Testing Your Way To a Better Idea (Part One)

At the core of Centresource, we care about ideas. Ideas create products and services. They connect us to other people. They lead to changing things. When we talk about products, services, people, change, and ideas… we sometimes think about Steve Jobs. He had an uncanny knack for understanding what people would like (and thus what they’d pay for). He also knew how to improve things as technology costs decreased and market penetration increased. He embraced a philosophy of BETTER.

This is an important word for me (and the Web). The work we do is never done. It can always be improved. The same is true with an idea.

People love stories. They especially love stories they can relate to, or that they can empathize with. If you can understand what the story of your idea is, you can communicate it to a user and convert them to being a part of that story.

People

People are the reason we do what we do. Users. People use our software, buy our products, and sustain our businesses. If we lack empathy for our users, there’s little chance we’ll build something they’ll love. Furthermore, if we don’t listen to them, it’s hard to imagine our relationship improving. Lay’s Potato Chips justran a campaign where they reached out to their users, asking them to submit new ideas for flavors.

Lay's Chips Flavors

Great idea, as this stable of winners proves. These three are all viable products and their customer base told them so. Letting your users show you the way is ALWAYS a good idea, even if you get some silly suggestions, too:

Lay's Chips Joke Flavors

“Frog?” is my personal favorite.

This is still good news – users making these funny posts made a huge splash on social media, drawing more attention to the campaign. Now, I’m not sure what tools Lays used to manage this campaign but I want to walk you through a scenario of tools you might use when launching a new product.

Identifying Users

If you’re Lay’s, you’ve got a massive captive audience and advertising budget to connect with your audience. What if you’re brand new? You need ways to cheaply and successfully acquire an audience to start experimenting on. These users need to be targeted appropriately and you need to know who they are.

Begin with a persona. Who do you think you want to target? Populr, a delightful product started by Centresource founder Nick Holland, started with a wide array of targets in mind. The obvious users are there: marketing managers, PR people, etc… but they also wanted to talk to real estate agents and musicians. They took each user type and started a persona for them.

Recently I’ve been using Personapp to help identify these personas. This tool is a digital version of whiteboard exercise I’ve often facilitated. This app allows you to think through a user’s needs and behaviors, their demographics, and their goals. I often like to add psychographics, too: breaking down a user’s interests, values, attitudes and choices.

You should use this tool to create a rough outline of who you’d like to target. This is an evolving concept and your targets will change over time.

Part Two

In Part Two of this series on “Testing Your Way To a Better Idea,” I’ll dig into an overview of user acquisition and research. We’ll take these persona hypotheses and start verifying our assumptions. It’ll be fun.

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