The CustDev purpose
People are used to think that their opinion is the only absolutely correct idea about a particular idea, situation or product. Many hold this belief throughout their lives and rarely admit otherwise. Everyone has their own perspective on any situation due to unique past experiences.
Fortunately or unfortunately, if you want to turn your idea into business, this strategy is not worth pursuing. The reason is the variety of points of view and the bias of each, including yours.
If we cannot assess the situation impartially, then we will inevitably make mistakes when creating a product for our customers. One way to solve this problem is Customer Development. This methodology was proposed by serial entrepreneur Steve Blank. It consists of several large parts and, in essence, describes how to build a company based on constant interaction with customers. In Russia, this methodology is rarely fully applied. Basically, they use part of it for the purpose of conducting user research. It is about him that the article was written.
CustDev (Customer Development) is a way to validate an idea by communicating with the target audience of your product and identifying its needs. In the English-speaking market, the term User Research is used. Regardless of the name, this is a modified part of the Lean Startup methodology and allows you to identify the true desires and problems of customers in a short time.
The main value of the method is saving time, money and human resources. It makes no sense to build a product for years and not show it to users. There is a high probability that no one will need it. CustDev allows you to avoid this and test your own hypotheses before deciding on their creation by the team.
Stages of CustDev: search for problems and audience
The research is conducted in several main stages. You need to assume who exactly is your target customer. The study of users comes from the presence of a problem that you are going to solve.
To determine, you need to ask yourself at least a few questions and answer them:
- What is the purpose of your business? What situation should he make better? For example, Uber solves the problem of moving from location A to location B with the help of the provided service.
- How to define the target audience? For example, it is necessary to segment its demographic, social, geographical or psychological characteristics. It is better that you get at least 3 segments. Conduct an analysis for these three segments and describe how to describe and why the interview.
Stages of CustDev: interview problematic
If there is a problem, it is necessary to proceed with problem interviews. The purpose of this conversation is to test your own hypothesis about the product.
Search for non-obvious problems of the users themselves and find a way to solve them with the help of your product. This step is repeated to confirm that you have correctly identified the audience for your product.
There are many verification tools, here are a few of them:
- communication and interaction in social networks;
- interviews, personal meetings.
However, entrepreneurs often ignore the importance of this stage, because they prefer to rely on their intuition, being sure that only they know what this World needs. In addition, the respondents answers may not always suit the entrepreneurs, which, in turn, can undermine self-confidence and self-confidence in their project. When startupers are faced with a negative interview result, they immediately rush to reassure themselves: "What a nonsense? My idea is brilliant! What can this focus group know about it? By the way, is it worth trusting the opinion of a narrow group of people? How many people - so many opinions! When my product is released to a wide audience - everyone will recognize it as successful! ". And then when the product hits the market - what a surprise, nobody wants it!
How did it happen? After all, our startuper conducted a market analysis - there is either no analogue to its product, or there are similar products, but our startuper's product has a unique selling proposition. And he's also done a CustDev.
The problem is that he didn't take into account the outcome of the interview. He didn't respond properly to the focus group's comments. Distrust, even to a narrow community of people will be a colossal delusion. For sure, many of us read something like this very often: "According to statistics, 30% of Americans..." or "Almost half of Russians prefer...". Do you really think that 100 million Americans and 70 million Russians were actually interviewed? Of course not. These statistics are always based on a certain sample of interviewed people - 1000, 10,000, 100,000 people. And as practice shows, even the opinions of 10 people can be representative and reflect broad trends.
Before running to embody your brilliant idea, you must make sure that the product is in demand among the target audience, make sure that your vision matches the expectations of future users of your product. Underestimating the importance of this factor can be fatal to your startup.
General rules of CustDev
To conduct a successful CustDev / User Research, you must adhere to several rules:
- Do not arrange for interrogation and do not create a stressful situation in the interview. It should be a light, friendly conversation or a casual online survey;
- You can't tell and sell your own product. The purpose of communication is not to make money, but to get objective feedback from the client;
- Don't tell me how to do it "right". Listen to the position of the person who shares his opinion in an interview about his own vision;
- Provide an opportunity to reflect on past experiences. There is no point in asking people about the future, no one can evaluate it objectively and impartially;
- Ask similar questions to all respondents;
User research is important at any stage in the development of the opinion of any product. Therefore, CustDev is a derivative that should never be stopped. The world is developing faster than we imagine. Get feedback from people who are constantly interacting with what your company does. Analyzing and applying this knowledge to improve products is one of the main goals of business at any stage in the modern world.
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