Category: Customer Value

“Giving people what they want isn’t always what they want.” – Seth Godin

I want the “Save” button to work in my version of MS Word for Mac.  It’s irritating.  But getting the fix won’t change my opinion of the product one way or the other.  It just eliminates an aggravation.  What I really want is a new word processor experience but I don’t know what that is.  So I am left with comparing what I think I want to my existing experience with features and functions familiar to me.  I have limited my thinking to making the status quo incrementally better.

Napster changed the way people listen to music.  They were truly disruptive.  For good or bad things changed forever.  Yesterday, I asked a group of college students “who pays for music?”  One hand raised.  People want free music but do they really want the kind of music you can get for free?  We will find out soon enough.

Alex Osterwalder has a new book out called, “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want “.  In it, he talks about observing how your customers interact with your product, not just giving it to them and taking credit for a new customer.  A product that gets put on the shelf is one nobody tells their friends about.

Free songs that sound like every other song and get listened to once on a streaming service will very likely not be what we call music in the future.  Is that what we want?  Really?


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson



Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

Listen to your customers.  They will tell you what they like and don’t like.  Sometimes you will be tempted to tell them they are wrong.  They may very well be but listen to them anyway.  You will most certainly learn something.  If it’s a bad comment, you may have a new hypothesis to test with other customers and you may find an opportunity for a new feature or product.

The best customers are those who care enough to interact with the product and the company that makes it.  Listening to them either dote or rant provides that opportunity.

By the way, don’t listen to the media critics.  They say they represent the customers but they really want to see you fail.  Stick with the customers.


BloggingGazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Teams that build continuous customer discovery into their DNA will become smarter than their investors, and build more successful companies.” – Steve Blank

Those that seem to stay ahead of the curve are like wizards with magical powers.  Successfully predicting what is next is extolled as genius and we all want some of that.

Much of the time though, great prognosticators are keen observers of their chosen environment.  They collect data on what’s going on around them and these data may present them with a few distinct options.  So they pick one.  It either works or it doesn’t – based on how the data react.  If it doesn’t they shift quickly to the next option.  Rinse and repeat.

In startups, this IS the customer discovery process.  It’s not magic.  Learning how to do it once can launch a good company but long term success goes to those who figure out how to hardwire customer discovery into a continuous, almost unconscious process.

You should always measure the number of customer conversations you have over time and capture the information in some way.  After a while it will seem like you just know things.  Then resources will find you.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“To win in a market with a new product or service, you have to go after a market that has significant market pain, a pervasive problem, and a willingness to pay for a fix.” – Rob Adams

This one phrase sums up the customer discovery process.  Many startups begin life as the founder’s passion for making a change.  Creating a new gadget to solve a specific problem is the purview of the inventor.  Inventors are wired to iterate and redesign until they are happy with their invention.  This often uses up their resources and capital until there’s not much money left to start the company.

If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, then you need to determine if your cool new gadget idea is something people want and will pay money to acquire.  Do this as early as possible so your design is informed by what the market wants and not what you think they want.

 Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship…the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” – Peter Drucker

Wealth is an outcome, not a mission.  It is a result of the creation of value.  Money is one way to measure value but there are others.

The creation of value consumes resources.  Money is a resource but there are others.

Innovation creates value that did not exist before, which is a powerful tool of the entrepreneur.  But equally powerful, and necessary, is the ability of the entrepreneur to gather the necessary resources to bring that value into being.  These include money, people, partnerships, advisors, investors and early customers.  We call these validations.

If you measure anything at all, measure your validations.  They are the leading indicator for the Startup.  They lead to success in the business.


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window” – Steve Wozniak

This is a great quote where you get to decide what it means.  It came from Guy Kawasaki’s book “Reality Check” and I think it’s the “anti-technology” technology manifesto…

For me it’s about making sure the technology serves a purpose other than itself.  In other words, people buy technology to solve problems and to achieve their goals.  Your product development should take this into account, making sure you consider how the customer will “live with it” after the sale.

We’re talking about more than a spreadsheet exercise here.  This gets into the “delight” zone of customer value.

Know this, if your app or your device does not solve a problem with minimal effort and a sweet experience, it’s always possible it gets thrown out a window…


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“You need to allocate 60 days effort before you start building your product and 10% of your budget to get the Market Validation work done.” – Rob Adams

This is bold advice from “If You Build It Will They Come?”  and it flows in parallel with the customer discovery process.  Rob Adams just put some numbers on it.

Understanding your value proposition and market is important.  So important that Adams recommends two full months of effort to nail it down.  Allocating budget means get out of the office and talk to people.  You can’t Google your way through customer discovery.  Go to trade shows.  Talk to industry experts and leaders in your market segments.  You may consider buying a market research study from one of the leading research firms.  They aren’t cheap.

Doing this before you develop the product helps reduce the risk that you make something no one wants to buy.

It’s cheap insurance.

Read “If You Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“The capitalist system is brutal; it takes no prisoners… ” – Rob Adams

“…and has no regard for how much energy you have invested in your business.”

Inventors often face this issue.  They spend years and much of their own fortune designing the perfect product and they spend thousands on patent costs, only to be frustrated when they can’t raise funding or find out how little they can get for licensing their idea.

That’s because all this activity does not equate to value in the business world, nor does it guarantee that customers will buy the product.  The thing that builds value is whether the invention solves a problem for a lot people at a price they are willing to pay.

Dr. Adams will tell you to spend the first 60 days and at least 10% of your budget interviewing customers to see if your idea addresses a real problem in a market.  That way, the money you spend on development and intellectual property isn;t wasted on a hobby.

Definitely read “If Yo Build It, Will They Come?” by Rob Adams


Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson

“You Need to Give Away The Recipe For Your Secret Sauce” – Jay Baer

Check out Jay Baer’s article:

There is a link to a video from the head chef at McDonalds who shows you how to make a Big Mac at home… including the special sauce.

The thing is, publishing the recipe for the special sauce did not stop people from going to McDonalds by the millions.  That’s because McDonalds offers something in addition to the Big Mac that cannot be replicated.

Protecting your IP is important but it’s not a business model.

Blogging Gazelle is published daily by Shawn Carson