I did an interview with Patrick on how he built his mobile app business last month after hearing him speak at MicroConf this year and speaking with him. Patrick has great insight into the mobile space and I’m really pleased he took some time out to speak with me.
Customer Development is great. It can really reduce your risk and save you years of misery. One misconception about the methodology that I myself fall prey to is a promise that building something people want is enough. It’s not enough.
You hear a lot of talk about pain killers versus vitamins and the logic is sound, but how many of the things you buy or your business buys would you really call a pain killer? If I look around, I don’t honestly see that many. Sure, some of them save me time or money. I like having them around. Tedium is reduced, but pain killer? It’s not a compulsion. Few of these things are absolutely necessary and most of them have reasonable alternatives.
How many things that you buy happened simply because someone built something to solve a problem you had? Wait, none? Zero things flashed into your mind and wallet because they were constructed to solve your problems?
How many of the products you buy are ideal solutions for your problems? Does it feel like someone understands you and your specific context? I doubt it. I am often delighted by the smallest improvements in design. If the benefit of using the product is there, I’ll put up with a lot of hassle.
Do you always buy the best or most feature-ful option? Most expensive? Cheapest? Wait, it might be too complex or error-prone with a lot of features? And you think it would be crazy to pay $X for that, but also that there has to be something wrong with the cheapest one?
How do you make your purchasing decisions then? I’ll tell you. You get marketed to because someone else has studied you. you belong to their targeted segment. They are trying to understand you. To speak to you. To talk like you. They want to help you succeed because then you’ll both succeed. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better. They want you to buy.
Don’t expect to build something people want and have a sudden success on your hands. You have to understand your market. Speak like them. Talk to them. Find where they hang out. You have to market something people want.
An excerpt from my cold calling book…
All most people will see is the ‘To:’ and ‘Subject:’ lines. Make them good.
Your subject should be terse and free of useless words. Be specific and summarize the email. If the email includes a deadline or a date, then put it in the subject. You can use subjects to interest the reader but not to create the promise of things that are not there. Much of the advice about writing a good headline also applies here.
If you have something to sell, you should use the headline to make a value offer that they find interesting. If you just want to talk to them, you can do the same if you have an offer to make. If there isn’t a value offer or resource you have fewer options. I usually go with honesty in the best light I can.
If I want to talk to dentists about problems in the dental industry I’m going to research enough to write a specific headline that shows I’ve done the homework. I may try a few different specifics in the subjects I send out and figure out which ones strike a chord with people. You won’t get statistically significant data, but you can pick up on how they react. Repeat what works and continue to experiment.
Start a blog: Interview <Business Name> for <Blog Name>
The blog might be a place to feature businesses or a collection of posts about how businesses in the industry handle best practices.
Write a report: 7 Ways to Improve X in <business>
Be honest and specific: Chat about handling <problem> in <business>
Name drop: Jackie Brown said to ask you about <topic>
Don’t start the conversation with a bad subject.
Lazy: talk about problems in your business
Bad blind sales: Dentistry Practice Software
Feels false: Double your business today!
Follow up like Gravity
I had a physics professor in college that started every class by pushing everything on the table in front of the chalkboard off the far edge. He usually did it all in a rush. After the clattering science equipment settled, he would say, “Still works. Gravity is relentless.” Email requires that you are relentless. You should do so at 7-10 days without a response and then every thirty days after that. Use followup.cc, boomerang, or similar tools to help keep you on schedule. The prospects might get annoyed in the first couple months, but they get over it. You will get some respect for tenacity and you might catch them when they have a free moment. The cold email game is a battle for hitting the inbox at a time when you can get a response. If an email is more than a couple days old, the chances are that it won’t get attention. You can use major mailing list service providers like Aweber or Mailchimp to see your own email statistics, I have included some common rates for a few industries in a table below.
|Type of Company||Open Rate||Click Rate|
|Business and Finance||15.47%||2.77%|
|Software and Web App||15.57%||2.49%|
Data from MailChimp:
If you enjoyed this excerpt, you should check out the cold calling book.