If you’ve read about the Product Death Cycle – a dire consequence of letting user feedback run you ragged – you may feel that asking prospective customers to guide your product development and marketing efforts is like waltzing on a pirate ship’s plank: One wrong step and you’re sunk. Yet, even though there are a myriad of missteps possible, customer development can save you from even more by giving you the precise information you need to find product/market fit.
In The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step by Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf, their introduction to customer discovery begins with a list of things NOT to do – which also neatly describes five common pitfalls to which founders attempting customer development often fall victim:
“It’s instructive to enumerate all things you are not going to do:
- Understand the needs and wants of all customers
- Make a list of all the features customers want before they buy your product
- Hand Product Development a features list of the sum of all customer requests
- Hand Product Development a detailed marketing-requirements document
- Run focus groups and test customers’ reactions to your product to see if they will buy”
The “Product Death Cycle” begins with just such a recipe. This is when well-intentioned entrepreneurs gather as much qualitative data as they can from all potential customers and act on all the feedback.
All is where the danger happens. And it’s all too easy to fall into it – which is why these 5 worksheets from The Startup Owner’s Manual* come in so very handy.
*Note: We have no affiliation with this book – we just think it’s incredibly informative and hope you do too!