Day 113: What a difference it makes when we stop talking and start listening

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

Two weeks into the pre-launch campaign and Tinkerdash had over 70 email sign-ups via its landing page, plus over 30 bloggers interested in reviewing the service. It would be easy to get a handful of people signed up for a one-month pilot, right? Not quite. Here’s what happened:

Starting with the 70+ email subscribers, I sent out an invitation to trial Tinkerdash, as shown below. This was following a series of other emails including a reminder to keep sharing their unique referral link and how Tinkerdash works. This was all done using MailChimp.


People feigned an interest, however, when it came down to starting their trial, they seemed unwilling to commit. I couldn’t figure out why.

Likewise, it was proving difficult to get five bloggers to commit to starting the review. I’d constructed an eleven-question survey using SurveyMonkey and was asking bloggers to complete it. People were responsive to emails but it was taking a tremendous amount of time for them to complete the survey, if at all.

After having a weekend off, and some much needed time to reflect, I recalled a passage from a book that I’d recently been recommended called the Mom Test. The passage read:

“You aren’t allowed to tell them [the user] what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, you own the solution.”

Perhaps I’d fallen back into the trap of trying to prescribe the customer’s problem without properly listening to them. And looking at the evidence, I think this was true. The invitational email and survey were both prescriptive and never once asked people what they actually wanted help with.

So, that Monday, I stopped sending the invitational email and survey started simply asking people these four simple questions:

  1. How would you describe your weekly grocery shopping routine? For example, who you shop for, where you typically shop and how.
  2. What are your biggest pains when it comes to grocery shopping? (I.e. how might we help you.)
  3. Tinkerdash provides people with their own virtual assistant, who can help you with almost any grocery shopping tasks you wish. If you had access to an assistant, how would you use them?
  4. Finally, how would you feel about letting somebody else shop for you?

Before I knew it, I had over ten responses, each littered with golden nuggets of information. Some people said they’d be uncomfortable with someone else ordering their shopping, others loved the idea in order to save time.

Based on people’s responses, I was able to suggest a solution to meet their needs. For example, for some people, I’d suggest starting with just a meal plan for them and their family. For others, I’d suggest we help with everything, through to ordering their food via their favourite online supermarket.

Within three days, five bloggers were using Tinkerdash, all communicating with their Tinkerdash assistant via Facebook Messenger. What a difference it makes when we stop talking and start listening!

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