Zurb does product design. Robert Scoble covers products. It’s a match made in heaven for a productive lunch date. And, today, 75-odd people got to watch. Here are a few startup lessons we learned in the LoveSac- and goldfish-populated Zurb headquarters.
Overcoming The User Conundrum
Twitter took six months to get to 13,000 users. Now, Alexia Tsotsis of Techcrunch laughs at apps with 30,000 users (well, assuming they try to pitch her on their impressive user base). It’s no longer enough (or even important) to have a lot of users—you have to delight them too. Getting 15 people to love you can have amazing effects. Scoble offered up a great comparison to determine customer delight. At a recent music festival, Scoble watched from afar as many different acts played. Only Skrillex had 10,000 people jumping up and down. Companies need for their products to have a Skrillex effect.
B2B Isn’t Different
One audience member asked about how B2B companies can appeal to the tech media, which can sometimes seem focused primarily on consumer companies. Scoble’s answer was simple: it’s still about the story. He cited Boeing as an example: only 15 people in the world buy some of the jets Boeing makes. But thousands of people fly in them. Having a blog and social media presence is a great way for Boeing to connect with the customers who benefit from the product, not just the companies who buy it. That’s a critical point that corporations sometimes miss. Google’s recent Project Glass video was released for a similar reason: to get customer feedback. Google Glasses aren’t available for purchase yet. They may never be. But Google wants to know the features that users want, so they can work on building them—and making people jump, or play ukulele, or however they express delight.
Listening Isn’t Understanding
There’s a constant pressure to “listen” to customers, which can sometimes seem to imply taking what customers say at face value. Smart companies need to go one step further and unravel the meaning of what customers say. It’s not enough to listen—companies need to understand the real story behind customer demands. In the case of Henry Ford, his customers would have told him they wanted a faster horse and buggy. What they really needed was better transportation. The companies who can parse consumer declarations to uncover the real meaning and actual needs behind them are the companies who innovate and stay ahead of the competition—and even the industry.
Scoble pointed out that companies–B2C, B2B, or otherwise–need customer understanding above all else. It was refreshing to hear a truly consumer-focused—people-focused, really—message today–perhaps the best of the startup lessons we’ve learned. We hope others heard it too, and remember: be Skrillex. Don’t listen to everything. But provide something that makes people jump (in a good way, not in a scared way).