Dying to push your business for growth? Great! But first, run a must-have survey

The Growth Strategy Basics

Running and sustaining a business nowadays in an ever-increasingly competitive world is focussed on one core concept that will serve to achieve all company goals - growth. Business growth can encompass company areas such as employee growth, equipment growth, innovation growth, output growth, international growth, customer growth, revenue growth, market share growth. I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

Businesses, especially start-ups, are desperate “to start pushing for growth […] due to demands from taking venture capital or […] because the company needs to prove itself in order to raise capital, or generate revenue”* to survive. However, sustainable business growth requires a relevant company strategy which must not be ignored at the expense of fast and forceful growth initiatives.

A company growth strategy should target not only short-term, but also long-term growth. Ultimately, any growth or strategy is contingent upon an organisation’s product or service and the market or customer it serves, i.e., the product-market-fit which is strongly impacted by the user experience (or UX).

Often companies believe they know with utmost certainty which features or aspects of a product or service their customers will love; however, in most cases they are wrong. This is a core reason for 90% of all start-ups worldwide failing and, thus, going out of business. Fortunately, for larger organisations, this will not lead to survival issues. Nevertheless, deciding on the wrong strategies may also lead to immense financial crises in larger enterprises.

So how do you close this knowledge gap in order to achieve optimal product-market-fit and spark the required growth?
business growth

Re-evaluating Product-Market-Fit

Whether a company has just been founded and is in the start-up phase trying to figure out its place in the market and the true value of its product or service for potential customers, or whether a company is an established market player acting in a highly dynamic and competitive surrounding that is driven by constant innovation and new product releases, there is a constant need to re-evaluate a company’s product-market-fit to ensure ongoing business growth.

In order to determine your product-market-fit, the product needs to possess a must-have status, meaning the product requires certain characteristics that a large group of people would love. This group of people is a pool of potential customers to convert.

More specifically, “why is a product must-have and who must have it?".  In other words, what is a product’s core value, to which customers, and why?”*

If a product has achieved the aforementioned must-have status, it becomes crucial to dig into user data to identify your product’s Aha! experience which will turn early customers into die-hard fans. The Aha! moment “is the moment that the utility of the product really clicks for the users; when the users really get the core value – what the product is for, why they need it, and what benefit they derive from using it”*, ergo matching the must-have product with the user’s perception and experience of the product’s value.

The question remaining is how to find out whether your product is must-have and ultimately how it conveys the Aha! experience to your customers. Oftentimes, this is a tricky question to answer; however, a “must-have survey”* has been developed which can help address this challenge. This survey will ensure the collection of user feedback on customers’ product experience and evaluation of data for similarities, as well as patterns of how they use the product, i.e., in which way this generates the optimal value for them.

Setting Up a Must-Have Survey

The following survey questions are merely a framework for determining must-have status and the Aha! experience which were developed and successfully tested by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown. Modifications of these questions and the adding of further questions can be undertaken according to a company’s individual goals and context.

However, this short survey will prove to be an effective guide on how to get started when measuring crucial metrics by addressing several items relevant to growth.
If the answer option “Very Disappointed” in question 1 hits a response rate of at least 40%, chances are extremely good that your product has a must-have status. 25% to 40% response rate for that same answer option require some minor modifications to the product or communication. Anything less than 25% of very disappointed respondents requires major modifications to the product or target audience.

Whether a must-have level has been achieved within the first question or not, the remaining questions can give good insights on your users’ impression and satisfaction with your product.

Question 2 can deliver insights about your chief competitor from you customers’ point of view as well as desirable features and services said competitor offers. Question 3 may point to aspects of your business you should be focusing on to maintain or improve for your customers. Question 4 is the well-known Net Promoter Score to assess your customer satisfaction by means of your recommendation or word-of-mouth potential. Question 5 may help you uncover fitting customer niches to target effectively, and last but not least, question 6 “can identify both glaring issues with the product that make it a nonstarter for broad adoption and opportunities to enhance the product that the company might not have thought of on its own”.*

By analysing and evaluating your must-have survey data, you should get a good idea of who your target audience is, what the core value of your product is to this audience and why they are in need of your product. At the same time, your customers are reminded of the quality of your business which reflects in the Aha! experience with your product.

Maintaining your growth momentum

As has been described in the previous sections, a small amount of market research in the form of a customer must-have survey can ensure a more effective product-market-fit before (!) a complete public launch and hence contribute to more strategic short-term as well as long-term growth.

It is, however important to maintain the aforementioned momentum in a highly dynamic and innovative business environment by frequently, e.g., annually, taking a step back to get feedback on the strategic direction you are heading in by those that matter most to you - your customers.

*Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown (2017): Hacking Growth; Crown Business, US.