As I’ve presented the concept of Developing a Crush Club for your business, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback… actually so much feedback that I want to dedicate one entire page to defining this essential tool for Start-Ups (or for that matter, existing businesses looking to innovate).
Definition of Crush Club: A group of individuals (potential customers) that currently have problems or needs that your company/product/service can solve. These individuals are actively trying to solve these problems/needs and are willing to actually PAY you for a solution. They also buy into the overall dream of what your company or product will be in the future, and are willing to BUY a semi-finished product that will meet their basic needs while giving you the funding to further develop the solution to better solve their problems or needs.
What a Crush Club is NOT:
- A Focus group.
- A group to do a Beta Test.
- A group of past customers that you meet to make a sales pitch to and sell your vision to.
What a Crush Club Does: Helps the owner Get out of their office and in front of customers to replace the owners Assumptions with Facts.
You will learn 3 things:
1. Does this group of potential customers have a Real NEED that you can solve?
3. How this group would want you to build a business/product/service to solve their need.
2. Does this group of potential customers like your idea enough to actually spend money on it to solve their need?
The goal of the Crush Club is to provide the owner with enough feedback from potential customers, prior to development, so that they can be confident that on the launch date that the product/business will meet the customer’s needs and have actually have customers. Each Startup is different, but I’d recommend shooting for up to 50 people in your Crush Club (that number might seem high, but it will force you to get out and talk to people). For your startup you might only need 10 to determine what your Minimum Viable Product is, but that number is dependent on you and how many customers you need on Day 1 of your business or product launch.
I know exactly what you’re thinking though… “Right now I don’t know enough people that could be in my Crush Club.” Well, you don’t need to… at least yet. Begin the process by listing 3 people that are your Potential Customers and then go from there. You will have coffee with each member of your Crush Club to get their honest feedback on your idea. Less of you Talking… More of you Listening! Then if you have a real solution to their needs, they will gladly give you other people just like them so that you to have coffee with them to get feedback (not sell).
To begin, you might want to just post in your Facebook Profile something like this: “In the next 20 days I want to meet 20 _____ people, and buy them a cup of coffee to get their feedback on a new business idea that I’ve been working on.” That’s a great place to start and will provide you with your first round of Crush Clubbers.
From there set up a meeting with that person at a convenient location and here is a step-by-step outline of what you should do in each Crush Club Meeting.
Always remember… You might have a great idea, but if you have No Customers, then you have No Business… You’re not selling your idea, you’re looking to find out what these potential customers will actually want to buy from you. It’s simple. They talk, you listen.
What you will need at a Crush Club Meeting: A notebook with blank sheets of paper and a pen… have this open on your table as you meet the person. Include their name on top with the date and possibly the person who referred you if needed. You will not need a computer to show your website or developed product samples. (Your 2nd meeting can involved pre-done diagrams or working examples)
Here are 10 Steps for a Perfect Crush Club Meeting:
(For more on this please check out my post on Coffee Meetings)
1. Contact Potential Customers and ask them for feedback on an idea that you are working on (see facebook profile update idea above)… you can tell them that you would really value their feedback on an idea that pertains to (insert their field of expertise and why they might work with you). Tell them that you assume that they are busy, so ask if they would have time within the next month to grab a cup of coffee and take 30 minutes to run over an idea with you. (Coffee or lunch is appropriate) Of course, let them know that you plan to pay… they will love hearing this.
2. On the day of your meeting, show up at least 15-30 minutes early. Set it up at a neutral location- preferably a coffee shop and purchase a drink and sit down to “look busy” working on anything that can be quickly put away when they walk through the doors. When they arrive, stand up and greet them. Make the necessary small talk and tell them how excited you are to see them. You can say that you got there a bit early toget a table, then walk them up to the counter with your coffee in hand. Remind them that you plan to pay as you pull out your preferred payment method. Right after they order, and before you pay, look at the bakery display and ask if they’d like anything else. They will probably say “No,” but you offered and they are now open to the meeting.
3. When you sit down again, continue to make small talk, then open your notebook (to signal that you’d like to start) and subtly change topics and say “well, I’m excited to get to grab coffee with you, and as I said, I have an idea that I wanted to run by you to get your feedback.” Now you can proceed.
4. Describe why the need that you want to address and why you thought of starting the business. Then describe why you believe that this person can give you great feedback. It might go something like this: “Well, about six months ago I visited my doctor and had to wait the longest time in the waiting room. After I finally saw the doctor I thought about my visit and my time in the waiting room. Instantly it hit me… (insert your idea). So Dr. ______, from talking to a lot of doctors I realize that this situation can be common in most offices and if there was only a system that could (insert idea), then the doctor could make a lot more money. I wanted to see what you think about this idea that I have for solving this…”
5. Now your goal is to find out if this assumed need is real in their lives. Ask them what they think of your idea and if this problem is something that they can relate with. On the top of the page, write down in big text the Problems or Needs that you assume, then as you present your idea that could be a solution take notes of any important things your Crush Club Member says. You can ask them, “If I were to build a business that could meet these needs for you, what would you like to see it doing?”
6. Now, this will be the hardest step, but the most beneficial for you. After hearing all of their ideas, look at your notes and say something like this: “Well, that’s great feedback… I love how you think! Ok, let’s say we could build a company that could (insert 2-3 things that they want), would you implement it in your business today if it was Free?” If they say “Yes,” then move on to Step 8. If they say “No,” then go back to step 5 and figure out what their needs are again and ask them “Well, how do you think we could better solve a problem like you described before?” this will give you feedback and then in Step 6 you will hear their solutions again. In Step 7 you will again see if they are willing to implement it today if it was Free.
7. Once they agree that your business idea is good and they are willing to implement it for Free, now go in with the next question… “Ok, that sounds good, well, let’s say we could (insert problem/solution ideas), do you think you would be willing to spend (fill in the blank with your first idea of how much you’d like to charge) for this type of product/service?” If they say “Yes,” then add an appropriate dollar amount until they flinch or say “No.” If they flinch, then you will need to inquire about reasons that they are hesitant and then go re-emphasize the price that they just confirmed.
So it would go like this: “Well, Dr. James, if we could do “X, Y and Z” would you use it today if it was Free? Ok, that sounds good. Well, let’s say we could do “X, Y and Z” for you but it would cost $ (First Number) would you still want to use it? (They agree) Ok, that sounds good. Well, let’s just assume, because we don’t know how much this will cost to develop yet, but that it will cost $ (Second Number), would you still want to use it? (They say no, or flinch) Oh, you’re probably right, that might be too much, (First Number) is probably good if it will solve “XYZ.” Any other thoughts?”
8. By this point in the meeting you will know:
A. That your Assumptions are either true or not true, but have identified their needs.
B. 2-3 solutions they think will help. (The bare minimum for you to debut at launch)
C. How much they are willing to pay for these solutions.
With this knowledge, you will want to circle it with your pen in BIG Circles to emphasize the important feedback that this person truly values. This will help you define your Minimum Viable Product, or most-basic launch requirements.
9. Close the meeting by asking if they know anyone else that might be interested in helping you develop this idea a little more and see if you can get 2-3 referrals that you will take out for coffee also. After receiving referrals, stand up and thank them for their time and ask if you can take them out for coffee in about a month or so (whatever timeline is appropriate), once you have had time to talk to more people and develop a better idea of what this could look like. They will love that you tried to understand their situation and listened to their ideas, plus you might actually build a product that helps them out! They will gladly tell you to contact them and will look forward to your call.
10. Follow up with an email thanking them for their time and again, reiterate the points that they made (this lets them know that you actually listened) and tell them that you will keep them in the loop on the progress. End by reminding them that they can pass the info of anyone else that they can think add feedback to the idea and letting them know that you will look forward to meeting up again soon.
There it is. The Crush Club in 10 Steps. The big thing for you to realize is that it can look good on paper, but now you need to get out and do it. Listen to customers and they’ll tell you what kind of business to build. Instead of hoping to have customers, you will have customers on the first day you open your doors. That will make being the Boss a lot easier!
I’d love to hear your Crush Club stories!