“We’ve gone through one-too-many sprints building things we don’t know will make a difference for the buyer.”

Things aren’t selling as much as I’m hoping. I interviewed some people but nothing really comes out of my research. I’m tempted to change my marketing, but I’ve tried that before and haven’t found an approach that works. I’ve been wasting my time and my attention trying to change my marketing approach, and I’d like to get some help with my research. I know there’s something here, but I just can’t uncover it.

People are cancelling our service, and I’d like to stop the spigot if I could! I know what people are switching to, but I don’t want to match the competitor, I just want to know what makes us unique.”

“It’s been a month and a half since we shipped a feature we’ve spent 5 sprints building. And despite us educating our users about the feature, the new feature is barely getting used! Yet, we’ve heard from our users that this feature was needed. Something’s wrong with the way we’re finding features to build, and we’re sure it’s because we’re jumping to conclusions about what the user wants. Help!”

You’re Seeing…

  • Bizarre patterns in who’s been buying your product
  • Features that work more than expected, other features less than expected
  • An uptick in cancellations
  • A slowdown in sales
  • A surprising success you didn’t see coming

You’ve Started with Your Research

You’ve been talking to customers. You have more people you could talk to. But you’re not sure you’re asking the right questions. The product started down the right path, but now you’re not sure if that’s the path to continue on.

“We thought we knew, but we no longer do.”

It’s now time for a little more research into your buyers.

prioritize A Research Boost To Focus Your Product Priorities

By the End of Our Time Together, You’ll Get:

  • A boost in your research: some quicker insights, and some better insights too, than continuing to stay the course;
  • A better understanding of what to build, and what to avoid building;
  • A better understanding of what to communicate to sell your product;
  • Some new insights into the minds of your buyers, what made them say “yes, this now”, when they purchased your product (and the “job” for which they “hired” your product);
  • or some new insights into the minds of the people leaving your product, who say “I’m done with this”;
  • Purchase interviews (recorded) giving you stories about your buyers that will help shape your decisions;
  • A final document summarizing the result of the research;
  • Some new possibilities on how we can work together next: A/B testing changes to your site, more research, or help shaping your next features.

Before we start:

  1. You need to have recent buyers who would be ready to talk about their purchase story on an hour-long call. 5 interviews minimum, but 10 is sufficient. Or, enough cancellations that we can talk to 5-10 recent people leaving your product.
  2. Start by answering these questions below, so we can start getting to know each other and so I can understand how I can help. I’ll write back with some more questions.
  3. Once I get a good sense of how I can be helpful, I’ll provide you with a proposal with some options to go forward.

Or, Here’s How You Could Try It First:

  1. Invite those who have recently purchased your product (or cancelled a subscription) to answer a few questions ahead of a possible phone call for more questions. That will be for your screener questionnaire;
  2. In the screener questionnaire, make sure you ask questions which select candidates that fit the criteria for a purchase interview;
  3. Prepare to reward those who participate in purchase interviews with an incentive - normally a gift certificate for an amount that’s worth the time of your audience. A voucher for a discount on your product might work too;
  4. Interview 5 to 10 recent purchasers using questions that ask what happened in the steps leading up to the purchase, and stay away from questions that ask the buyer to draw conclusions or to use the creative parts of their brain in any way;
  5. Make sure each interview uncovers the forces of progress that pushed and pulled the buyer at each step of the story, that it digs up the situations that caused the buyer to get moving, that it finds the key events that make up every purchase story, and that you can identify the “job” for which the buyer “hired” your product.

This is based on the Jobs-to-be-done Theory of Buyer Behavior, pioneered by Clayton Christensen, Bob Moesta and Chris Spiek from the Re-Wired group, Alan Klement and other, which states that:

Your Buyers Just Wanted to Make Progress

They were experiencing some kind of struggle, and your product came along as a way forward.

There Are Forces at Play in the Mind of the Buyer

Your Product Is Competing Against Odd Competitors for the Job It Was Hired to Do

And, specifically, it’s competing against “non-consumption”.

Make Each Feature Support a Job-to-be-done

And avoid, at all costs, the trap of having features creating anxiety for your buyers (“I don’t want to have to learn all this”).

Avoid “Overserving”

Which happens when you’ve built too much product, or your product doesn’t really help the job for which buyers hired your product.

At this point, I propose two options:

  1. filling out the questionnaire below;
  2. or heading over to the /visualize page to learn about a one-off consulting call, the cost of which will be waved if you decide to move ahead with the /prioritize package as described above.

Hope that helps.

Stay Sharp!


Questionnaire for the /prioritize package

What's Your Name?
What's Your Email Address?
I won't sign you up for anything with this form.
What can you tell me about your product?
Please share the URL of the website too, even if you're thinking of changing it.
What have you been trying recently to help improve your product?
Please describe your current challenge.
Are some of your features not used as much? Or maybe you're getting cancellations. Or maybe it's time to try something else with your marketing.
If you are human, leave this blank.

Thanks! I'll be in touch within a day or two with more questions.