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An exercise in “Idol Mapping”

In the world of strategic account management, Walker often consults with companies using an exercise known as Value Mapping. This approach develops a comprehensive picture (or map) of the relative value of a company’s strategic (or key) accounts, linking account worth to customer loyalty, and creates account-specific strategies for growth and retention.


To bring this idea a little closer to home – let’s say like as close as your family room couch – I submit a variation on this technique that could be referred to as Idol Mapping. Specifically, let me demonstrate the concept by showing you a map based on the Top 9 contestants on TV’s American Idol. Many people watch this show, more than 30 million, so a lot of you can probably relate to this.


For fun, think of the nine remaining Idols as your account portfolio of your nine top customers. Instead of customer loyalty, let’s use viewers’ ratings as the metric on one axis of the Idol Map. And instead of value dimensions like payoff, potential, and partnership (the 3 P’s that make up our customer value – or worth – measure), let’s use the elements behind USA Today’s formula for its Idol Meter. These elements include things like surviving another week, being in the week’s Bottom 3, the judge’s verdicts, song choice, performance order, Dial Idol predictions, media buzz, etc.


After entering all these inputs into a super elaborate spreadsheet and assigning some determined weights, they generate a map that looks like this:




So now you have the map, but what do you make of it? In business, a Value Map guides you in which types of strategies and resource allocation you should use for certain accounts – such as Invest, Leverage, Improve, Diagnose, Intervene, or Drop. Likewise, the Idol Map allows you to draw some likely outcomes for this season such as who will stay until the end. From the map, a logical predicted outcome (i.e., a customer strategy in the analogy) is that Adam and Danny are the strongest contestants (most secure accounts), and likely could be the Final 2. This is where you’d invest time, energy, and resources. Another insight might be that both Scott and Megan are very vulnerable to near-term eliminations (likely divestitures). You’d want to strongly consider how much you would put into managing these accounts.


Although this was offered in an amusing way, I hope my little jaunt through America Idol mapping has given you a glimpse into the rich insights that value mapping can provide. At least we can be grateful that there is not a Sanjaya in the bunch this year! Are there any additional parallels you see with managing your strategic accounts? 


Brad Linville

Sr. VP, Strategic Accounts

Walker Information

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