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Once you know who your customers and users are going to be, you can start to get to know them better. Ok, we don’t literally recommend you go and kiss them. Nobody needs to know their customers that well (it’s just not scalable). But we do believe in the concept of kissing frogs. That is, testing out loads of potential users of your product to get the the heart of what they’re like.

Kiss 100 frogs before you do anything else

By frogs we mean potential users of your software development idea. To bottom out your idea and get to the heart it, you need to kiss a lot of them.

Action: make a list of all the different ways you can contact people to interview. Take some risks with this.

Leapfrog your way to 100

100 frogs is a lot, so start out with just five. These first five are the most important. Once you’ve got their input you can ask each of them to introduct you to five more frogs.

That way, from your first five you’ll get 25 more introductions. Working this way you’ll get to 100 or more before you know it.

Action: contact your first 5 people and trust that the rest will spring out from there.

Frogs live everywhere

Eventually you need to get as close as possible to the demographic that your software idea is for.  It’s no use asking college students if your idea is for pensioners, after all.

At first though, just focus on talking to whoever is accessible to you. You can hone in more precisely later. The main thing at this stage is getting further introductions each time you talk to someone new.

Action: define your demographic and see if you know 5 people who fit into it. If not, make a list of people or places you know that could be your way in.

Get creative about how you gather your subjects. People are surprisingly happy to talk about themselves if you make it fun. Yes, you can offer people rewards for their time. Or you can just start with people you know and gather data informally.

A big questionnaire with consistent data is great, but it’s amazing how far a few conversations and notes can be enough for now.

Action: decide what you want to ask people and keep it roughly the same every time. If you want to freestyle more, make sure you record the responses anyway so you can compare them at the end.

Ask frogs the right questions

A frog is not necessarily someone who will pay for your idea in future, it is the person whose pain your idea is here to solve. Your questions need to address that pain.

Never make the mistake of asking your frogs what they ‘like’ or ‘want’. Meeting ‘likes’ is not the same curing ‘pain’. This is a slippery slope to having your frogs just agree with your hypotheses, instead of leading you to adjust your idea in the right way.

Action: get clear on the difference between your users (those who will use your product or services) and your customers (those who will pay for it). Test your questions to make sure you’re not simply leading people to agree with you.