If you follow the Lean Startup part of my blog, you will know that I like to focus on Customer-Problem fit. Most startups are by-passing this step and creating solutions without knowing:
If the customer has problem and If the solution has a problem.
So very important, first find a Customer-Problem fit before looking for a Problem-Solution fit.
In practice it means that you define a Customer Problem Hypothesis for example with The Javelin Experimental Board. Besides the hypothesis you define the success criteria and you choose a method to research. The most Lean method is the Customer Interview. It means that make an interview with your potential customers to discover their problems, without mentioning the solution. It sounds pretty easy but in practice it maybe be harder.
At first you need to find potential clients. If you have the potential clients within your close network you can contact them and make an appointment. In this case you have to keep in mind that people you know well are probably less critical and say what you would to hear. To get the first quick feedback this group is very helpfull but it is better also to approach potential clients you don’t know. If you can convince then to talk to you about their problems, it is an indicator that they have serious and probably active problems. They may fit to the profile of Earlyvangelists or at least to Early adopters.
But now the real challenge starts. How to find Earlyvangelists or Early adopters?
In my previous blogs I described my experiences with Customer Development but it is hard working to get in tough with potential clients, or better Early adopters or even Earlyvangelists.
One of the idea’s is to make it automated. The idea is based on automated marketing and I will test automated marketing tools in future.
Below some examples of workflow, I have in mind:
People you know:
- send an email with a proposal for an appointment (or skype call when the distance is to big)
- make an appointment
- if people don’t react, approach them on Twitter or Facebook just after posting a message
- send an email reminder
- if there are no reactions, you make your conclusions (email is not clear, there is no (active) problem etc.)
- if you have an appointment, do the interview and don’t forget to ask for referals
- find the possible potential clients with advanced search
- follow the potential clients
- start sending daily tweets about the problems/solutions connected to your Customer Problem Hypothesis
- detect the followers within your target groups that are clicking on the links
- approach a potential client that click most links with your Customer Interview proposal (after a week of more of twittering)
- try make an appointment, do the interview and don’t forget to ask for referals
Cold approach via LinkedIn:
- find the possible potential clients with advanced search in LinkedIn
- send an email with a short explanation to discover if they have the problem, with a link to an explanation or an example.
- detect if the receiver clicks on the link
- if no reaction, send a reminder with the same link
- approach the receiver close after clicking the link and try to make an appointment for an interview
- do the interview and don’t forget to ask for referals
- find a Meetup in your neighborhood with your target group and subscribe yourself
- prepare questions for the interview by using my guide for Customer Interviews
- visit the meetup, preferable introduce yourself and try to do the interview on an informal base with as many potential clients as possible
- eventually make appointments for an interview
- collect email addresses, LinkedIn profiles etc
- ask for referrals
If you have suggestions, please drop them in the comments. I will keep you up-to-date with my experiences of my automation.