The Customer Discovery cycle.
You’re starting a business. Your product or service is brand new. – Or …
You’re an established consultant, product manager or entrepreneur. Now, you’re planning to add a new product or service to your existing product-line.
In both cases, your must find clients!
If you don’t have clients who are willing to open their purse and buy your solution, you don’t have a company!
Finding clients as a new and vulnerable entrepreneur…
You may be told by experts to invest in in-depth market research before taking your product out there into the world.
And if you were to follow this advice, substantial amounts of money must be set aside to fund surveys, analysis and projections. Unfortunately, such studies inevitably draw their wisdom from abstract data in abstract markets.
Finding clients as an experienced product manager in a bigger firm…
Under pressure, you may be tempted to substantiate your product development team’s best guesses by initiating costly marketing studies, based on abstract data.
There’s an alternative…
Do away or complement the above traditional approach by integrating Lean StartUp principles. In short, the Lean StartUp method guides you through the process of “getting out of the building” so that you can listen and talk to real customers.
Boiled down, “lean” involves these 3 steps:
1) Start with a simple process. Sell your non-perfect product or service to a select group of customers (usually Early Adopters).
2) Both parties are aware that there’s always room for improvement.
3) Learn and refine, based on feedback from your select group of customers.
Vastly simplified, you’ll end up with these 3 advantages:
1) You reduce waste (time and money) when you build a non-perfect product first (in Lean Startup jargon a “Minimum Viable Product” or MVP)
2) You’ll get the naked truth, i.e. you’ll find out quickly whether potential customers are willing to pay their good money for your solution.
3) You learn from precious feedback. Based on your feedback-goldmine, you are well positioned to evolve your product into something better that will sell into a broader market.
The above is the essence of The Lean StartUp movement whose foundation goes back to the automobile manufacturing industry and Toyota Motor Corporation.
“Lean” came to generally mean:
Delivering value to customers whilst promoting efficiency, and eliminating waste in the process.
The above text is the slightly modified version of a beautifully developped blog post published by Brian Clark of Copyblogger. I strongly recommend your subscribing to Brian’s ENTREPRODUCER Multimedia Email Newsletter.
And if you haven’t read The LeanStartUp yet, Eric Ries’ book, – you should as soon as possible!
Minimum Viable Audience (MVA)
MVA is a powerful addition to the Lean StartUp concept that works for all businesses!
As outlined above, a minimum viable product (MVP) helps us find out whether people will want to buy our solution.
Brian Clark, in his ENTREPRODUCER Multimedia Email Newsletter adds the concept of the Minimum Viable Audience (MVA).
Essentially, Brian stipulates (based on his own very successful experience) that the MVA gives us unfiltered and uncensored insight into what potential customers feel about our product or service.
You develop an Minimum Viable Audience…
by consistently distributing valuable information (in relation to your product or service) to a well targeted audience.
A limited slice of the content is often delivered for free and has the general objective of helping an audience feel good, be successful, have less worries.
Valuable advice can be distributed in many different ways: in the form of blog posts, video clips, podcasts, etc.
Simplified once more, you are on the winning side when:
1) You gain unfiltered business insights from comments, emails, social networks and social media news sites, helping you adapt and evolve your content.
2) You are able to grow your audience organically, thanks to social media sharing.
3) Once you have a better notion of what your audience wants, you can solve their problems or satisfy their desire beyond the free education you’re providing.
The first two points feed the third. Precious inputs from real people help define what a product or service should look like.
In a nutshell: Smart entrepreneurs acknowledge the importance of direct feedback from an acquired audience. They know that gleaning ideas from general research, about an abstract market, is not an optimal way to develop a product that sells.
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