Customer development and Lean Startup techniques have been so loudly touted by, well, startups that many people in non-startup or non-technology companies think these tools don’t apply to them.
“The rules are different when you’re talking to large enterprise customers,” they say. “This doesn’t work when you’re dealing with customers who are already using your products and have certain expectations,” they say.
Yes and no. Yes, the techniques I write about will work on your customers. No, you can’t blindly apply them in the same way to all types of customers.
While I’ve worked in technology startups throughout my career, I’ve actually spent much of that time working with large, traditional, non-technology corporations. I’ve launched a few new products to new audiences—but I’ve also managed product redesigns and new features while working with outspoken and change-fearing existing customers.
There are some pretty big differences between these segments: consumers, non-technology SMBs, technology startups, large enterprise customers, and existing customers.
I’ll talk about the first three customer segments first.
“Cold contact” methods are much less effective. Consumers tend to be more suspicious that you’re trying to sell them something or scam them; they can also be fearful that a cold email means their privacy has been violated somehow.
More likely to be polite than honest. Talking to a person in a consumer context ...