Customer Discovery vs. Focus Groups

The office hours we had with Steve yesterday were extremely helpful. Perhaps most helpful though, was the differentiation he made between what he called customer discovery and focus groups. We had asked him for advice about conducting focus groups in the ensuing week. He immediately stopped us and said, “Whoa, whoa! Big, slow companies hold focus groups to show consumers their product and figure out how to market it. Is that what you are doing?” Clearly we were not, as we still have far too many guesses we need to validate. He continued, “What you guys want is to see if your assumptions on the problems your customers are feeling are true. You need to ask them open-ended questions that get them talking about what they want (and what they don’t even know they know). THEN after you have extracted all you can, you ask them ‘So would that look anything like this?’. From which, they keep talking and providing you with feedback, not on the product, but the problem they are feeling.”

This was a huge distinction that our entire team had not realized. In addition, when we showed him our balsamiq mockups, he clarified that that was plenty for a “low-fi app”. Low-fi did not equate to code written, which was another mistake we subconsciously made. With this in mind, we plan to move more swiftly and do some face-to-face customer discovery this week.


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