Want to build a better product? Listen to your customers!

Anyone familiar with the teachings of Steve Blank and Eric Ries will know the importance given to “Getting out of the building” and talking to your target market, the people you expect to purchase, use and fall in love with the thing you are building.  Ideally, you do this very early in the development process, soon after conceptualizing what it is you want to do.  The goal being to quickly validate the importance of the particular problem you want to solve, and whether or not your solution connects with the market.  Much better to learn those lessons early, than to have spent countless amounts of time, energy and resources building something no one actually wants.

I wish I could say we took this advice to heart.  We certainly tried, but thinking back on how this project has progressed, and the many hurdles we have overcome, both technical and managerial, there are many things we could have done better, including getting input from more users, earlier in the development process.

Thankfully, now that we have a functional MVP, getting feedback from our target market – gardeners & plant lovers, has become much easier.  Unfortunately, now that the MVP has been built, much of the feedback will not be utilized until the first major update of the app, something we plan to do after it launches this Spring.  Whether or not we get to release that update will depend in large part on how the app is received by the market.  We definitely could have increased our chances of success by “Getting out of the building” early and often.

These are the tactics we used to validate our idea before having an MVP

  • Built a user survey in Google docs and advertised on Reddit in relevant subreddits
  • Built a landing page with a lead capture form and drove some paid Google traffic toward it to see how many people were interested in the idea.
  • Attended garden industry events and talked to potential users – gardeners with smart phones
  • Connected with gardening industry professionals through Linkedin Groups
  • Reached out to prominent bloggers in the gardening space to get their input

Now that we have an MVP of the App built, and it can be distributed remotely using Testflightapp (part of iTunes Connect), these are some of the tactics we are using to connect with users for our private Beta.

  • Putting ads in Kijiji (yeah, and they are free)
  • Putting up flyers in places tech savvy plant lovers are known to frequent
  • Social Media – Tweeting, Blogging, Listening

Right now the focus is connecting with passionate “gardeners” and plant lovers that are interested in trying out the app and providing feedback, the focus will soon change to getting users once the app is released.  Got ideas for tactics we should try to accomplish either of these goals? Would love to hear about them in the comments.

Matt

Download the Plantola iPhone app

 

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