How to Test a Product with New Customers
When you’re testing a product with new customers, you want to start simple and build momentum.
Starting Simple and Focused
I was speaking with an entrepreneur the other day about how to test their product with new customers and start scaling up their business. One of the questions that came up was do I start with the easy customers or start with the hard customers. Obviously there are pros and cons of each.
Starting with easiest customers
When you start with the easiest customers, the product usually does not require as much complexity. There is a clearly available use case that is often good enough to test, learn, iterate, and build upon. The bar is often lower to deliver value and you can quickly build some momentum and prove out value.
Starting with the hardest customers
When you start with the hardest customers, the product usually requires more perfection, features, and use cases. These customers have a higher bar for what is good enough and you often learn many edge cases to solve for. While it may take longer to please these customers, if you can deliver for them you can also deliver to the easier customers.
How I might think about it
There is no perfect answer and you can be successful either way if you listen and learn. However, I generally prefer starting with the easiest customers first. It is a more clear use case and value prop, you can test and refine quicker, and you avoid building too much for a complex customer that is an anomaly and not representative of your broader target market. If you know the easiest customers are a large enough part of your target market, start there. Keep the go-to-market and product as simple as possible to prove out your hypotheses, delight customers, and build momentum that gives you the right to move on to the next customer segment/value proposition.
Think through which segment is truly representative of your target customer, the time/speed to execute, and the focus and complexity required. It’s often more prudent to tackle low hanging fruits first to build momentum before getting bogged down in a more complex situation.