Create a better strategy through customer research <> The Mom Test Framework

“Don’t transform your business out of business, with a bad strategic decision.”

If you know me, you know my behavioral style.

One thing about my style is I like to make quick decisions and get on with things rather than be methodical in my decision-making process. Most of the time, this works for me.

But when investing in a Level 2 or 3 Innovation or planning our company’s strategy, gut feelings are not enough.

I think we can agree that COVID affected every company, every industry, and every marketplace, so relying on your gut when the future is still unknown is not the best decision.

While companies are looking to put their strategy together to get Back To The Future, they might lack a true sense of where the market is. They’re either relying on old pre-COVID data, making assumptions, or using their gut.

Neither will result in making the most informed strategic decisions.

When you have a true sense of where the market is, how it’s changed and didn’t change, you can make the right decisions to develop the most effective strategy to get Back To The Future in your business.

So, how do you gain an objective sense of the market?

By using a defined and thoughtful customer research process.

And that is what I am discussing in today’s Scoop: How to use The Mom Test (a defined and thoughtful customer research process) to improve your decision-making process leading to a brilliant strategy and properly vetting Level 2 and 3 Innovation decisions.

The Mom Test is a book by Rob Fitzpatrick. The book’s tagline reads,

“The quick and easy handbook about how to get more learning and more sales out of your customer conversations. Even when everyone is lying to you.”—Rob Fitzpatrick

At the core of what The Mom Test teaches is how to speak with your customers and prospects to learn insights that drive better decisions.

The book gets its name from an analogy of someone asking their mom whether their business idea is worth investing in. Of course, your mom will tell you it’s a great idea.

But that’s her being a good mother, not giving you objective and constructive feedback.

When speaking with your customers, you want to find the truth about your level 2 or 3 Innovation initiatives and if they will work. You also want them to give you the truth on where they see the market leading to crafting a more effective strategy.

But how do you unlock the truth?

“It’s not anyone else’s responsibility to show us the truth. It’s our responsibility to find it. We do that by asking good questions.”—Rob Fitzpatrick.

And that is what The Mom Test will help you do: Ask your customers better questions that lead to better insights leading to a better strategy. Or as Rob says,

“The Mom Test is a set of simple rules for crafting good questions that even your mom can’t lie to you about.”—Rob Fitzpatrick.

The Mom Test framework focuses on three core principles:

  1. Talk about their life instead of your business/product
  2. Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions of the future
  3. Talk less and listen more

(Number 3 is tough for my style)

By doing these three things, you will uncover where your customers are at right now (the market): their problems, cares, constraints, and goals.

When making big decisions like putting your strategy together or investing in Level 2 or 3 Innovation, do your homework no matter your behavioral style.

Spend the time doing your due-diligence through a thoughtful customer research process that you can repeat and improve. That’s what we’ve been doing at Stop The Vanilla.

In the past two months, we’ve conducted over 15 customer interviews to gain insights into where the strategy and talent industries are going and what our customers are seeing, feeling, and thinking.

We’re also using our customer research insights to improve our strategic planning process while vetting multiple Level 2 and Level 3 Innovation initiatives (Shh…).

Our customer research process contained:

  • A hypothesis for what we’re looking to solve through the research (Market insights, vetting Level 2-3 Innovation, or for your strategic planning process)
  • 3-4 main questions that we ask at the start (These questions are from the hypothesis to prove it right or wrong).
  • One person taking notes (Scribe) and recording the conversation
  • A brief team meeting after each interview to debrief and refine the questions and process

It’s not as hard as it seems. Once you get your customer research process in place, you’re ready to start getting objective insights through conversations.

When making big decisions, don’t rely on your gut which could lead to a poor decision. Don’t transform your business with a bad business decision. Do your homework to get objective data resulting in a higher-quality decision.

Those Who Plan—Make Informed Decisions.

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