What’s the best way to ask for feedback?

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Anchoring can sink you

The thing is, we do this outside of negotiation, whenever we ask for insight. If someone says, “”can you review this slide deck?”” there are a bunch of anchors already built in. Anchor: there are slides. Anchor: there are six slides. Anchor: the slides have text on them. Before we can even have a conversation about whether or not there should even be a presentation, or whether the content is worth presenting, we’re already anchored into slides and … (read more)

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
A Question You Should Ask Every Day | Inc.com

I’ve used this question for decades on people I meet at work, always with excellent results:Just out of curiosity, what do you like best about your job?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How would you feel if you were asked to write a self-evaluation like this? | A Founder’s Notebook

Here are the questions I just sent to my direct reports as the first stage of their mid-year review: (a) What’s the thing you’re best at? How much of your time is spent on it? (b) Name one thing you don’t enjoy that you’re spending significant time on. How can we eliminate the need for you to do it? (c) What is your most important work goal, and how should you / we re-organize your time to better achieve it? (d) Which person in the company do yo… (read more)

Jason Stirman (Early Twitter Employee)
How Medium Is Building a New Kind of Company with No Managers | First Round Review

When you sit across a table from someone, ask them “”Whats going on in your life?”” That will always remove more hurdles than asking them “”Whats blocking you at work?””

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The one question you wish your manager would ask you | A Founder’s Notebook

[Ask] “”what’s your biggest pain point?”” Somehow we / they never do ask.

Should I hire a growth hacker/growth engineer?

Does anyone like your product so much that they spontaneously recommend it to other people?

 

BrainQuilt
  • “A startup that prematurely targets a growth goal often ends up making a nebulous product that some users sort of like and papering over this with ‘growth hacking’.  That sort of works—at least, it will fool investors for awhile until they start digging into retention numbers—but eventually the music stops.” — Sam Altman, Y Combinator
  • “There’s an initial period of slow or no growth while the startup tries to figure out what it’s doing. As the startup figures out how to make something lots of people want and how to reach those people, there’s a period of rapid growth.” — Paul Graham, Y Combinator
  • “Leaky buckets don’t need more water, they need their holes fixed. It’s a rookie mistake to focus on customer acquisition instead of customer retention, especially early in a startup’s life.  Talk to people instead of banging on a keyboard.” — Kissmetrics
  • “I think the right initial metric is “do any users love our product so much they spontaneously tell other people to use it?”  Until that’s a “yes”, founders are generally better off focusing on this instead of a growth target.” — Sam Altman, Y Combinator
  • “Are users using your product more than once? Are your users fanatical about your product? Would your users be truly bummed if your company went away? If you’re a B2B company, do you have at least 10 paying customers? If not, we tell companies to make their product better.” — Sam Altman, Y Combinator
  • “At some point, there was a very noticeable change in how Stripe felt. It tipped from being this boulder we had to push to being a train car that in fact had its own momentum.” — Patrick Collison, Stripe

 

More information

Growth is just a function of [# visitors] * [% that convert to users] * [% that stay users].

The secret is that although you need all three of these variables to grow to drive your business, if you don’t fix the [% that stay users] part, the other two don’t matter at all. See David Jackson’s How low retention of customers and suppliers bankrupted Homejoy for a detailed anecdote.

If you haven’t hit the “spontaneous recommendation” threshold, you may be tempted to spend some money to acquire users to “learn”, but most likely your time would be better spent going out and physically installing users and getting their feedback. (See Paul Graham’s Do Things that Don’t Scale).  >> How can I interview customers to create a better product or service?

If you have, then digging into what type of users recommend your product and making it easier for them is the next step.  >> Who are my power users and how can I get more of them?

What is the best way to create your brand?

The best advice we’ve found is from: Gibson Biddle and Seth Godin

Gibson Biddle

A brand is the unique story that consumers recall when they think of you. This story associates your product with your customers’ personal stories, a particular personality, what you promise to solve, and your position relative to your competitors. All human aspirations are opportunities for brands to build relationships.

Answer these four questions about your company:

What is it? Be descriptive and speak from the customer’s point of view.

What are the benefits? What does the product do for customers? How will people feel after they’ve used your product?  Again from the customer’s point of view. The difference between good and great brands is that they define emotional benefits and “something bigger” that they deliver.

What is its personality? If your product, company or service was human and you met at a cocktail party, how would you describe him/her?

Ask again, how will it make people feel? Emotion is the bridge between how the product will benefit the consumer and how the company will benefit the world. To reference Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Tighten it up by doing these steps:

Describe it to a sixth grader. Aim to be succinct and clear. Pretend you’re speaking with a sixth-grader. Your customers are busy so they don’t have time to parse fuzzy concepts. Your goal is not to dumb it down, but to tighten it up.

Cut it down to three words. , Choose three of the four words describing their service so the team wouldn’t just list words, but carefully prioritize them. For example  “convenient,” “healthy,” and “variety.”

There’s typically one fuzzy word in the bunch. Find that abstract word and dig deeper into it. For example, unpack variety to arrive at choice and then selection by asking “Why is there variety?” — then choose which is best for you.

Introduce your company like you would a person.  If you met your company at a party, how would you describe it?. For example, Naturebox pitched the company’s personality as “a crowdpleaser” and “relatable.” What does a crowdpleaser do — how would he or she act at a party? The company is relatable in what way?” The teams reframed Naturebox’s personality as “friendly and personable” and “down-to-earth.”

Create your something bigger. What is the something bigger that will improve customers’ lives? For Netflix it is to escape from reality. For Nike, it is to reach your full human potential.

Decide on one word to own. Companies that have successfully positioned their brand own a specific word in a consumer’s mind. Honda is reliability, Mercedes is luxury, Volvo is safety, BMW is performance and Tesla is innovative. Ten years from now, what word do you want to own?

Combine all of this into a concept summary. The goal is to put your work from the above into something that that  you can use to begin a conversation with customers.

Here is a sample concept summary for Netflix: Sometimes it’s hard to find a movie everyone can enjoy on a Friday night. For individuals and families with internet access, Netflix instantly streams an unlimited number of TV shows and movies, anytime, anywhere. Simply search, browse and watch on the easy-to-use website, mobile apps, apps on game platforms and hundreds of Internet-connected devices. With one-click anyone can watch ad-free, HD quality, TV shows and movies. It’s month-to-month and you can cancel anytime. We offer a one month free trial. Netflix, it’s movie enjoyment made easy.

The last line is your tagline. Netflix, it’s movie enjoyment made easy. Your tagline is what you’re known for and becomes the key deciding truth for prioritizing tasks. Should we do this? Does it help us make movie enjoyment easier?

Refine, refine refine. This may look easy because these are the ideas that clearly resonated with customers from past examples, but these have been refined through brand and product over the last 5-10 years.

see more from Gibson Biddle

 

SETH GODIN

Pick some edges: No one cares about boring. We care about the extremes. When you make compromises (and you will), don’t compromise the edges that matter. Are you…

Open or Closed

Easy or Difficult

Rights or Responsibilities

Take or Give

Fake or Real

Fast or Slow

Affordable or Luxury

Cutting edge or Proven

New or Classic

Disposable or Durable

*Make full choices It is often helpful to take each of the things you are (or want to be) and then add what you are not. If you are experienced, you are not a novice.

Reframe what you are not in a positive light. If you are not a novice, then you are not a blank slate, a fresh page.

Reframe what you are in a negative light. If you are experienced, you have preconceived notions. You are less open to new concepts.

Package the good and bad into a character. Experienced and less open to new concepts => A sage expert with a set of beliefs. Novice and open book => a young upstart open to possibility. Which character do you aspire to be?

*items added by OURSITENAME

see more from Seth Godin

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What is the best way to name a company?

The best advice we’ve found is from:

SETH GODIN

A name is a peg that people use to hang all the attributes of your business. The LESS it has to do with your category, the better. If you call yourself International Postal Consultants, there’s a lot less room to hang other attributes. Some names I like? Starbucks. Nike. Apple.

Focus on what the words remind you of, not what they mean. The structure of the words, the way they sound, the memes they recall…  This is all very irrational, artsy fartsy stuff, and it’s also important. “HRKom” doesn’t sound like the same kind of company as, say, “Jeteye”. The entire point of “secondary meaning” is that the first meaning doesn’t matter at all (especially since you picked a name with no meaning to begin with). Over time, a surprisingly short time, your unique word, especially if it sounds right, will soon be the one and only word.

Don’t obsess about getting a short web name. I think many of these rules have changed, largely because of the way people use Google. Flickr is a good name. So is 37signals. The design firm Number 17, however, is not. Do a Yahoo search on radar and you won’t find the magazine or the website in the making.

Please pick a real english word, or a string of them. Axelon and Altus are bad. Jet Blue, Ambient and Amazon are good.

Find a name that came up with close to zero Google matches. Sort of a built-in SEO strategy. Do a Yahoo search on radar and you won’t find the magazine or the website in the making, and do a search on simple and you won’t end up at the very expensive simple.com domain. You will also have far fewer trademark hassles. The only English language matches I found for Squidoo were for a style of fishing lure.

Be sure it’s easy to spell AND pronounce. Prius is a bad name. I can’t tell anyone to buy a Prius because I’m embarrassed I’ll say it wrong.

Don’t use a placeholder name. People will fall in love with it. Find your name, use that name and that’s it.

Don’t listen to what your friends and neighbors and colleagues tell you about a name. All your friends will hate it. GOOD. They would have hated Starbucks too (you want to name your store after something from Moby Dick!??) If your friends like it, run.

Some actionable tips:

  • Using the fantastic NameBoy service (also a great name), I found thousands of available domains that managed to sound right and were unique. It took more than a month.
  • All the obvious and most of the silly dot com choices were taken a very long time ago. Time for wordoid. Scroll down on the left, put a short word in the ‘pattern’ box and off you go.
  • Use a stock photo CD and find cool pictures that match your name BEFORE you pick the name. If you can find a bunch of $30 images that work with a name, grab the pictures, then the name.

see more from Seth Godin

 

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