Episode 139 | 6 Questions You Should Ask In Your Customer Development Survey

Show Notes


[00:00] Mike: This is Startups for the Rest of Us: Episode 139.

[00:03] Music

[00:12]Welcome to Startups for the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

[00:19] Rob: And I’m Rob.

[00:20] Mike: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, Rob?

[00:24] Rob: Sound the trumpets. Sound the alarms. If we had a cheesy clap audience sound I would put it right here. There are two real customers using Drip as of now. We got them online this week.

[00:36] Mike: I’m impressed.

[00:37] Rob: Yeah. It feels really good. I didn’t realize what a milestone this would be. But getting them on it, using it, actually seeing the excitement as I did a video Skype earlier with one of them and he was really excited. Actually, it’s a small company called Ambassador – getambassador.com. They have five or six employees and he was like everyone in the office was just stirring cause we haven’t collected this many email and right away we were stoked about it.

[00:59] And it was just this really good feeling. He’s like yeah I really see the potential here and how easy it was to set up. So, it was a lot of positive. You kind of need that positive feedback to keep going, you know. You write code in the basement for too long and it just feels like is somebody going to like this even though you’re getting all the good signals, so that felt great. The other customer #. 1, it was Brennan Dunn with Planscope.

[01:20] And he got it up right away and also didn’t run into any issues. So, it feels good. We have two – no, we have three more scheduled to get on in the next probably seven days. We’ll see how that pans out. We’re working through this early access list and then we’ll, you know, we still have quite a few features, and they’re coming in now that people are actually using the app. Excited to actually do the launch to the early bird list.

[01:41] I’d say it’s a couple of months out to be honest. But we are making progress. It’s not a stagnant couple of months. It’s a moving very quickly trying to implement everything and improving the product the whole time a couple of months.

[01:52] Mike: I’ve discovered that I need to carve out some time to my Altiris training site to convert it from a subscription pricing model into more of a static pricing model. But it’s so low on the priority list right now. I just don’t have time. So it’s going to probably sit there for several months while it’s just kind of eeking out some revenue but not nearly as much as it could. The lifetime value is a lot lower for people than I’d like it to be.

[02:17] I know that I could charge more on a static model, cause people are only sticking around for maybe two or three or four months. I’ve had some people stick around for as long as seven or eight. But I haven’t really generated any new content. So, basically, they’re paying a subscription fee for something that realistically they can get through most of the content in less than a month. And there’s people who just stick around and keep paying it because they don’t want to yank out the credit card or whatever and go through the cancellation process.

[02:41] But then there’s other people who will get in. They’ll use it for a couple of hours or a couple of days and then they’re done. They don’t even need to pay for it at that point. So, I kind of step back and evaluate it a little bit and said okay if I convert this over and I just charge a flat rate of like 499 or 799 or something like that then I can just hand them the videos. They can keep them. Then I don’t have to host them and do all this other things and the lifetime value essentially increases at that point. But it’s a matter of taking the time to do that, and right now, I just don’t have the time.

[03:10] Rob: Yeah. I think that’s a really good move actually. Give them a big zip file of everything. The other thing you could think about is to upload them to youtome.com. It will probably take you 1 to 2 hours to do that. The advantage there is youtome has a lot of people looking for stuff. I don’t know if they’re searching for Altiris. But you know my course on – video course on how to hire a VA for startups is on youtome. I’m already am seeing a few sales from people who weren’t on my list.

[03:36] It could be an option. But it’s like you said if you don’t have time then all of that is just talk. And that’s a tough part about having multiple products like this is you do get spread too thin. And even when you have something that you build and you feel like it’s been automated. As soon as you hit a bump in the road like this, you know, if you lose Google rankings or your advertising stops working or a VA quits on you or any of these things, suddenly it’s not automated. And it’s like you have to carve out that time to go back and fix those things.

[04:03] Mike: But it’s sitting there in the back of my mind. At some point, I have to go do this and it’s a matter of going to do it. Because if I do that then I can actually go to a lot of partners and a lot of the Altiris partners and pitch it to them and say, you get to resale this to your customers. And it’s very much product based as oppose to a subscription when they come in and they may use it for a little while. It’d much easier to give it to them as am one off and not have to worry about that ongoing subscription.

[04:28] Rob: You know, what you can do that would probably be fast is to have someone build just a landing page. Kind of may be a longer form landing page and then use Gumroad cause it’s a really simple way to integrate with Stripe, and just give them a zip file. That would probably be the least friction way. I bet that would be a lot faster than any other method.  Cause I like that idea of just doing a big bulk payment. I think you’ll make more using that method.

[04:59] Mike: So what else is up with you?

[05:01] Rob: Well, I have two other things. I wanted to update folks on Inbox Zero that I’ve been doing with Gmail and Trello. It has been working quite well and then I fell off the wagon two days ago as we started getting people using Drip. Just a bunch of stuff came up. So, right now, I have 19 messages in my inbox and I’m now going to have to go through and either ply to all of them or get them into Trello. So, this is probably my first big hurdle with that.

[05:26] And we’ll see if we make it through or if I punt and give up on Inbox Zero for good. And the last thing is it’s an email from a listener. His name is Jerome Samuels. He says, “Hi, Mike and Rob. I wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I’m almost ready to official launch my SAS app. It’s at goalreports.com. I could not have gotten this far without all your startups for the rest of us advice. I started listening to your podcast religiously in July of 2012, and in September of 2012, I decided to get going with building my app. I’m a nontechnical founder but a domain expert in soccer coaching. Thanks again for all the advice. I could not have done it without you. Jerome Samuels” So thank you very much for writing in Jerome.

[06:01] Mike: Yeah. Thanks Jerome. It sounds like we got a lot of feedback from people who are nontechnical these days too.

[06:06] Rob: The audience has grown into that and I didn’t expect that when we first launched it, the podcast. But there’s definitely – I mean if I were to put a number on it, I would say it’s 30%.

[06:14] Music

[06:18] Rob: Today, we’re talking about the anatomy of customer development survey. And so, this episode is based on a question from Richard Steer. And he says, “Hi, Rob and Mike. Love the show. Thanks for sharing and being transparent. I’m interested in the survey that Rob ran for Drip. Love the marketing segmenting nugget. If you have a link to the survey you run that would really help me as I’m struggling with mine. Thanks.”

[06:40] And the survey he’s asking about I mentioned, you know, it was probably four or five episode ago. So, Drip is my email marketing app. We’re going to be launching it in the next month or two. We have a landing page at getdrip.com. And at a certain point, I was trying to figure out where we actually building something that was providing value for the people on our launch list. But I just wanted to confirm it cause I was starting to doubt it after talking with a lot of people.

[07:04] So, we have about 1400 on the launch list on that point and I sent out a survey. I asked them six questions. I got a lot of good data out of it. And so, I didn’t really go through those questions on the update a couple of episodes ago. But we’re going to take today and kind of dig into what Mike and I think makes a good survey and then a couple of things about what not to ask. And this is all during customer development. We’re going to couch it as that.

[07:27] So, it’s during that time before you’ve launched a product, when you’re still trying to figure out what you should build to solve the problem at hand. We’re going to touch on six maybe seven question types that you should ask, and I’m going to try to keep them generic. Obviously, I have the survey sitting here in front of me that I asked about my app. But I’m going to try to make it generic so it applies to yours. Before we start talking about specific questions, first thing I think you should have at the top of the survey and you can easily use Wufoo for something like or Gravity Forms if you have WordPress site.

[07:57] Myself, I love the Google Docs survey. It just puts it into a Google spreadsheet and allows easy manipulation of everything. So that’s what I used for this. The first thing you should have at the top of the survey is a big thank you for those taking the time to give us your thoughts basically, right? That their answers will really help you etc., etc. I use stuff like your feedback totally blows us away and it’s going to make this an awesome product and that kind of stuff. Either way, you just want to make it so that it’s heartfelt and it doesn’t sound like some stiff automated thing of like thank you for your survey response.

[08:26] So after you have that, after you have that big kind of thank you at the top. This is a survey I put together. I haven’t tested it, you know, split tested it or anything like that. But I did send it out to my list and I got really good feedback and results. I got lot of responses and that’s going to depend on your list. So, I’m not claiming that this is somehow the definitive customer development survey. But what I am claiming is that what I learned from doing this and some of the good decision and bad decisions I made, I think it’d be carried over to your survey as well.

[08:54] First question that I asked is “What problem do you really hope product name will fix?” And I actually said, “What email marketing problem do you really hope Drip will fix?” and then I gave them four or five radio buttons. And I asked very specific questions. It was some high level issue that I hope Drip would help them with and then I gave them an other radio button that had a text box and they could fill it in. So I can get some ideas.

[09:18] You want to keep this small. You don’t want to have 10 options and you also want to ask the most pertinent. I mean you’re really asking, what is the # 1 problem that you want to fix. Now, some people wrote other and then said all of the above and that’s fine. I kind of disregarded those ones because I don’t want people who want everything, cause I can’t build everything on this list. The three things I asked about were: Do you want more website conversion? Do you want more sales leads? Do you want better email workflow or are you just curious about Drip or other?

[09:48] And those options were awesome. Like it totally broke down who was interested in Drip. You know 20% of the people said they were just curious and that really help me to basically eliminate them from my analysis.

[10:01] Mike: Yeah. That’s really important is being able to eliminate people as potential customers. And most people think that I want to get everybody as a customer. But the fact is you really need to filter out those people who are either just kicking the tires or are going to give you feedback that’s going to take you in the wrong decision because they’re not going to pay for it anyway. So you have to be really careful about who you’re directing these at.

[10:22] Another thing I want to point out is that what Rob is talking about in terms of what he did for the Drip survey, was he was asking them what email marketing problem do you really hope Drip will fix. And this is assuming, and you have to understand that this makes an underlying assumption that they already understand what the product is. If you’re putting out a survey to get feedback about an idea of something, you’re trying to solicit information from them about what problems they have versus what problem are they hoping to solve.

[10:53] So, there’s a very subtle difference and distinction between the two. On Rob’s side, he had this fundamental assumption that he’s helping them with an email marketing problem, specifically what kind of email marketing problem do they have. Whereas if you’re trying to solicit information about a product you’re interested in developing, you want to solicit a little bit more information in either one of two things. Either you approach it the way Rob did or you let them know upfront. Here’s the problem and here’s the solution that I have come up with that I think would solve that problem, and here are my questions to you about that.

[11:24] Rob: That’s a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up. I have specifically already emailed this list with at least two updates about what Drip is, what it’s going to do, some of the basic value props, screenshot, that kind of stuff. I’m not saying everyone read them. But I assume there was a certain level of education about what Drip is and what it does. That’s right. You should keep that in mind as you’re hearing what I’ve asked in this survey because there is some education.

[11:48] It was a landing page that has quite a bit of information and then I given them information via email. So, they are quasi-educated consumer. So, the next question that I asked folks is I said, “Is there anything else that product name needs in order to be invaluable for you?” And with this one, I have four choices and I asked about some very specific features that we are considering developing. So, the first question was about their pain point. What do you want more of?

[12:16] The second one is about some very specific features that I was debating and hearing from people one on one request, but trying to figure out how many people feel this way. So for me, it was option #1 was I love your cool pop-up opt-in form. #2 was split testing of emails and sequences. #3 was analytics and conversion tracking. And #4 was other. And, of course, I got a lot in other. But that really told me a lot of people wanted some pretty complex stuff. Again, those folks I had to kind of eliminate from the analysis of this question because we’re not able to build a lot of complex stuff right now.

[12:46] Mike: And the interesting thing about what Rob just said is he basically asked what the problem was that they were having. And then the second thing was what features are you interested in. And if you basically do some quick math between those things, you can – you know just take the option from the first question, the option from the second question and multiply them together, add them up. And you can figure out essentially the largest segment of your audience that is interested in that specific thing.

[13:12] And that’s part of why the survey is so helpful. Because it allows you to understand what people are most interested in. So, that you can concentrate on that first and then you can move on to the second thing and then on to the third thing, but assuming that those things are all related. And that they’re going to fit in with the greater feature setup of your product. The primary thing that you need to do is figure out what to concentrate on first. And a lot of times, you just don’t have a gut feel for them.

[13:36] Getting this feedback is just absolutely critical in order for you to prioritize things. Because there are so many things on your plate to build the products that you need to figure out what it is the people want the most.

[13:46] Rob: Question # 3 was “Which competitor do you currently use?” So, I set out MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, none and other. And what was nice is I was looking to figure out how many are we going to need to integrate with if in fact people don’t want to leave their existing competitor. And there was a big cluster on a couple of these and so it kind of made easier for us. I think that asking about what competitor they’re using and including none, and sometimes including Excel and sometimes including pen and paper, I think all of those are competitors to your app. And knowing that is a pretty invaluable lesson.

[14:23] Mike: Another way of asking this type of question is just leave it open-ended. You don’t give them the options. You just say what other email marketing apps do you currently use? It will do a little bit of marketing research for you because you know that they’re probably using something else. And that they’ll tell you if they are because they’re going to know that off the top of their head. And there are going to be things that they’d probably tell you that you’d never heard off before.

[14:45] They may not say Constant Contact. They may say some other email capture program. But if that hasn’t come up on that radar, you might want to take a look and figure out why are they using that. Are there a lot of people who are using this based on the people who come back from that survey? And it can give us a little bit more insight into not just what people are using but why they might be using it.

[15:07] Rob: Yeah. That’s a good point. And you had mentioned offline that in an AuditShark survey you had asked what other like server software do you currently pay for and just put a big open text area there. I think that can be invaluable as well. I think I’m a little further down the line. You had sent that out months ago. But I’m further down the line. I wanted to be more specific. I didn’t just want to broad range of things. I was asking them specifically to figure out what to integrate with. But I also think that your question could be really important as you’re trying to kind of feel out what it is that people are using.

[15:38] Mike: The specific question I asked was “Do you currently use any services for monitoring your web server. If so, which ones and why?” And part of that was to understand what other things people are using but in some ways that gives you price points that they’re already comfortable paying. So that was helpful to me because it helps me in figuring out what I should be charging. Because if somebody else’s is already paying for New Relic for example. New Relic is not a cheap solution. But if they’re already paying for it and they’re interested in AuditShark, and they’re looking to fill out the survey and provide me with that information then chances are that I could probably get away with charging something along those lines.

[16:17] So, it can help you in terms of price points. It can also help you in terms of understanding why is it they currently pay for those solutions? So then you can integrate that information back into your marketing collateral and say “Well, you’re interested in New Relic because you want high up time. AuditShark can help you do that and here are the reasons that it can do it and here is how it does it.”

[16:36] Rob: The next question asked which question # 4 was “Are you planning to continue using your exiting product type as long as product name integrates with it?” So mine was are you planning to continue using your existing email marketing app as long as Drip integrates with it. Not everyone needs to ask this question because it’s not relevant. But Drip can potentially be seen as add on to something like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

[17:00] I didn’t know how many people plan on staying with their MailChimp account and how many people just wanted to wholesale runaway from Mail Chimp and come to Drip. And my answers, the first one is “Yup, if I can get the benefit of Drip and ensure that every subscriber is also added to my existing list, I’m all for it.” And the other answer was “No way. I’m looking to cut bait and run to Drip with arms open wide.”

[17:21] And frankly, the vast majority wants to get the benefit of Drip and ensure every subscriber is also added to their existing list. And obviously, it’s really good for me to know. It shows that, one, that people probably will like their existing providers or just have that confidence in their existing providers. They already know the features and they don’t want to go to the headache of moving. But there was a chunk of people who also did want to move in. So that means, at some point, we’re going to have to implement enough features that we can essentially not replace everything in a MailChimp or Constant Contact.

[17:49] But we know that we’re going to need broadcast emails as an example, which is something that really Drip doesn’t need by itself. But to replace a MailChimp you have to have something like broadcast emails. So, again, this isn’t necessarily a question everyone needs to ask. But given what I knew and what I’d been hearing this is how I was able to clarify that in my mind and actually put some data to the numbers. I should have mentioned this earlier. But I had about 1400 on the list when I emailed and I got over 300 responses.

[18:17] And so a really good response rate in my opinion. And as a result, the data it’s pretty clean and it’s pretty clear and indicative of what I think what the majority wanted.

[18:25] Mike: Yeah. I like that you asked this question. Cause it is important to understand whether or not people are looking to just outright switch from some other products, or whether they just want some sort of integration, or they’re looking at your product as an add on not necessarily a replacement for other things that they’re already using. Because in some ways they set up expectation for you because they’re expecting to be able to completely move off say MailChimp for example

[18:50] Then they’re going to expect that a lot of the features that are in MailChimp are also going to be in Drip. And when they sign up for it, they’re going to be extremely disappointed when that’s not the case because that’s not what you were building. You were not building a replacement for MailChimp.

[19:01] Rob: Right. And I bet that on our marketing side, we’re going to add that verbiage. We are not a replacement for MailChimp or Constant Contact. We are an add-on. I mean that’s probably how – when we launched, I bet I’ll have that verbiage somewhere on there. Some the next question that I asked was “How do you spend your days?” The options I gave were running a startup/software company, email marketing, online marketing and other. And with this one, I was trying to figure out which role – chose which of the options above.

[19:34] I wanted to figure out which role really wanted the split testing, which role really wanted more leads versus more website conversions. And this was infinitely helpful because I know where to reach these certain demographics. I have reached in to some of them and not others. Actually, the more I dug into the data – there were a lot of folks who would say like other. It’d say 9 to 5 and looking to launch, a startup type thing. So, I was able to put even more of them into that software/startup company bucket. I definitely think I almost didn’t ask this question. I didn’t do it till the end. And I think this is one thing I would put on every survey I ask for now on. Because it just allows you to see the responses that are really going to matter to you.

[20:15] Mike: Because you need to know who it is that’s answering your survey. Because if you’re just getting this generic answers from people – it can be kind of hard to figure out sort of role they play in the company that they’re responding from. So, if they’re not the decision maker, for example, then their answers aren’t going to make a world of difference than if they’re the startup founder.  And they are the ones who are calling the shots, and they’re the ones who are saying what they do and they pay for it. So, you want to give a little bit more credibility to the people who were cutting the checks versus the people who are just doing the marketing or essentially carrying out the needs of the company.

[20:48] Rob: So the sixth and final question that I asked was your email. And I put in quotes, if you’re interested in early access. This was surprising. 85% of the people who fill out the survey put their email in there. Now, I already have their email, right? Cause I just emailed them. But what this allowed me to do is now I have a full view of what that person with that email actually needed. So, I can go back and say okay Drip is going to focus on website conversion first rather than the other options that I named because the vast majority wanted that.

[21:19] Then we already have, in terms of the features asked about, we already have a pop-up form. And we’re going to do split testing. We already have analytics. So, I could group those together. We already have a MailChimp integration. So slowly I can just by sorting and copying and pasting and I could figure out my early early bird list. I very well may do a three-layer launch. Right now, I’m dealing one on one with early access customers.

[21:40] Then I may do a group of this early early bird or pre-early bird list, which are the group of people who answered basically all inline with everything we’re already doing with Drip and are very much in line with it. They’re going to be the most likely to use Drip, get value out of it, and most likely to convert. You know, they answered all the question inline with what we’re doing with Drip. And so, I might just launch to them and get them in and then work on some features for them and then do the final launch to the entire list, which would obviously convert less.

[22:11] You know that way I’m not trying to manage everyone coming in at once with a bunch of future request. Cause what you’re going to do is you’re going to get folks in who really want a bunch of complex workflow or other features that you really don’t want to build. And there’s a lot of noise when that happens. And if I can keep it to my core audience of people who really know what Drip is, what it’s about, and know that it provide value for them based on these responses, it will be an easier time for that few months building something that really helps this people out.

[22:41] Mike: Yeah. I did the exact same thing when I was putting together the survey for AuditShark. When you asked people for their email address you can take that into account and segment your early access list into several different groups of people. One of the things that people just kind of assume is that in the early access it’s going to be everybody all at once or you’re going to be allowed along with all the other early access people, but that’s not necessarily the case.

[23:05] What you’re going to go is you’re going to have to phase your early access to separate out the people who are going to be interested in the features that you have available when those features are available. So if you’re interested in feature 1 and you got that implemented now, you let those people know. And then if you got feature 2 that people have comment to your list and they’ve gone through that survey and say “hey, I’m interested in feature 2 and that’s the most important thing to me.” You let them in. It’s kind of a phase 2, maybe a month later when you actually got that feature ready.

[23:35] So, you don’t just open up the flag gate to your early access list all at once. You’d phase them in over time and you do that based on things that they said that they were interested in.

[23:44] Rob: The seventh question that you may want to consider asking, and that several people wrote me directly and said you should have included, is you might want to include an open text field just for more comments and other suggestions. I didn’t do it on purpose. I actually didn’t want other comments and suggestion. I really want these very specific answers to these very specific questions. And that’s the point that I’m at. We’re focused. We’re moving forward. We’re building very specific feature.

[24:08] So to get a slew of just new feature ideas about email marketing it’s not necessarily something that I want. Now I did get some emails with some interesting thoughts and interesting suggestion. Almost none of them were that new. And I still have to parse through them. You know, there are things that we’re pretty much are already looking at. We’ve already considered. At the same time, there were several people who replied and let me know, hey, you should have included it. So you may want to include it.

[24:31] Mike: As Rob said earlier.  I mean this is the not end all be all of the things you should ask. You definitely want to ask things that are pertinent to the applications that you’re building or that you’re interested in building. I mean for AuditShark one of the questions I asked was “What are the two primary concerns you will have about this type of service?” And I asked that because I wanted to know what objections people would have to somebody to somebody coming in and auditing their servers and pulling security information from their servers.

[24:57] And I was very clear upfront in the survey and I say this will pipe data from your machine out into the cloud. And I wanted to know if that was going to raise objections. And if so, how would I address those in the marketing material cause I’m going to have to address them at some point. I’m not going to be talking to everybody upfront and explaining to them in explicit detail with my voice and experience saying this is what I’ll do and this is how I’m going to handle it. Because I need to know that I can convince people from a website that I’m going to do all of these things and help protect their data.

[25:28] Rob: Very nice. I really like that question actually. I think that can be very useful for a lot of people. So, the last thing I’ll note about the survey – well there’s two things I guess. The last one is after they took the survey they get a confirmation page. And Google’s default text is it’s kind of lame. It’s generic. It says something like your request has been submitted and that’s not interesting. So add some personality to it. I said thanks a million for taking the time to let us know how you’d like to use Drip. We’ll be in touch as launch approaches.

[25:54] It’s nothing fancy. But at least it lets them know that you’re really going to listen to them. And I think the other thing I wanted to say is with every email I’ve sent to this list including the survey one, I’m receiving 20 or 30 replies and lot of people asking to be on the early access list. And that’s to me a good sign. I think that if you’re sending this out and no one is responding then either your list is not primed. Your list is not the right target audience or you’re just doing something a little off with your marketing. So keep that in mind as you move forward and maybe make adjustments if folks aren’t responding to it.

[26:26] Mike: So, we’ve talked about the things that you should be doing and should be asking. What are some of the things they should not ask?

[26:32] Rob: The first thing I think of to never ask is here’s this list of features we have in mind, go ahead and rank them or here’s a list of features we have in mind, rank them all on a 1 to 10 basis. That’s asking a lot of people. You’re going to get so many fewer responses if you ask a question like that.

[26:51] Mike: I think the other problem with that sort of question is that you’re asking them to rank all of these things, and they may put something at the bottom because it’s completely irrelevant to them. It has nothing to do with how important it is. It’s completely immaterial to them. A lot of this that you use for this types of thing, it kind of forces them to choose each of those things. So, you have to be really clear about that.

[27:11] Rob: I think correlated to this one is don’t ask anything that takes anything more than a checkbox or a quick note.

[27:18] Mike: Yeah. That’s a really good point too. Because there are some thing that they’re going to know off the top of their head. So, it’s okay to ask some open-ended questions where they’re going to have something to say about it or they’re going to list off a couple of products that they currently use. But is very very different to ask them, you know start asking opinions. And if you can focus what your question is and focus it down on yes/no and start validating the assumptions, that’s what you’re really interested in.

[27:45] And that’s why you run this survey cause they’re validating your assumptions. If you start making things too open-ended, it’s really hard to do that. Because then you’ll have to start sifting through the data. And it’s not always clear cut whether or not somebody means X or Y when they start expounding upon their ideas.

[28:01] Rob: Yeah. That’s a good point. The broader your questions are, the more time it takes and the less accuracy you have in these surveys. And so all my questions are pretty specific because I had one on one conversation with at least 30 people, whether it was conversation via email some are via Skype and some are on at MicroConf. And I had all these ideas and thoughts and different features ideas and value propositions. And I was trying to nail down of those which specifically does my launch list want the most. And that’s why I was able to be so specific.

[28:30] So, open-ended question while they can be dangerous, it is totally I think reasonable to put an open text box. They’re not required at the bottom like we said, right? To have that kind of comment thing so people can give other thoughts. But make that kind of that main part of your survey, that you’re grabbing data from, you don’t know enough of your product if you’re asking questions like that. The next thing what not to ask is you shouldn’t be asking about you or your product. You should be asking about their preferences.

[28:59] And so a question like tell me what competitors you see for this product. You’re asking people to think hard, potentially do some research. I’m not a fan of that question. What I prefer is tell me what competitor you are using? It’s a really easy question to answer or what have you used in the past. Something like that. It’s so fast. It allows people to not have to feel burden like they have to really rack their brain for these answers.

[29:27] Mike: The last thing you need to keep in my mind about what not to ask is don’t ask about features you’re not planning to build for months for years. And a corollary to that is don’t ask about things that you don’t immediately need to know, because if you’re not going to act on that information in the very near future then essentially it’s irrelevant. You’re asking them something for the sake of asking them not because you’re going to use the data. You really want to ask them things that are going to be relevant to you and that you can act on.

[29:52] Rob: So to recap. Six questions you probably want to ask in a customer development survey are: 1. What problem do you really hope product name will fix? 2. Anything else product name needs in order for it to be invaluable to you? 3. Which competitor do you currently use? 4. Are you planning to continue using your existing product type as long as product name integrates with it? 5. How do you spend your days? 6. Your email if you’re interested in early access? And no. 7 is a maybe and that’s an open text field for comments.

[30:21] And if you have comments for us, call our voice mail number at 888-801-9690 or email us at question questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribes to us in iTunes by searching for startups or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com where you’ll also find a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.

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6 Responses to “Episode 139 | 6 Questions You Should Ask In Your Customer Development Survey”

  1. Hey Rob and Mike, thanks for answering the question in so much detail – just awesome. It really helped me and me survey goes live next week!


  2. Awesome; glad it was helpful for you!

  3. Good show guys


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