1. Dude, you totally read my mind 😉
    Seriously, I’ve had several launches that did OK, and I’m working on one right now, so this message is timely. And I get how we can get lost in the project and completely forget the customer, even if we started out focused on the customer. Happened to us more than once, easy to do.
    My question is about targeting: How do you know (or how does anyone know, for that matter) if those reviewers, commenters, etc reflect your customer?
    Maybe I’m over-complicating this?
    Thanks for a solid post!

    • Hi Craig,

      Great question. You aren’t necessarily over-complicating things, because there are levels to this sort of endeavor.

      You’re first searching for patterns/trends that confirm there’s an interest in or need for your product or subject.

      And that could be called the first “level,” and where reviews, comments and forum comments do come into play.

      For most products, in an “agile marketing” economy (HT Brian Clark), that’s enough to take the leap and see if something flies.

      And for products that are purely digital, don’t require lots of investment up front, this approach might be enough.

      For those folks who want to really connect at a deeper level with actual representatives of their audience, you would be talking with people directly to discover if your flavor of product/subject matter is appealing to them. That’s where the surveys come into play.

      Hope that helps clarify?
      Thanks for reading.

        • If I can figure out a way to simplify the topic enough to make it usable to the most readers, I certainly will.

          Thanks for your interest, Craig!

          • Ahhh – I’m having a faint recollection of Google surveying using adwords as part of your original coaching package way back when, is this what you’re referring to?

          • Craig,
            You recall correctly – we do most of our surveys after deep Google Adwords analysis, and survey the folks who click on the targeted ads we create.
            And, the difficulty in writing about this process is it does require a certain level of understanding of search engine advertising and how to frame questions to get decent responses.

  2. Hey Keith…it’s good to see your writing in my inbox again. In a small devil’s advocate way, I’m reminded of the TV show “House.” The main character who is a doctor frequently points out, “patients lie.” So do those potential clients in forums and definitely in Amazon reviews. People *say* they want a lot of things they actually won’t pay cold hard cash to acquire. Or they’ll only pay $20 for a book on the topic (or .99 for the Kindle version).

    So what you think you’ve found in the customer’s mind may not be accurate or worse may be misleading. If that’s the case, you have to do what Dr. House does: make a diagnosis based on more than just what people say. You need to take into account what you see and feel as well.

    • Susan!

      Great to hear from you – and with “House,” you’ve really found the perfect analogy for the whole question/answer dynamic of surveying.

      Indeed people lie, or rather, are sometimes a bit disconnected from what they want and what they’d actually pull out their wallets for.

      Your thoughts bring up a few of my own – see what you think:

      1. The above is one reason I get so much value out of the (usually) unprompted consumer feedback you’ll find in book reviews, forums and sometimes, comments. If it’s untainted by someone’s poorly framed question, sometimes one can really get inside the mindset of a frustrated (or happy) consumer . . .

      2. That human tendency you mention is yet another reason to be careful about how one frames survey questions in the first place. We *try* to ask survey questions that lead to honest feedback, which leads to . . .

      3. As you point out with your “House” analogy, interpreting the answers *always* requires an intuitive diagnosis based on what the questioner sees and feels.

      4. And finally, as much as I enjoy the click-thru I get from titles like “how to read your customer’s mind,” to some readers I suppose, this implies there are ways to “guarantee” a product will succeed. Don’t we wish! After all the analysis is done, launching a new product still – always – requires a leap of faith. It’s still trial and error – we just hope we’re a *wee bit* closer with the data . . .

      Thanks, Susan!

  3. Hey Keith,
    I believe it was Kilstein who advocated checking out the best-sellers on Amazon to verify a product’s viability. I found that approach woefully inadequate – so it’s nice to read that you add a deeper level to that.
    Question: You refer to a survey, can you tell me more about what that entails? Is that something we can do on our own, or does it require some expertise?

    • Mark,

      Yes, Harlan was one of those who advocated doing product intelligence through Amazon. Thanks for sharing your experience with that.

      And yes, someone could conceivably run surveys on their own.

      In order to perform the kinds of surveys we use, one would need a degree of expertise in:

      1. Keyword research: Researching search engine search trends and uncovering the most likely patterns and trends that support your project

      2. Writing Google Ads: Creating at least two ads and “split testing” them against each other until you find a clear winner (number of people clicking thru). These are all about the success of the headline.

      3. Creating short surveys: Once you’ve defined your “stream” of responders, send them to a survey page with a few carefully-crafted questions designed to uncover what’s missing for them (so you can deliver on those pressing needs.)

      4. Create a system for interpreting the responses and formulating a strategy from that — and as Susan mentioned earlier, there is a certain level of intuitive “art” to this whole process.

      Does that help frame it for you?
      Thanks for reading, Mark.

      • Yes, it does, thanks Keith.

        Sounds intriguing. I’ll contact you to ask if this approach could be a fit for one or more of our projects.

        Thanks again!

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