Customer Feedback · Surveys

Best resources / places for Customer Development activities?

Jeff Axup Sr. Manager, Palo Alto UX Design Research Group at Bosch

October 10th, 2013

I'm currently trying to get opinions / advice on a smart-jewelry product from female college students. However, I've found that campus women's groups don't reply to their email and that I don't have a lot of women that age in my social network currently.
So I'm wondering what tools/resources/methods you are all using to develop your product concepts with your target markets?
Here's is what I have found so far:

  1. - Is actually pretty awesome. They can source respondents of most demographics for you. You can even imbed URLs so that respondents can review other things on the web for you. My surveys have been $120-$130 for between 50-100 respondents. But this only gives you surveys as a methodology. Also their respondent pool gets rewarded by contributions to charities in their name, which is interesting. If you don't want all their fancy analysis tools (which you can do by hand) you can just use their free account and then pay for respondents from it.
  2. - also finds respondents for you. Their interface is a bit more complex and they seem to charge per-question. They also offer screening questions to help weed out non-relevant demographics, but it has been prohibitively expensive/complex for me to use so far.
  3. Google Surveys. They use a different method where they ask one or two questions to large groups to enable access to web content (like ads). They are a bit more expensive / question so I haven't used it yet.


haven't found anything for automating this yet. And also I'm skeptical of focus groups as a methodology.

But... Digital forums for this might be interesting. What are the hot social networks for 'group discussions' now? I need to check Quora. Any recommendations for places where people get into deep topic discussions? Something similar to what Tribe used to be.

USABILITY TESTING - haven't used yet. Competitive usability testing seems useful, but maybe at later stages. - haven't used yet


I've been doing 'phone call based interviews' with friends of friends, and this has resulted in some interesting feedback, but the numbers aren't high enough. Maybe I should just post a craig's list ad and ask for phone interview respondents.
Anyone have tips on getting more in-person discussions going?

Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur and Software Architect

October 10th, 2013

I've banged my head against this wall many times.  Everyone tells you to do customer development, get out the building, etc, but your potential customers don't respond!

I used to think that this meant I was looking in the wrong place, or not crafting the message about my product appropriately.  If I only found some secret website or subreddit where they all are, I could get valuable customer feedback!

But, now, after much pain and failure, I think it means something different.  I think it means that people don't like my idea enough to respond.  I now take this to mean that I don't have a market.  

Better to go find a market of people first, that you already have access to, and stop asking them about products.  Ask them what they need.

I bet you'd get a better response.

This is bitter medicine for product oriented folks.  But it may save you time.

Cheryl Tom CEO, Founder at Vain Pursuits

October 10th, 2013

Go to the university - there are always lots of students milling around wasting time between classes... Cafeteria, student clubs (knock on the door of their offices), lounges. Share your story, give something away (snacks?) - I find them very open and approachable. You'll get lots of info in a couple of hours. 

Matt Farnell

October 10th, 2013

start a group on the topic.

Rob G

October 14th, 2013

Jeff;  don't try to over complicate this.  this stage of your customer/market dev is too important to leave to digital wizardry. you need good old-fashioned face time.  once you have a good Db of the demographic you think is your market then you can streamline with SOME digital surveys, etc., but not now.  talk to someone in your demographic who has a college-age daughter or niece, etc. I think Cheryl T. is spot on.  If your target market (or what you think is your market) is college age women then go to campus or Sbux, or wherever college age women congregate near you and recruit an intern or two.   Pay them (to recruit 10's or 100's of your target demographic and then go talk to them in smallish (10 or fewer) groups. Focus groups take WAY too much time to organize.  College students (i can only speak for guys) like: beer, girls, food (not necessarily in that order).  Ask your 1 or 2 interns to get creative and bribe their target groups with whatever it is that attracts college-age women. Maybe that means they organize a party that you pay for.  If you get feedback that indicates your idea has merit, then i would look at hiring or partnering to get someone on your team who IS your target market and who has ready access to them. Also, find your competitors/partners/influencers and find out how they reach their target markets. This link is to a company that has NAILED the jewelry distribution and business model.  the founder is smart. learn whatever you can from them.  call the founder (they are growing very fast so i would think she is a tad busy).
good luck. 

Brian Gannon Founder, CEO at Wink Labs

October 10th, 2013

Jeff, You just need to talk with 3-5 people face to face for approx 1 hour each. Everything else is a waste of time.

Lawrence Botley Software Architect

October 10th, 2013

You can try

my new startup, just the kinds of thing we do!


October 10th, 2013

Jeff, are you offering compensation? I have plenty of college/recent graduate female friends who might be able to help you out. Message me, and let's chat. :)

Jeff Axup Sr. Manager, Palo Alto UX Design Research Group at Bosch

October 10th, 2013

Oh, and I forgot to mention the best product review site ever -

And not only do they have reviews, but they now have Questions from users about stuff they were worried about or that wasn't answered in the original product marketing overview.
I've been reviewing comments for similar/competitor products on there and getting some great quotes and idea for things to avoid in my own designs. It probably wouldn't be hard to copy/paste these into some kind of lexical analysis tool to get a quantitative look at frequent terms/concepts etc like SurveyMonkey offers.

Marc Dewalle

October 10th, 2013

Jeff, the co-work place where I hang out has a few people working in jewelry and related start-ups.  They're probably not direct competitors and might be willing to share ideas.  Feel free to ping me and I can put you in touch.

- marc 

Paul Travis Multifaceted Online Executor: Product Marketing to Program Mgmt. to Business Development

October 10th, 2013

Jeff -- similar to AYTM is

I also like incorporating/branching to multiple focus groups of 1 with -- or bringing together 6 or 8 for a virtual focus group via Google Hangout.