How to do Customer Validation: Market Research for Startups


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Have an exciting idea for a business? Here are step-by-step instructions for using LinkedIn to set up interviews with prospective customers, get feedback, and discover if your idea is viable.

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How to do Customer Validation: Market Research for Startups

  1. 1. MARKET RESEARCH FOR STARTUPS: How to do Customer Validation Judy Schramm, CEO ProResource, Inc. November 26, 2013
  2. 2. “Every entrepreneur thinks they’ve invented teleportation.” “Not everyone has.” Eric Ries, Author The Lean Startup
  3. 3. How do you find out if your idea is really great? Talk to 30-50 customers! (or 30-50 people who know lots of customers)
  4. 4. Where do you find them? 259 million members “World’s largest professional network”
  5. 5. Search tricks: title: marketing “cloud computing” NOT “open source” “financial adviser” OR “financial advisor” (cloud OR saas) AND (“health care” OR medical)
  6. 6. Join up to 50 groups – the more groups you join, the more people you can connect with
  7. 7. Follow the Trail People know people like themselves
  8. 8. How to Introduce Yourself with a Connect Request Restrictions: • 300 characters • No email, phone or URL • Need to be in the same group or have their email Include:  Why them  What you have to offer (why you are contacting them)  What you want from them
  9. 9. How to Introduce Yourself with a Message  Must be in the same group  Need a subject line  Can include an email, URL and phone  Keep it short You don’t have to be connected!
  10. 10. How to Introduce Yourself with an OpenLink Message or InMail     No cost for OpenLink Limited # of InMails/month Extra InMails cost ~$10 Unaccepted InMails are returned and credited
  11. 11. Why Connect Requests are Better The more people you are connected with, the more you can connect to Once connected, you have a way to stay in touch Average connect acceptance rate 25-60% But… accepting a connect request ≠ Yes You need a follow-up message with the ask.
  12. 12. When Messages are Better When you need more than 300 characters to tell your story When you want to include a call to action with a URL, email or phone When you have a really compelling subject line When you have received too many “I Don’t Know” responses – this can happen to very active users of LinkedIn. LinkedIn may require that you enter the recipient’s email before you can connect with them.
  13. 13. How many people to contact? Average response rate 5% If you want 50 conversations… 1000
  14. 14. Run Experiments – Make it a Game Message #1 Message #2 Message #3 Message #4 Message #5 Try different benefits Use different words Target #1 Target #2 Target #3  You need at least 50 per cell  Tag them so you know who was in each group (and you don’t contact anyone twice)  Track results! Test different job titles, company size, keywords
  15. 15. Have Someone Else Do the Work!  You design the experiments.  Have an intern or assistant do the searches and send out messages.
  16. 16. When You Talk to People  Ask for 10 minutes • Take 2-3 minutes to explain your idea • “Can you tell me why it wouldn’t work?”  If they say: • “That’s a good idea.” ≠ GOOD • “I know someone who might be interested.” = GOOD  Ask if you can stay in touch as you progress
  17. 17. Before You Start • It’s worth upgrading to Premium ($24.95/month) • Update your profile (see checklist) – Photo – Summary – Current job? – Endorsements • Expand your connections (LIONs), OpenLink
  18. 18. Contact Judy Schramm ProResource, Inc. 703-824-8482 @proresource We design LinkedIn lead generation programs for B2B tech firms.