Years ago I began volunteering for a startup mentorship program. My background was in corporate, so I was circumspect of this foreign concept of “talking to your customers” – especially prior to launching a venture. What I witnessed was transformative. The process of incorporating the customer into your strategic planning not only leads to a better product, but it helps identify the best channels to acquire customers. As you can imagine, this saves startups a lot of pain in the early stages of their business.
I started to realize that this process could serve far more than the startup community. Small- and mid-sized businesses, as well as nonprofits, could use this approach to increase revenue and profitability. So, I did what any entrepreneur would do – I built a strategic process to serve business and nonprofit leaders.
I engineered an evidence-based methodology accounting for expertise, external evidence, and client perspectives. Through this Customer Development examination we gain a command of customer’s interests, values, needs, and motivations. Basically, we learn what people want, what they don’t, and what they’re willing to “pay for.” This helps to identify “ideal” customers and corresponding Value Propositions leading to higher conversion rates.
I chose this methodology because we all have ideas. Some are great, but far more are horrible. We nourish these ideas because of Confirmation Bias – we came up with the idea, so, OF COURSE, we think it’s fantastic. That’s our good friend Ego talking. I get it… business owners are required to be headstrong; but, that doesn’t mean they have to be foolish. I’m sure we can all agree that throwing away time and energy on a losing strategy is bad for the bottom line (so, dear baby Jesus… don’t do it!).
What’s interesting is just how much the process saves businesses. For every one hour of Customer Development, businesses save 20-hours of developmental resources. Imagine knowing EXACTLY what your customer wants and the messaging required to make them act – that’s a game changer. And that’s what you get when you use evidence; you build with confidence and purpose as opposed to throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Simple!