Test Your Way To The Right Answer – Using Customer Development To Better Your Product

How do you use customer development to better your product? Anita B. Newton says you have to test your way to the right answer. Check out her ideas from the 2014 Lean Startup Conference.

Lean Startup Conference Spotlight: Using customer development to better your product

Test Your Way To The Right Answer - Lioness MagazineAnita B. Newton has 20 years of experience helping large marketing organizations such as P&G and Sprint and small companies like Zave Networks, which has since been acquired by Google, grow. She currently runs marketing at startup Mighty Green Solutions, a CPG company that makes eco-friendly products and improves the customer shopping experience. Today she brought her expertise to the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco as one of the participants in the Early Morning Talks.

Netwon talked about how crucial it is to know your customer. When they were doing product development for the Mighty Handle, they used the web to learn about their customers. In fact, they used three key sites: Amazon, Facebook and YouTube.

For starters, they decided to focus on customer reviews. They would comb through Amazon comments looking to answer three questions:

  • Why did you buy it?
  • What did you use it for?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?

Based on the data and feedback, Newton said the product packaging changed. However, the 12 responses they managed to get simply was not enough.

Anita B. Newton
Anita B. Newton

So the team decided to purchase some advertising on Facebook using different images to learn which product image resonated with them, because you cannot rely solely on the reviews and survey answers of consumers. Why?

Behavior can change when someone is watching. For example, she asked the audience to think about when they go shoe shopping and the store clerk asks you to walk in the shoes. She said you don’t walk how you normally would because someone’s watching. In fact, she joked, my daughter walks like a model. She said asking your customer feedback questions is the same thing.

“What customers tell you and what they actually do are two different things,” Newton said. “The antidote is watch them, don’t ask them.”

She also shared that it is important to target customers based on what they love, not vice versa. When Mighty Handle started their marketing campaign on YouTube, one of the things they discovered was that their customers loved Enrique Iglesias. In fact, their hits went up whenever Enrique was associated with their advertising.

About the author

Natasha Zena

Around age eight Natasha Zena was told it was a woman’s job to take care of the home and since then she has built a career out of telling women they can do whatever the hell they want to do. She is the co-founder of Lioness, the go-to news source for everything female entrepreneur. Natasha was recognized as an emerging leader in digital media by The Poynter Institute and the National Association of Black Journalists. She has mentored women entrepreneurs and moderated panels at a number of national accelerators, Startup Weekends and conferences such as The Lean Startup Conference, the Massachusetts Conference for Women, Women Empower Expo and Smart Cities Connect. Natasha is also the author of the popular whitepaper, "How To Close The Gender Gap In Startup Land By 2021." In her spare time, she writes short fiction and hangs out with her son, Shaun.

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