I’ve been asked a lot about interesting tools that can help support founders and product development teams get their product off the ground.
These tools are generally free (at some level) but also designed to capture customer feedback and insights rapidly to support testing all levels and fidelities of minimal viable products and beyond.
This is not an exclusive list and I will aim to add to it from time to time but I thought I would share a starter kit initially and build upon it – incrementally.
So here are a few tools to get you started – let me know others you like to further build out the list;
Get Out Of The Building – NOW!
Do it now. Leave your desk. Your computer can come with you if you are worried about leaving it for too long. Go. Now. Go and talk to people about what your product is about and see if anyone is interested.
Go to where the fishes swim. If you are making a flights product, go to the airport. If you are building a machine for doctors, go to the hospital and find them. They are out there. They’ll talk to you. People love to think they are helping to create the next Facebook or Google.
- Free, Fast, Easy and Fun
- You are talking to real customers
- Interacting with the people that will make your product successful
- Understand problems that customers want solved
- Feeling what it is like to really be a product developer
Problem / Solution Canvas
There are various versions of the problem / solution canvas currently available. We have the Lean Canvas, the Validation Canvas from my friends at Lean Startup Machine along with enumerable others. The key purpose of this tool is to quickly map and visulise what the problem is you are trying to solve and how you plan to do it.
- Free, Fast, Simple, Visual
- Ensures you focus on the problem that you need to solve and record your proposed solution
- Records results of tests and experiments you have performed
- Allows others to engage with the idea immediately
- CxOs and accountants get it straight away
- Its self documenting
Business Model Canvas
The Business Model Canvas is the big brother of the problem/solution canvas, initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder and his team. It is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool that enables you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. Compared to writing a business plan which can take several weeks or months, you can outline multiple possible models on canvas in minutes to showcase to others for feedback.
An often-cited example of how the Business Model Canvas can support discovering new opportunities is Amazon. By using the canvas, they discovered that hosting the website was a key resource that had a major impact on their bottom line. They decided to turn that impact to an opportunity and thus Amazon Web Services was born.
- Domain mapping
- Wider view of your entire business model including costing and revenue
- Customer-focused on the value proposition you are offering each segment
- Visibility of what your company is about
Launch Rock enables you to launch a new product with custom landing pages within minutes. You can promote your site launch using their announcement bar and start to socialize your site on your networks. Use an elevator pitch on the site and gauge if the customer is keen.
- Build a landing page in seconds
- SEO to discover your service
- Free access to target market and customers
- Find out if people are interested in your value proposition
- Do customers sign up?
- Capture customer contacts for later…
Unbounce lets marketers build, publish and test landing pages without IT or software. A/B testing and lead generation make it a powerful marketing tool. You can create, publish and test promotion-specific landing pages without the need for IT or developers.
- Multipage versions of pages
- A/B testing
- Monitor usage
- 30-day free trial
Better measurement leads to better insights, which enables better decisions, resulting in better outcomes. KISSmetrics is an analytics platform that allows you to understand what the most important people to your business, customers, are doing on your site. What features they like, interact with, when they come back – if at all.
- Understand what customers are doing on the site
- Track feature usage
- Conversion funnel analysis and reporting
- Cohort analysis
- Retention analysis
- 14 days free trail
Ask Your Target Market
Ask Your Target Market is an online market research application with a built-in panel of 4.5 million people – DIY online market research. Define your exact target audience by drilling-down into a panel of over 4.5 million consumers in 5 countries (US, CA, UK, AU & IN) and find your ideal research respondents based upon their psychographic and demographic characteristics.
Alternatively, you can write your own surveys and target them at list of customers you already have.
- Target questionnaire at based on focused demographics
- Write surveys to gather information from your customers
- Launch instantly
- Query existing panels or your own lists (collect from Launch Rock!)
- Get results fast
SnapEngage live chat helps you to sell better and support your customers more effectively with both live chat and screen captures. It easy to install, you can chat from your IM client including Google Talk and Skype. You can obtain detailed customer visitor information but most importantly they are customers actually using your site!
- Interview customers live, when they are looking at your site and engaged
- Detailed visitor information
- Free to trail
UserTesting.com is an online usability testing tool that provides a fast, cheap and easy ways to find out why visitors leave your website. You can watch usability testing sessions as visitors talking during testing sessions of your site.
- PC and mobile testing
- Feedback in an hour
- 3 people for $90
The last time I did this we set up in a cafe, with a USB camera connected to a laptop held in position with a rubber band and peg.
- Super Fun
- User testing and customer interview at the same time
- Interactive and with real people
- Can query more when you spot an emotional reaction in the customer – dig a bit deeper