Customer Development
Even a small company can dominate the market if it innovates. However, innovation has to be right. Customers have some problems. Your product/service is the solution. What if it is a small problem and they don't need your innovative solution.

Product marketing begins even before the product enters the market. Money comes when customers start purchasing the product. For this, you need to work on customer development. Get customer feedback right from the beginning. It is important to validate the idea to make sure that customers come running. 

Customer Development

If you are not familiar with the term customer development, this post is going to help you. It is a framework that discovers and validates that there is a market for your product. Your product has features that will address customers’ needs. Customer development has the following four steps: 
  • Customer discovery
  • Customer validation
  • Company creation
  • Building the company
Customer development identifies and finds customers and communicates with them to validate your business assumptions. These assumptions are about the problem, product and your customers’ persona. The selection of a customer development approach depends on your business. All methods share some basic ideas. Write down your assumptions about customers’ needs, your ideas and ROI expectations. 

Where to Find Customers

Now you have a list of assumptions. Find your customers. Sooner is better. After identifying your potential customers, create buyer personas and write relevant content for product marketing. Your website and social media profiles don't have traffic.

Take the following steps:

Join Social Network

This is where you will start a conversation with people. You can directly ask people if they are interested in a conversation. Look for people having relevant blogs and talk. Speak to people on Facebook and LinkedIn and you will find a few people who can be your ideal customer. 

Join Local Meetups

Now you have a few people to talk to, take time to develop your idea. Join local meetups with relevant people. Talk to attendees.

Go Online

Even when you don't have a product with the required features and functionalities, you can set up a website and start product marketing on social media and other platforms. If you are the CEO, you should send the first few signup emails. 

Reach Your Customers

Now you know that you need to spend time on online platforms and attend local meetups, it’s time to approach your potential ideal customers. Get input. There are different methods to reach out to them. Phone calls and chats are high-yielding methods.

Phone Calls/Chats

Not everyone will respond to your questions. Try to get responses from around 15 to 20 people. Ask initial questions and document all their responses. 

Start with Introduction

Start the conversation with a brief introduction. Referrals can be more fruitful. You can encourage a friend or a mutual acquaintance to rope in a few people who can be your potential customers. They may show more interest in your questions. You can ask more questions. Make your objectives clear. Show that you want to get real feedback. You are not trying to sell a product. End your conversation with the following questions: 
  • Do you know people with the same needs? Are they interested in sharing their experiences? 

Find the Right Question

After finding the right people, find the right questions. You need to find answers to the following questions before determining the set of questions to be asked from potential customers:
  • What is your marketing approach?
  • What are your marketing tools?
  • How can you improve your marketing tools and approach?

To find the right question, you need to dig deep into the problem. Understand the problem before you attempt to solve it. Ask questions like: 
  • How does the problem affect you?
  • Have you tried to solve the problem?
  • How you tried a solution?
They may tell you about other solutions they have tried. These solutions are offered by your competitors. Once you are done with customer development, start building your product and also start creating a new product launch strategy