Interview 7-15 people from your audience
You’re setting out to see if the assumptions you’ve made are actually real or not. It’s good to have confidence in your experience, and it’s very likely that if you’re working on a concept in an industry you’re familiar with, you’ve been noticing patterns for a while and making assumptions based on that. After all, that’s how all human brains work.
But this is the stage where you step out of your assumptions, to see if what you perceive as real and frustrating is true for others as well. It’s the key moment of the validation process, as most products fail in the first 3 years because there’s no market need.
What you need:
Your trusty internet connection
A spreadsheet to keep track of who you want to talk to
Some way to record or take notes on your conversations
The best way to keep track of your interviews and come back to them for future insights is to record them. It’s best practice to get permission from your conversation partner before the interview to record the meeting. If you do the interview online, both Skype, Google Meet or Zoom allow you to record meetings.
If the conversation is happening live, you can choose to record on your smartphone’s standard voice app or invest in a better recorder. Only take notes on pen and paper as a last resort. Dividing your attention between note-taking and the conversation, or leaving the note-taking for after the conversation adds a filter to the recording that might mean you’ll leave out unintentionally information that might have been relevant on a second listen or re-read.
What to do:
Make a list of 3 to 5 characteristics that fit your audience profile and who you are sure encounter the problem you’re researching on a regular basis.
Research your list of contacts and ask for recommendations in order to talk to them. Use the template to document them until you get to around 25.
Start reaching out to your list and schedule calls or meetings with them until you have 7 conversations scheduled.
Interview the 7 people according to the guide you’ve written previously and document your conversations in a written format.
How do you know if you’re done?
Download the template to track your conversations
This template will help you keep track of everyone you want to talk to and what stage you’ve reached in the interviewing process. Think of it as your personal interviewee management system and celebrate every time someone reaches the ‘Done’ column.
While you work
More than one audience type? More interviews to do
If your product is a double-sided marketplace or has more that one audience type, add an extra 7 people to interview for each audience category.
The first people you talk to are your first advocates
There’s potential in building a community around your product. And the first people you talk to could become the first people you tell about your product idea in the next conversation, your first-time users, your first advocates as your product grows. Don’t underestimate word-of-mouth or the art of asking when you’re in the early stage. There are things right now you can do that you won’t be able to do at scale, and building meaningful experiences with your first 100 users is one of them.
Erika is a full-stack marketer passionate about the intersection between technology and social impact. She mixes research with content design and a human touch to help people and startups succeed in delivering value through their work. When not writing or talking to people, you’ll find her reading or quoting Hamilton for any life situation.