What’s the missing ingredient in your lean product strategy?

If you’re creating games, products, apps or services and embrace a lean/agile mindset. you already know that developing and play-testing your idea with potential customers is pivotal to your success.

But here’s the thing: it’s not always clear exactly WHO you should be testing your ideas on, as you’re bringing your product to life. Which customers should you solicit feedback from early-on? What about validating ideas – who should you pay attention to when there’s conflicting feedback? And as you get closer to launch, how should your play-testing strategy change?

Concentric Rings of Play-testing

circles1Most product creators start out by testing their ideas, sketches and prototypes with a small, trusted circle of people – e.g. the team and department that’s building the product – to bring the basics to life and get early feedback. Next, they’ll open it up to a broader circle – such as friends and family, or a limited closed Beta test. After that, they’ll  focus on connecting with their ideal customers – their Early Majority – as they launch and expand their product.

These Concentric Rings of play-testing are common in product and game development – and many products are launched this way.  But there’s something missing in this progression – something that’s common to the most successful innovators – the ones that produce breakthrough hits like eBay, Ultima Online, the Sims,  Rock Band, Happify, Covet Fashion and Slack.

This missing ingredient can be your secret weapon – a powerful resource that informs your design and super-charges your product development. IF you manage it right.

Build & Leverage a Superfan Community

circles2The secret ingredient behind so many innovative hits is a Super-fan Community – a small group of vetted, high-need early customers who provide ongoing input, and help bring the product to life. Smart product creators engage these people early in development – and continue to leverage their input and energy throughout development.

Your super-fans are NOT your “target market”- they’re a higher-need and further-ahead slice. Think of them as a proxy for where your “early majority” might be in a few months or years.

We know from Innovation Diffusion Theory — and it’s well-known descendent. Crossing the Chasm – that innovators NEED to find and delight their early-adopter market before trying to win over the early majority. The startup graveyard is littered with companies who’s tried to skip over that step – and failed.

Successful innovators understand that they need to work with their Super-fans early in development — and then shift towards understanding the mainstream players later, during launch and expansion. They add “super-fans” to their Concentric Rings play-tesitng plan, as shown here — and then leverage that resource to super-charge their path to product/market fit.

Key Ingredients for your Superfan Community

To harness the power of your early passionate customers to build a better product, try inviting them into a small, focused group where you talk with them, learn from them — and listen to them talking with each other.  If you want to build a high-value super-fan community that will enhance your product development, you’ll need three key ingredients:

  1. vetted super-fans – AKA high-value, high-need early customers
  2. group gathering place – using a tool that your super-fans are comfortable with
  3. lightweight community management – based on the Lead/Listen/Learn framework

Intrigued? Come to our FREE Webinar this Tuesday October 25 at 9 AM PST
Build your Super-fan Community: 5 Key Questions that reveal your ideal customers.

During this training, you’ll learn how to find the right super-fans, select a convenient group gathering place, and run a lively and focused community that keeps your super-fans engaged – AND provides ongoing high-value feedback to your development team.

To learn more and signup for this FREE Webinar, CLICK HERE. Hope to see you at the event!