 19th, we asked our community to tag a non-profit that mattered to them on our Instagram. The response was overwhelming! By the end of the day, we had 29 organizations tagged and we were able to divide the $2,022 pool amongst – donating on behalf of the person who tagged + PinPoint.

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 non-profits PinPoint contributed to for our 2022 holiday gift. We hope you take a minute to parse through each organization – we hope you, too, are amazed by the contributions these non-profits are making in the world.

Art for All Homes – We bring original art to everyone regardless of resources.
Betsy’s Blankets – We collect new blankets and bedding to provide warmth to those who need it most.
Birth Center Equity – Growing and sustaining community birth infrastructures to improve maternal health outcomes in our communities.
Birth Detroit – Midwifing safe, quality, loving care through pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
Camp Young Judaea Midwest – Our beautiful lakefront facility in central Wisconsin provides the opportunity to explore, take on new challenges and make friendships that last a lifetime.
Chicago Abortion Fund – We fund abortion & build power in Illinois and the Midwest.
Chicago Fair Trade – Fair trade is an alternative business model that focuses on the triple bottom line: people, the planet, and profits.
City of Refuge Chicago – We exist to bring light, hope, and transformation to individuals and families on the west side of Chicago.
CO/LAB Theater Group – We are a nonprofit that provides individuals with developmental disabilities a creative & social outlet through theater arts.
Culinary Care – We’re using the power of food and compassion to help people survive cancer.
DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services) – We empower those affected by domestic violence and advocate for social change through support, education, and outreach.
Digs With Dignity – We elevate the lives of those transitioning from homelessness in Chicago by providing them with a comfortable, dignified home.
Equality Illinois – Equality Illinois is the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy organization.
Feeding America – We are a network of 200+ food banks, on a mission to #EndHunger in communities nationwide.
Feeding People Through Plants – Feeding people with hope, human connection, and empowerment, one orange ⛺️ at a time.
Girls on the Run – We support the next generation of women using the power of play! Our programs nurture the physical and social-emotional health of girls in 3rd-8th.
Kheprw Institute – We are a community organization focused on youth empowerment and building community wealth.
Mercy Home for Boys & Girls – Help us end the cycle of abuse and poverty.
Midwest Young Artists Conservatory – Building a home with the power of music since 1993! 🎶❤️🎻 Orchestra, chamber, jazz, choral & early childhood education.
National Birth Equity Collab – Optimizing Black maternal, infant, sexual, & reproductive wellbeing.
National Network of Abortion Funds – Grassroots network building power to remove financial, logistical, cultural & political barriers to abortion.
Natural Resources Defense Council – We work to safeguard the earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.
NIVA – NIVA’s mission is to preserve and nurture the ecosystem of independent venues and promoters throughout the US.
Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance – We are the largest global organization advancing ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their families.
Rogers Park Business Alliance – We cultivate and sustain a thriving economic environment in Rogers Park, serving businesses and residents.
SAGE – We are the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders.
True Trauma Center – We increase access to affordable trauma-focused, evidence-based therapy, and prevention.
World Central Kitchen – WCK is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises.
Young New Yorkers – Transforming the criminal legal system through the creative voices of young New Yorkers.

Thank you to all the people in our network for joining in on this year’s gift to the world. We appreciate you & cannot wait to see what this year brings, together. Cheers to a successful 2022 and an even more impactful 2023!

For Giving Us The Best Year of our Lives

Is it just us, or did 2022 fly by at hyper speed!? It’s hard to believe we’re entering the last month of the year, and of course that means time for reflection. About this time every year, we start to look back on the people, the projects, and the changemakers we are so fortunate to learn from and evolve with. This year is no different… well, we take that back. It was different in that this year, we worked on more projects and more clients that align with PinPoint’s values than ever before. And for that, we are so proud.

So we thought we would take a brief pause in our normal programming to share who some of those changemaker clients have been and why their work has made such an impact. To all of our clients – thank you for caring enough about your audience or your internal teams to listen to their needs and make changes for the better.


The Ah-Ha: Brilliantly Warm was originally designed for women post-mastectomy as a way to help regulate body temperature discreetly. Our original research in 2021 not only validated its benefit with these women, but shed light on its ability to impact women in other life stages, especially new mothers.

The Impact: 92% of new moms struggle with breastfeeding just three days after giving birth. And one of the most common pieces of advice is to stand under a hot shower for several minutes. Sure sure, you know what’s nearly impossible as a new mom – taking a several minute long hot shower in the middle of the day while you’re out running errands with your newborn (or so we learned!). So what’s next? Co-creating an evolution of Brilliantly’s product to best support new mom’s differently than post-mastectomy women. Grateful to Founder Kristen and her team for paying attention to the evolving needs of women and evolving the FemTech landscape.


The Ah-Ha: Trust20 came on the market to give restaurant owners and their workers a more inclusive and intuitive training process on the topics they need most (and by law!). But Trust20 also saw an opportunity to deliver content that would make an impact in the restaurant go-ers lives, too – especially those suffering from food allergies.

The Impact: 32 million Americans, or 1 in 10 adults, have food allergies. And it turns out, the majority of them find eating out especially challenging – that’s a lot of people! We did what we do best and started listening. We walked in their shoes as a restaurant guest, understanding what it really takes to select a restaurant, communicate with staff, and manage their allergies on site. Fun fact – it’s not fun. But our learnings directly helped Trust20 develop a new training process using real life examples and tools for restaurants to build confidence with guests before they even arrive at the hostess stand.


The Ah-Ha: As many companies found a need to evolve their organization in a post-Covid reality, Airbnb’s Environments Team did as well. Their team’s unique skill set as architects, strategists and hospitality leaders meant they had the ability to show up for the company in a way it never had prior and support internal departments with needs that, three years ago, didn’t exist.

The Impact: In a company of 6,000+ employees, The Environments Team did what many leaders and organizations ought to – they decided to listen to those employees. And trust us, it’s not easy to approach your co-workers and ask them what you could be/should be doing better without some level of politeness or politics getting in the way – so we were fortunate to do it for them. Through those internal interviews, we identified a new sweet spot for the team that 1. aligns with Airbnb’s future vision, 2. supports several tangential teams and 3. enables their own team to do the work they love. Which, as employees continue to seek personal value and purpose in their work – this type of changemaking is needed more than ever.

Ramova Theater

The Ah-Ha: This one hits close to home, literally. An abandoned movie theater sat vacant for decades, disintegrating before the eyes of its Chicago neighbors until Our Revival Chicago and Baum Revision decided to do something about it. What they didn’t want to do was come in and gentrify one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods, but they did want to offer something special to music goers and their neighbors alike.

The Impact: In a metro area with nearly 9 million people, of which 26% are GenZ who make purchases based on how a brand addresses environmental sustainability, inclusion and other social issues, amid a neighborhood with the highest diversity rate – The Ramova had a major opportunity to stand for something different and they knew it. We went out and talked to that 26% to uncover what ‘sustainability’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘society’ meant to them. What came of that research was a brand identity unlike any other music venue in the city of Chicago – one that not just respects, but enables diversity, equity and inclusion internally and out.

To say we are grateful, joyous, and honored to be part of the impacts above would truly be an understatement. There are no words that quite express our team’s appreciation for what these leaders stand for, the impact they are making, and their willingness to include our team in the process. All of our claps go to these clients and the many others in our PinPoint family for being the changemakers you are. Thank you for empowering and encouraging our team to do the same. If you or someone you know is a changemaker like the ones above and are in need of a crew that aligns with your values to make change in the world, please reach out! We can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store.

So… leaders do something about it

We don’t know about you all, but if we had a dollar for everytime someone mentioned needing to ‘figure out GenZ’ lately, we’d be ready to retire. Obviously, so much to learn about GenZ, but in the process of focusing on the shiny new generation, we seem to have forgotten about others that matter just as much, if not more. Want to know what we haven’t heard someone mention lately – needing to figure out ‘women going through menopause’. And we’re raising the flag that this is something ALL businesses need to be paying more attention to.

Let’s start with some hard facts for all the business leaders out there: “between productivity loss and healthcare costs, menopause’s global economic impact is estimated at over $150 billion annually.” – Quartz

Spark your interest yet? If not, maybe these will:

  • 1 in 5 women have considered leaving their job or retiring early due to lack of support in their menopausal years
  • 79% of women describe working during menopause as ‘challenging’
  • 40% of women report taking time off work due to perimenopause or menopause symptoms
  • 59% of those that took time off felt they needed to hide the reason why 

When we look back on the last decade, companies have made a lot of progress in normalizing pregnancy (although we still remember back to an early employer of ours who pointed nursing moms in the direction of glass enclosed phone booths… they resorted instead to public bathrooms). Today, many companies offer flexible working arrangements for moms-to-be, make the benefits process simple and straightforward, set up designated mother’s rooms, normalize breastfeeding, and even educate employees on the “are you pregnant” question.

All that being said, if we were to run research on whether or not business leaders are currently helping normalize menopause in the workplace, our hypothesis is that the findings would lean heavily ‘not’. And what sucks the most, of these women (55 million in the US to be specific… aka. 20.5% of the entire US workforce), who are forced to experience the data points above, they are quite often the ones taking on the most challenging projects or advancing into top leadership positions at this stage in their careers.

Companies, you have a moment, right now, to do something about this.

Don’t lose these women – perhaps your most valuable women – because facts are facts and there is a decent chance they are feeling unsupported, considering leaving, or even retiring early. So what do you do? Well, the first step is to listen. Every workplace has a culture, defined in great part because of its employees, so give them a seat at the table. Listen to their experience. Give them space to co-create ideas with you. And then put those concepts into action. We’ll help you get started in the brainstorm:

  • How might you ensure women in midlife are included and supported directly through benefit offerings?
  • How might you normalize menopause like we continue to do with pregnancy?
  • How might you treat the whole human during menopause, not just the employee?
  • How might your inclusivity efforts address women in their menopausal years?
  • How might you leverage digital health services to support?

Now we’re curious – have any of you out there looked into supporting midlife women in your workplace or on your teams? Have you implemented strategies to support their menopausal needs? Or maybe you’ve just had the first discussion on the topic (to which, we applaud you!). Please reach out, let us know what you’ve been thinking about, or perhaps haven’t thought about. We at PinPoint are here to support this growing population and normalize their health and their lives in a way that matters. We sure hope you are, too.

What we can learn, and do, from staggering facts

This past September 8th marked Mother’s Equal Pay Day… say what? Well get ready to be even more perplexed. September 8th marks how far into the year mothers must work to earn what fathers did last year alone. Yes, jaw-dropping.

At this point, we all know facts around the gender pay gap (women on average make 83 cents on every dollar a man makes), but that gap widens when a woman is also a mother. On average, mothers make 74 cents to every dollar a man earns. Even more staggering… Black mothers make an average of 52 cents to every dollar compared to white fathers, Native American mothers 50 cents and Latina mothers 46 cents. (Forbes

At PinPoint, we’re all about the data points and unfortunately they keep getting more intense. Those cent per dollar ratios only account for mothers working full time, year round, outside the home. But the reality is, women are still down 427,000 jobs in the labor force compared to pre-pandemic. And those facts above don’t include mothers who lost their jobs or switched to part-time work when schools shut down.

Before the pandemic, Mother’s Equal Pay Day fell on May 5th. In 2022, Mother’s Equal Pay Day fell on September 8th. This. Is. A. ****ing. Problem.

As a company whose entire mission is to bring a voice to underrepresented communities, these facts are what get us up on our worst days. Why? Because it proves working mothers are not being heard and they deserve a seat at the table.

You most often hear us talk about design thinking and equity-centered innovation used to impact customers, but perhaps more important than ever, this type of research and innovation needs to be applied internally, to employees. We feel honored to work with a handful of companies who have already cared enough to take the time and listen to their underrepresented employees (shout out to the American Dental Association, National Restaurant Association, and Byline Bank). And if you’ve read this far, we hope you care enough to do the same.

If so, please take a moment before heading off to enjoy your weekend and read up on some of the few resources we compiled below. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

If you, or anyone you know, is ready to listen to the underrepresented voices on your teams, please share these facts, these resources, and reach out if there is any way we can help you get started down the right path. PinPoint is, and always has been, committed to empowering the voices of those who deserve to be heard. If there’s a chance to support others out there committed to doing the same, sign us up. Let us please change these facts, for the better, together.

A long awaited intro to… Shared Voices!

Since day one of PinPoint, a core tenant of our process has been walking in the shoes of others (hence the feet photos all over our website) because every unique perspective starts with a unique stance. Because of that, our Become Your Audience Pin has turned out to be one of our core pins when we need to learn from a firsthand perspective. We use this pin to uncover pain points and with that information, determine how our client’s offerings need to evolve so that their business transforms those pain points into high points.

Over the last few months, we’ve been working to determine how we might offer a mini-version of this Pin to the masses. So we did what we do best, applied design thinking to design thinking, and voila!, out of that process came Shared Voices! To put it simply, imagine if multiple ‘Become Your Audience Pins’ married a Kickstarter campaign and had the most magical little baby!! Or in more tactical words, we cracked the code on crowdsourcing customized research – and for a fraction of a Pin cost!

How exactly does this work?

Great question! Well, we heard you loud and clear that trend reports have given you nothing more than useless data points, so our goal is to let you (and at least 15 other like-minded business leaders) craft what the inputs and outputs become. You’ll sit down with one of our Research Strategists to share what you’ve always wanted to know about your customers (scroll a little further to see just who we’ll be talking to first!). This Listening Session will be focused on identifying the types of research insights that would be most impactful for you.

Then comes the customization! We will develop a research protocol that incorporates the goals of you and your like-minded ‘research backers’ so that the questions, conversations and learnings we get out of our qualitative research gives you the answers you need… not just what you hope you’ll find in a typical cookie-cutter trend report. Bonus… you also get one of our favorite things – the power of mindshare! The questions you don’t think of, another anonymous ‘research backer’ likely has, and you all get the answers together!

We’ll do all the research, the robust synthesis, the strategy behind identifying potential opportunities – and you just sit back and wait for all that goodness to roll in. At the start of the next quarter, our findings will be delivered not only in a PDF, but also a personalized video made just for you and your team highlighting how the research is specifically actionable for your organization. 

So who are you talking to?

If we’ve learned anything these past four years, it’s that there’s quite the variance in people’s needs – be it their generation, age, gender, regionality. So for this inaugural issue, we are slicing the pie to look squarely at GenZ women with purchasing power in the top four metro areas – New York City, LA, Chicago, and Houston. Why? Because 1. we’ve gotten more requests for GenZ research than ever. Move over Millennials there’s a new sheriff in town. 2. Women are a core focus to PinPoint’s mission and deserve a voice at the table – especially now. 3. GenZ is the largest generation in American history – ranging from 9-24 year olds, and we want to focus on just those who have the $$$$ to spend.

This will be the first of many Shared Voices – so if you have another slice of customers you’re curious about, let us know here!

Who exactly is this research intended for?

Y’all are so smart with these questions! This inaugural issue is ideal for B2C companies who are selling a product and looking to gain traction with 18-24 year old women. If that’s you, and you love the power of mindshare, get on it! We know there are way more than 16 of you out there, so strike while the iron is hot!We are selling 16 slots between now and August 1st. If you or someone you know is interested, take a look at the new addition to our website OR reach out for a chat. We cannot wait to build a better future – together!