I caught a little flack for my recent posts about a customer discovery project we’re working on here at The Combine. Day one of the customer discovery process, I went totally social and posted a question on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and this blog. That ruffled some feathers among customer discovery purists. Here’s why I did what I did.

Start the Conversation

When you’re not an expert in the subject you’re researching (or “discovering”), it can be very helpful to have some language around which to build the actual customer discovery process. I don’t know jack about home automation, home energy consumption monitoring, solar energy, or electric vehicles. I am considering moving my family, which opens up the door to “a whole new start” in a new home where I plan on installing some home automation like Nest, SimpliSafe, Schlage Smart Locks, pHin (if we get a pool), and perhaps even some $35 Flux WiFi Lightbulbs for the next disco party. But right now, I don’t know what I don’t know.

Ask, and You Will Receive

A very wise friend of mine has a saying: “questions are your friend.” You learn a lot about a person from what they say and even more from what they ask. When I don’t know about something, I ask. I ask a ton of questions until I just “get it.” From that point, I know what I don’t know. I can then intelligently research as much as I want or need to know. As previously mentioned, I don’t know jack about home automation and home energy monitoring. I just today downloaded the Georgia Power App. Who knew?

Set the Stage for the Conversations

The quick easy social posts I shared earlier generated more than 60 conversations about this topic. I listened 90% of the time during these conversations, and now I am comfortable moving forward with a real customer discovery plan, including our first few hypotheses that we must prove or disprove. As many entrepreneurs know, getting started is often the hardest part. Social networks are powerful when utilized properly, and starting customer discovery in this way is a really easy, fast, powerful way to get started and even get some momentum.

Customer Discovery Is Long and Frustrating

Customer discovery purists will (and did) give me grief for going immediately to social networks and “taking the easy way”. Don’t discount the power of engaging in wide open conversations and setting yourself up for push back. Customer discovery is a long, grueling, sometimes frustrating process. It took me all of 15 minutes to share those social posts and generate 60+ conversations. That 15 minutes formed the basis for a great customer discovery engagement.

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