Finding Your Customer for Feedback
Customer feedback is essential, whether you’re just entering the marketplace or looking to expand your business. But where do you find your customer to get this feedback? What if you would prefer to avoid template surveys or blanket statements? What does it really mean to “get out of the building?”
To find your customer, you have to think like them.
Let’s say you’re selling an eBook that helps people set up an Etsy store. In that case, your target customer will probably be selling items on eBay or Craigslist already, and maybe prowling around at craft stores, garage sales or consignment shops. Maybe there’s an antique mall, flea market, or outdoor festival where independent sellers are renting booths.
If you wanted to persuade them to also put their wares up for sale on Etsy, how would you strike up a conversation? You could start by asking about their product, and then transition into asking where else they sell it. If they haven’t opened an online store yet, what’s stopping them? Is business good without one? Could it be better? If they already have a website or online store, ask where they host it. What capabilities do they have? What are they missing? Are they looking for something more professional, more stylish, or perhaps less complicated? Have they already tried Etsy? How could you help them?
Give them a card that directs to a free download for your book. Briefly tell them about your credentials, and invite them to provide you with some useful feedback in exchange. Get their email address if possible, and send them a follow up thanking them for their time, along with a recap of questions to help direct their feedback once they’ve gone through your book. Did you find this book helpful? What was missing? What could I have gone into greater detail on? Where do you expect to find a book like this?
Information like that is extremely valuable, but you can only get it from your customers.
If you do get someone to sample your product…
Another example: let’s say you’ve got some new product you’ve invented. Maybe it’s a health food shake that can help people with adrenal fatigue. It’s a special blend of vitamins and nutrients, including maca root powder, designed to balance out the endocrine system. Once you have samples, it’s time to visit various health food stores, alternative medicine outlets, and busy cafés to find people who might need your product. Maybe you could even partner with these outlets to offer samples, but otherwise, just approach people and strike up conversation. What have you got to lose?
If you do hit it off with someone and they want to sample your product for a longer period of time, try setting up a quick 30 minute coffee date after they’ve finished their experience. For your interview, simply ask whatever questions you feel to be the most relevant. Perhaps they could be: How did this solution help you, if at all? What was the experience like? Would you buy this product? How much would you expect to pay for it? Would you recommend it to a friend? Why or why not? Did you see a difference in your health, and if so, when?
Of course, you could always reach out to your network for feedback if you wish. Just know that friends, family and colleagues rarely represent your target audience. If you can get a stranger to open up to you who actually has the problem you’re trying to solve, that’s infinitely more valuable.
If you can’t find them in person, browse the interwebs for people complaining about the problem you hope to solve.
Build up a list of keywords that people might use to find you, then get to work searching through DuckDuckGo, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest or even Quora for anyone and everyone using those keywords, hashtags or language. Chances are that for every problem that exists in the world, or at least for every question, there is a forum, a Twitter thread, a Facebook group, a Reddit board, or hashtag for it. You just need to find it. And once you do, strike up a conversation, take notes on what people are complaining about, and offer free advice or solutions. Once you build a relationship with your newly found tribe, you can offer your product as an even greater solution to their problem.
Get referrals whenever possible.
For every prospect you meet, see if they can connect you to more. Ask who they think might love this product too. Is there another Facebook Group that your product might mesh well with? If you speak with one person, ask them to connect you to another, then repeat. If you continue this process, you can expand your own awareness of who your product might best serve, as well as make valuable connections with unexpected networks. All of this will help you fine-tune your product and marketing message so that when the time comes you can cross the chasm into mass market success.
When in doubt, revisit your traction channels.
Are there any relevant events or industry meetups in your area? Incubators? Trade shows? Where are similar products already available for sale? Is your product purely digital, or are you selling it physically at a store, booth, or other event? Where can people purchase this thing, and why would they go there in the first place? Where does your customer expect you to be?
Your future customers are out there. It’s your turn to make a move.