Archive 27/02/2024.

Marketing (for a shoe company)


Hi all,

My name is Kennedy Collins; I self-identify as a product manager with a background in design and marketing. Lately, I’ve been doing a bit of marketing consulting, and the maps I want to discuss are related to that work. I was working on the digital presence for a shoe company, and so I started out by creating a very simple map with the shoe company user’s customer journey at the top:

That revealed a few things to us (mostly about how they were treating their website & ecom platform vs. how evolved those components are in the market), but I also though it would be useful to map the company’s needs:

This is where things started to get a little confusing for me — I was pretty sure I had created a solid map showing the shoe company’s need to move people through the marketing funnel (by the component “prospects” and combining that with the activity of “purchasing” to create “customers”, etc.) but a lot of those components/activities seemed similar or the same to the ones represented on the user focused map. I created a combined map to explore the similarities:

The problem was that they were showing up at significantly different places on each map. For I while, I was convinced that I had done something wrong, but now I’m not so sure. Instead,
I think that the differences are fine; the components just look different from different perspectives/with different anchors, the same way that a geographic map with east up and a map with north up are representing the same thing, even though they look different. Purchasing, comparing, and discovering shoes are well understood costs of doing business for the shoe company, even though those same activities are increasingly novel and poorly understood to the shoe buyer.

What do y’all think? Did I goof up mapping marketing somehow, or is my interpretation correct? I’d love any thoughts or insight you might have.



Nice maps! I think you’ve articulated some very interesting challenges.

We as consultants feel compelled to serve two kinds of users within the same value chain: Our clients, and our clients’ users. It’s an instance of this kind of problem.

The reductionist viewpoint is to only focus on the users… your client’s users, that is. After all, the whole point of this entire system (the thing being described in both maps) is to serve the client’s users’ needs.

A more nuanced viewpoint, however, is that you, the consultant, had better be meeting your client’s needs in addition to helping them meet their users’ needs. You’re not working on one problem but two. I think you’ve handled it well by creating multiple maps from the different viewpoints. But, my suspicion is that your client has more needs than just customers. What are the others? (What needs of theirs might you already be meeting?)

Another point to consider is how overloaded certain terms can become. I would guess that “comparison” means distinctly different things than “compare shoes” since it changes depending on who is looking. It can also make sense for components to be high-level in one map and exploded/detailed in another, preventing an apples-to-apples comparison.

These are just a few more things to think about. None of it matters, because no map is or ever will be “correct,” only “useful.” So keep exploring!


Thanks for sharing - I love seing other people’s maps!

I applaud your desire to map both the customer and the company perspective, and I think some of the value of that comes from noticing just the sorts of inconsistencies you highlight here. I read once that all scientific breakthroughs begin with data that doesn’t make sense.

I agree with Ben’s point about terms being overloaded. This is not only a problem for your map, but for the business. People say that the customer needs to “compare shoes”, but what does that actually mean? When you see something contradictory like this (e.g. cannot decide where a component goes), I suggest that you spend more time unpacking that component jnto more specific detail.

For example, on the website, “compare shoes” might mean to show several pairs in the screen at once, along with their features. This will compare shoes available on the web site. But is this how a customer “compares shoes” in real life? The customer is interested in differences between different pairs in this one site, but also between pairs in different sites, and between pairs at physical stores, and maybe between shoes they currently own or previously owned. (Lots of people want running shoes just like the ones they used to have, which are now discontinued).

This highlights the fact that the customer needs to “compare shoes” in a broad, complex way, but the web site is only partially meeting that need. Although the basic comparison component might be a mature product, the more sophistocated one might be custom. It probably also has data requirements that are also more custom, and could become a source of competitive advantage.

Of course, this doesn’t require that the company build this capability - only that there might be an opportunity here. This becomes one of several “where can we attack”, which you can then have a discussion about “why here versus there”.


What may be helpful here is the distinction between the need, the contract and the actual component, which may contain some subcomponents.

Let’s say ‘use shoes’ and ‘purchase shoes’ are well defined for the consumers (customer customers), but that would mean, at least for me, that the output of said actions is well defined. You know what you have to do to get new shoes and use them.

It is not exactly the same thing from the producer perspective. The producer tries to satisfy user needs in a very specific way, through his shoes, which means that he may look for a value chain that is not the most stable one, but delivers best results.

The race is happening below the contract. Users do not see it, just producers, and it is fine (for the business) as long as the whole system delivers acceptable output.

This is spot on. Compare means something different for different actors.

I second that, too. More, I’d say that in most of the business situation, there are always multiple goals - work for the benefit of the company (one map), work for your boss (second map) and work for your carrier (third one). It’s again about conflicts of interests and finding a balance.