Entrepreneurs: Find Your First Talkers

Entrepreneurs: Find Your First Talkers

The economy may be down, but the entrepreneurial spirit is in full bloom.  Recently, I had the pleasure to catch up with 2 former colleagues in the midst of amping up their online businesses.  After both conversations, I realized that the first step in WOMM is different for new vs. established businesses.

The first T in Andy Sernovitz’ 5T framework (a worksheet for which can be found here) is Talkers.  Who is going to spread the word about you?  An established brand can do research to determine who is already talking, analyze what they organically talk about and use that as a good starting point for a word of mouth marketing program.  A new company, however, does not have that luxury.

New Site/Service Step 1: Identify which micro-audience will derive the most value from the differentiation of your offering. They will be your talkers.  They can be your beta testers and your product development focus group and your conscience as you make decisions about the business.

The challenge?  Like minoxidil that was designed for high blood pressure and now treats baldness or Dr. Martens shoes that were designed as gardening shoes for the elderly and became a symbol of the punk movement, sometimes your most valuable talkers are not the ones your originally had in mind when you went into business.  Here are some thoughts on finding them:

  1. Family & Friends – Ask family and friends (real and Facebook) to test the site, provide you some feedback, and suggest what THEY think the value of the site is and what the ultimate user profile would be.
  2. Research, ID and start to follow bloggers in all of the different profiles/specialties that your family and friends think might be your ultimate users to gain insights into their needs and desires.
  3. Ask a handful of bloggers to check out what you’re building and provide you with some feedback on your beta.
  4. Gauge which segment has the most significant need/value from your offering and prioritize their development requirements.
  5. Develop new features, and repeat from step 3.

As promised Sunday, this was the gist of my feedback for Recipecomparison.com.  What else do you tell the entrepreneurs who seek WOMM advice from you?  Do you have any other thoughts for this site in particular?

2 Replies to “Entrepreneurs: Find Your First Talkers”

  1. To Virginia and your readers who have made suggestions in the other post, thank you. I am the founder & CEO of http://www.RecipeComparison.com and my wife & I really appreciate your help.

    Virginia, I am in awe of your ability to clearly articulate both an analysis of my situation and some recommendations. You helped me in many ways, though perhaps the most important message was to simply slow down and listen more closely to the people who had already offered me feedback. Listening to our users is something we all (think we) know, but it often takes an objective professional such as yourself to nicely tell us we can do better and give us a framework for listening.

    As it turns out, some of our early users do deal with food allergies and like our site because it already helped them more quickly spot recipes with ingredients that they could not eat. I didn’t listen closely enough or well enough to recognize them as a passionate micro-audience that deserves more of our attention. Even once I realized this, I started to jump to the wrong conclusions and tried to force their problems to match the functionality we already have. For example, I assumed people with food allergies would want to filter out recipes with certain ingredients, which is a feature that http://www.RecipeComparison.com already supports. That was completely wrong. While filtering may be nice, I realized in truly listening to our users with food allergies that most prefer to see the offending ingredients because they may simply omit an ingredient from the recipe (e.g. skipping the shellfish in a pasta dish) or substitute another ingredient (e.g. soy milk for cow’s milk).

    Once I changed my mindset from searching and filtering ingredients to more quickly spotting ingredients, I realized that it would be helpful to let users specify these food allergies in their profile such that the website could automatically highlight those ingredients with a different color. The users I talked to loved this idea, and we are now absolutely committed to adding this functionality in the upcoming weeks. We also realize this goes beyond a simple website feature to something that will truly help people who struggle to simply feed their children and themselves because of a condition that I can’t begin to appreciate. Hopefully http://www.RecipeComparison.com will be rewarded with greater word-of-mouth marketing for genuinely listening.

    I realize this comment is getting rather long, but I would like to quickly address some of the other comments to your original post. The first & most obvious is around providing greater nutritional information. This is something my wife and I are personally passionate about and will absolutely be doing. The implementation isn’t going to be quick & easy, but it will happen. I also love the idea of featuring recipes from other sites in my homepage comparison, which should in turn drive more traffic to the partner who works with me on this. Now I just need to build relationships that can enable that to happen. I also want to expand the rating system which I have and add features such as the meal suggestion, printing a shopping list.

    Thanks again to everyone.

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