Skip to main content

Validating Your Product or Service Idea

Lesson 9 of 24

Method 1: Surveys & the Art of Asking

 

Validating Your Product or Service Idea

Lesson 9 of 24

Method 1: Surveys & the Art of Asking

 

Lesson Info

Method 1: Surveys & the Art of Asking

Now we're gonna move into more of the how of all of this and we're moving into examples of this survey that we've been building up to. So I like to call it the Problem Finder Survey because that's what it is and it's a simple name but getting into it here, you have an idea. Do people have the problem? So I wanna zoom out a little bit and just lay the land for the rest of the course so you see where we're going because this is important. So we're going to do the Problem Finder Survey and we're gonna show examples of that for the lawn mowing guy and for the organizational lady and then we're going to come up with the first version of that product. Then we're going to come up with the landing page. So some website people can go to to hear about this thing and see if we can get them to give us their email and then, hopefully we get the email. That means that people are interested and then, we try and give them an offer, hopefully, so they're going to pay us money. That is the goal as we're...

looking at this in the like 30,000th view of validation. So I wanna tell you a story from my business. Back to that UX portfolio thing that I said a year ago, this week I was working on this idea and I wanna show you some of the numbers. So as you heard, my inbox was flooding literally with people begging me to help them. Sometimes I would say yes, sometimes I would just say no because there were so many of them but after doing it over and over, I just thought to myself, okay, the product person, the business person in here, in you, is ignoring a big green flag right now that's saying, "People have a problem, they're asking you about it "so maybe you should do something. "Just back to your skills assessment, "think of the things that people are asking you about." In my case, it was helping them with their portfolios. So my validation looked like this; it was three weeks and on June 26, I went back and sent a survey out to people. I was lucky because I had an existing kind of community I had been growing but don't worry if you don't have a community, I'm gonna tell you how to go and find people to take your survey. So I did this survey and then 400 people filled out this survey and it was a mix of open-ended questions and I think a couple of like multiple-choice or something. So 400 people filled it out and I forget how many I sent it to but it was a huge response rate. And it was paragraphs, I'm talking like four paragraphs long. I was shocked like I had to spend a lot of evenings reading through all their answers and I thought to myself, this is a clear indicator that people have a problem. So immediately, I put up a landing page and in my case, I kind of did two steps at once here. I already had their email addresses because they put it on this survey and I wanted to act fast. So I said, "Okay, I'm gonna do a workshop "that will be 90 minutes or something. "It's happening on this day. "Here's what you're gonna get and it's gonna cost," I think it was $39 but we'll see on the next slide. So I did that and registration was opened and 85 people purchased this thing and I had to shut the registration down because I didn't want any more people because it would have been unmanageable. I couldn't have given them a good experience if there was like 300 people in this first version. And then I taught the first class and I think within two weeks, this girl got hired. So I thought, oh my gosh, we must be onto something. But by the numbers, 400 people answered that survey. 85 people purchased at $39, so 3,315 in revenue but who cares about that? The cool thing is that I had 68 people on a waiting list so that if the results of that first workshop were good, launch and learn, launch and learn, we would launch again to those people and raise the price a little bit and that's been happening and now I have this online course about that but that's how it all started and it only took three weeks to go from idea to having the first workshop. So if you think this isn't manageable or if you think this doesn't apply to your business because it's not some online thing, it's doable. It might not be three weeks but just think about that if you ever get stuck and think, okay, it doesn't have to be three weeks to just identify the product I wanna do. That's why I said don't take three weeks or three months to do your skills assessment. Do that in three hours or three days. So the goal of this problem finder survey that I used as a part of that process, it's really understand people's current experience with the topic or industry, whatever it is, running, standing desks, cooking, organization, travel, whatever it is. We wanna figure out what are people's current experience. So what questions do we ask people? We're gonna get to the exact questions that you should ask people but the three categories of questions are really the following. We wanna focus on questions that are going to lead us to goals which means what is the specific outcome people want to achieve? Then we wanna ask questions that are related to the problem. So what is the obstacle, what is stopping people from getting to that goal? And then we want to try and focus on questions that give us a little insight about people's values. So why is it important for them to get to that goal. I want to have an organized office or closet because I want to get healthy, because, like what is their why behind that goal? So let's go back to Mike, our new friend Mike for the class and Mike wants to make the app that's going to help people get on demand lawn mowing and snow removal. So who cares about the snow removal? Let's keep it simple and focus on the lawn mowing aspect right now. So Mike's survey may look something like this. And again, remember I said we have these three types of questions we're asking; we're asking goal questions, problem questions and value questions. So first of all, I'm interested in hiring someone to mow my lawn because... And on the survey, these would not be here. This is more for our purposes here but these are the exact questions that I would be putting into my survey and we'll get into survey tools in a few minutes but I'm interested in hiring someone to mow my lawn because... And then just leave it at that and see what people write and you have to imagine this almost like you're having a conversation. If you were sitting down for coffee with these people, this is kind of the conversation that you would have and we'll get into some more tips about surveys and why we're asking these questions, phrased this way. So that's going to tell us their goal. Then my biggest pain when it comes to mowing my lawn and doing lawn maintenance... Well, that's gonna tell us their problem and they might just write one thing or they might write 1000 words, we have no idea but that is gonna tell us the problem. I wanna fix this pain because... Well, that's gonna tell us the underlying. It's like trying to go beyond the symptom and get to that root problem. Then the most important goal I have for my lawn is... Again, it's another goal question. Now you might be thinking why are we asking the same question many times? And there's a couple of reasons for that; first of all, the first time you ask it, people may give the knee-jerk answer that's at the top of their head but now that you've warmed them up and now they're thinking about their lawn and in their head they're thinking to the past three months when they have like gone to mow the lawn and the lawn mower is broken or it's out of gas or their spouse was like mad at them for not mowing the lawn. Whatever those underlying things were, that's why we're asking more goal questions because we want to get to the root problem, not just the symptom. So most important goal I have for my lawn is, whatever it is. This goal is important to me because... Again, could seem repetitive but you'll be surprised to what people write. And then my top three concerns or problems when it comes to keeping my lawn in good shape or mowing my lawn, however you wanna phrase it, and this one's really cool because people, at least in my experience, literally write out, okay, one, two, three, and the answers that they give you are phenomenal and we'll see some examples of that but this would be related to our lawn guy, Mike but we're gonna switch gears and look at that Julie with her planner idea even though we've now convinced her she's not making a planner. She is going to offer a service business where she's going to offer her organizational expertise to people to try and get them organized in whatever area of their life or business that is. So she wants to create the planner but we've done a good job and we've convinced her not to. So what does Julie's look like? It's pretty similar but I wanted to include this example as well. So I'm interested in hiring an organizational expert because... And I left this really wide because as I said earlier, maybe Julie doesn't know who she wants to specialize with. Maybe she hasn't decided I'm just focusing on entrepreneurs, I'm just focusing on domestic type stuff. So I'm interested in hiring an organizational expert because, and then they'll tell us their goal. My biggest pain when it comes to staying organized in my business in life is... Well, let's find out. I wanna fix this pain, people are gonna tell us all the reasons, the underlying reasons why they need the organizational help because they need their closet organized because they realized they waste 20 minutes every morning trying to figure out what to wear and then they get to work and they're stressed or they're late and they're in a bad mood all day and their co-workers hate them. So that is the type of responses you'll get though when you ask these questions this way. So then the most important goal I have for getting organized is... Goal is important to me. You can see some of these questions are just redundant. It's not specific to the actual topic but just kind of in there regardless of what your product is. And then my top three concerns or problems when it comes to creating a system for organizing my business is... So when you ask the questions like this, you really get awesome answers, especially, did you notice that these are asked in kind of first-person? It's not like, "Why do you want to hire "an organizational expert?" It's, "I'm interested in hiring an organizational expert." So why do we ask these questions in first person? The reason is that we get the best understanding when we can have people tell us these stories from their lives and when you can get them to tell you the stories of their lives, their current situation. That's when we get the best insight about why do they have this goal? Why are they not able to achieve this goal? Because you'll see if we phrase it differently, makes people think too hard, I think. So answering the first person or asking in first person, helps us draw out these stories so look with this example. What do you think is the hardest thing about taking care of your lawn? Like it sounds formal. It almost is going to make people think too hard, I feel like, whereas if you say in example two, "My biggest problem with taking care of my lawn is..." It's almost eliciting more of a knee-jerk reaction or you could, sometimes, in person, I say, "Tell me about the last time you like mowed your lawn. "How did that go?" Or when it comes to online shopping, I say to people, "Tell me about the last thing you bought online. "How did that go?" It's great if I do research for e-commerce because people will say, "Oh well, I was shopping "for a vacuum," and then next you know 10 minutes have gone by and you're hearing every detail of how they shopped for the vacuum. So when you frame it as like, tell me a story, keep it first-person and not so stuffy, so hopefully you can see the difference between these two but the power of first-person, I think, helps us get to people telling us those stories much, much, much faster. And it also is cool because when you ask, "What is the biggest problem with your lawn?" It almost can trigger hypotheticals, whereas if you're asking people in first person, it's encouraging them to recount the exact thing that happened. The last time I mowed my lawn, the last time I bought the vacuum online, the last time I booked a hotel, this happened. And you're hearing these actual events versus these, maybe I think they're speculative things that people might come up with to type into a survey. So when you ask these questions in the first person and the questions in the survey you get gold and I wanna go through some of the answers that Mike might have got for his lawn mowing survey. So I wanna hire someone to mow my lawn because: it's a time consuming chore. Okay, we probably could have predicted that but it's good to know and you can imagine if we had responses from 100 people, there'd be a lot more goals than that but goal. He wants to hire someone to mow the lawn because it's a time consuming chore. My biggest pain when it comes to mowing the lawn and lawn maintenance is: finding the time to mow it because it grows unpredictably. Interesting. I would think about the time but maybe I was not thinking about oh, some people's lawns grow faster, slower, I don't have a lawn, I don't know. But next question; I wanna fix this problem because I don't want to spend my weekends doing so many chores. This seems like the one thing that someone else could do so I could more have family time. Now we're getting somewhere, we're starting to peel back the layers of this person and it's not just about mowing the lawn. It's about mowing the lawn so that, mowing the lawn because, it's the side-effect. They're like outcome after the actual lawn is mowed. What else is happening there? Next, my top three problems or concerns are: so finding someone who won't flake. I guess that's a problem, where we have people say they're gonna mow the lawn and then they don't show up. So simple way to pay, maybe some people want cash you don't wanna give them cash so it's important for him to be able to pay simply and then number three; having it done during the week so the kids can actually play on the lawn. That's a problem because if the lawn's mowed on the weekend, I don't know maybe you don't want your people, kids on the lawn after its mowed, it's gonna mess it up. Like I said, I don't have a lawn but these are his problems. So top three problems there. But when you look at all those individual problems, you start to peel back the layers and then the cool thing is a lot of people freak out when they think about analyzing survey results but I find when you phrase it this way, it makes the reviewing of the answers be a lot, I think more interesting because it's like you're reading little vignettes or stories from everyone. So now we get a full complete picture. There's only the four questions here but yours would have seven probably just for the sake of time here. So I wanna hire someone to mow my lawn because it's a time-consuming chore. My biggest pain when it comes to mowing the lawn and maintenance is finding time to mow it because it grows so unpredictably. I wanna fix this because, I don't wanna spend my weekends doing all the chores and it seems like something I could outsource, like of all the things, seems pretty basic. Then the problems, like we just said, people who won't flake, easily paying for it and then having the lawn awesome for the weekend so your kids can use it or you can have a barbecue or whatever and not saying, "Don't go on the lawn, "we just mowed it." So that's an example of how when you ask these first person questions you get to peel back the layers and you get to know a little bit more about the why and the motivation behind people's goals and what is stopping them. Like I said, we get to see that whole entire picture and we get to be able to spot the answers and the insights a lot more quickly because you can imagine how it kind of helps you see like apples to apples. So if you have 50 or 100 responses, scanning through those is going to be a lot, a lot easier. And then really simple tools to use to do your surveys; I've used all of these. They're all great, it's really just a matter of maybe you already have an account on this, some are more expensive than others. So do what works for you but they're all very reliable. Google Forms is free and the other ones are reasonable but I wanted to leave you with some best practices for surveys because open-ended questions, I think people really freak out and think it's going to elicit hundreds of words in the answers and yes, it could but you can see the value you get, you wouldn't get that if you said, you know, "Why do you want to mow your lawn or have your lawn mowed?" And you give them a pre-made list because I guarantee, there will be reasons that you could not have guessed and you won't get those unless you ask these open-ended questions. Another really important tip is to show the progress bar so on the survey, I don't know if you've ever noticed this but sometimes there is a bar at the top, 50% done or page one of 70 which are the ones I don't fill out but putting that, it's like giving people a little bit of comfort to know what they're getting themselves into so I think it's helpful to do that. So collect their email and what I like to do is I like to put it last and here's why, because if you put it first, some people are going to come to that survey and they're going to think like: oh, I'm not giving them my email, they're going to spam me. So I ask all the questions first and then at the end, I ask for the email and I make it optional if I'm feeling really nice. Sometimes I'll make it required or the client wants it to be required but I would encourage you to make it optional and don't just say, "Give me your email." Make it friendly and say, "Hey, I'd like to get your email "so that if I have follow-up questions, "I can contact you," or something along those lines so that people don't feel like you're just trying to grab their email to then sell them something later. So tell them why you want the email and just remember, don't ask people what they want, don't say, "Would you like a running app that does this, or, "Do you want a lawn mowing thing?" Because those answers are not really going to help. Now this is a little different if you were doing research for a product that's already out there but we're not talking about that today. So don't ask people what they want. Ask the open-ended questions that are gonna lead us to the goals, the problems and their values and then, always, no matter what, always have a question at the very end that says, "Have anything else you'd like to share?" Or however you wanna phrase it and here's why, because once you go through and have someone answer all those questions, they're kind of like warmed up, they're invested and their mind is now thinking about the lawn, about their messy closet or whatever the topic is and chances are, you are going to get a handful of people that leave you like the best feedback you could have never dreamed was possible, will come out of that question. It happened to me so many times, I highly recommend it. It's kind of crazy not to ask that question and it's optional so you're not shoving it down anyone's throat or anything like that.

Class Description

You have an idea...now what? Most entrepreneurs fail because they build the wrong product. How does this happen? It’s because we race to the “build” phase and focus all our energy on the product. But there’s a way more important “p” word that always trumps your product...PEOPLE.


If you truly want to create an awesome product, you have to understand the people your product will serve. The best competitive advantage you can have is to understand your people, your audience, your potential customers better than everyone else. Your audience will guide you to the exact product you should create and how you should market it. This class will show you how to tap into that knowledge.

In this class, you will:

  • Learn how to use research to gather the information you need to build an effective product or service.
  • Review well-known case studies and best-practices in product design.
  • Walk through a simple step-by-step demo for building a landing page using Instapage.
  • Learn the basics of email lists and automation using ConvertKit.

Reviews

Jacki
 

The immensely valuable information in these videos teach exactly how to validate, promote and sell product to your target audience. This course is a few years of marketing school nicely wrapped in the perfect course bundle for every type of business from entrepreneur to enterprise. I have a decade of marketing experience and learned new tricks to immediately use. Wantpraneurs will gain all the knowledge needed to get started with their new business idea in clear, do-able steps. If you are in dev, marketing, UX or business, or want to be, I strongly suggest this class to you.

Amie Kelson
 

I have taken several CreativeLive courses on how to start a business. This one has some of the best content and practical information on the "what" AND the "how" of validating your products. I highly recommend. The one thing I wish she would have gone into more depth on is how to find people for market research. She covers where to find them, but not enough detail about how to engage them. Even with that missing I would still highly recommend.

Elizabeth Arostegui
 

The course is really complete and interesting. She shared a lot of useful tools and techniques that can be applied.