Customer development is the process of ‘getting out of the building’ to talk to potential customers. Steve Blank is credited as the original thought leader on this topic.
In our ‘Test a Business Idea program’, we ask participants to get out of the building to test their business idea with potential customers. This determines if their business idea solves a want, need or problem and if their solution is a valuable offering.
We ask them to do this BEFORE they build their ideal product.
In the great book by Cindy Alvarez, Lean Customer Development, she address the most popular question that comes up in the customer development process – Yes, she answers the question with a question – like any great mentor should do!
Here is the popular question that a participant would ask:
How can I find customers BEFORE I’ve even built a product?
How were you planning on finding customers AFTER you built a product?
This question forces you to think about how you plan on finding your future customers. If you can figure this out before you build your product you can meet with and interview them and discover the answer to two important questions:
- Do these future customers actually have the problem, need or want you think they have?
- Does your proposed solution give these customers enough value that they would pay you for it?
If the answer is no to either of these questions, maybe you shouldn’t build your product or business after all.
Related article – Customer Segmentation and Development
If you’d like to learn more about the low cost process of customer discovery and development, please check this out.