How to get customers to help build your product

Posted on Jul 10, 2012 - 9:00 AM PST

This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Emmett Shear.

Emmett Shear wanted to get into the gaming space but didn’t know where to start, so he got input from content producers and built a platform that now has 17 million unique monthly viewers. It was all done by talking to prospects, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Emmett is a co-founder of Justin.tv and is the general manager of TwitchTV, a broadcasting and chat community which features commentary and video from top gaming personalities, players, tournaments, and leagues.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Do research on your target users to know who you should be talking to

Emmett studied TwitchTV’s target users and talked to different verticals, including video on demand versus live-stream viewers, console versus PC gamers, and amateur versus professional broadcasters.

Take Action:
Research your target users’ preferences, list people you personally know who might be interested in your product, and find more prospects from competitors and sites that offer related services.


2. Call prospects to understand them and figure out what they want

Emmett asked Justin.tv broadcasters how they used the service, which features they liked, and what they’d change about it to determine what their passions and pain points were, then built TwitchTV based on their responses.

Take Action:
From your list of prospects, call at least four of them by phone or using Skype, ask about their motivations and the pains they’ve experienced, and rephrase your questions if needed to get more specific answers.


3. Identify your target users’ pain points to come up with a targeted solution

TwitchTV users found it difficult to monetize their streams, so Emmett created the TwitchTV partner program and provided hi-res channel statistics that they could use to sell sponsorships.

Take Action:
Try out your service yourself to spot features that need improvement, get feedback from users to see what they might have issues with, and introduce features that will solve their problems.


4. Get feedback from prospects to see which features they want the most

Emmett listed suggestions he got from talking to prospects and asked users to vote on which ones they wanted based on how useful or critical the features were.

Take Action:
Compile your own feature ideas and suggestions from prospects in a spreadsheet, and ask users for feedback by having them vote on it or by doing a survey.


5. Interview users so you can decide which features to develop

After users voted on the features they wanted, Emmett did a second round of interviews to get feedback on the top 10 feature ideas and decide which ones to develop for TwitchTV.

Take Action:
Interview the users you talked with earlier, follow up on their concerns, and get their opinions on the top 10 feature ideas.


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6. Continually remove hurdles to improve your product and user experience

Emmett removed hurdles that TwitchTV users experienced, from configuration and audio problems to discovery and monetizing their stream.

Take Action:
After you launch, call users regularly to get feedback, attend events to keep up with trends in your industry, and add features to improve your product and solve problems users have.


Want to make sure you get results?

Written by Hazel Chua, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

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