Conducting customer discovery interviews is one of the quickest ways to validate products and new features. However, recruiting relevant users to interview can be challenging and time-consuming. In this guide, I will cover how to identify and recruit new users to interview.

Start with your ideal customer profile (ICP)

While it may seem obvious, it is crucial to identify your target audience before attempting to find them. Therefore, you must begin by clearly defining your ideal customer profile (ICP). It is important to avoid focusing on multiple ICPs, as reaching out to diverse target groups can result in significantly varied feedback that may pull you in conflicting directions.

Map down your ICP’s online behavior

Once you have a clear definition of your ICP, it’s time to identify their online behaviors. While many of us visit similar websites online, your ICP is likely to have specific websites and online communities they follow due to personal or professional interests. It is essential to think beyond the obvious choices and conduct thorough research.

For instance, you can initiate your research by analyzing the profiles, pages, and groups that your ICP follows on LinkedIn. Additionally, exploring where your ICP may express their opinions online can provide valuable insights. Don’t limit your research to conventional sources. You might uncover popular online webinars, courses, GitHub repositories, or subreddits where you can connect with your ICP.

As different the business propositions are from each other, as many ICP’s are out there. If you are selling ‘Sustainable weekly meal plan’, your ideal customer probably is interested in cooking and can be found in various Facebook communities or are following specific Instagram influencers. On the other hand if you are selling a B2B product to Product Managers, they would probably be found on Linkedin. It is not only important where your ICP is online, but what is their intent and state of mind while they are there.

Map down your ICP’s offline behavior

Once you have identified their online behaviors, it’s time to explore their offline behaviors—where they spend their time in the real world, preferably during working hours or at work-related events. Again, it’s important not to limit your research to conventional methods. Although stepping into the real world may push you beyond your comfort zone, meeting people in person can have a significant impact on the trust and relationships you establish through outreach.

For instance, if you want to target recruiters, you might discover a major industry event dedicated to recruitment. Consider purchasing a ticket to the event and make an effort to network with as many attendees as possible. Approach different booths and engage in conversations. In most interactions, people will ask about your professional background, allowing you to naturally introduce your startup into the conversation. If they show interest, you can propose a customer discovery interview. While it may be tempting to invest in a booth and other resources, it is advisable to adopt a scrappy approach initially, testing various strategies in a cost-effective manner.

Leverage existing ICP’s

One of the most overlooked methods for obtaining more customer discovery interviews is simply asking your current customers for referrals. If you ensure that the customer discovery experience is enjoyable and engaging for participants, most of them will be more than happy to suggest others in their network whom you can reach out to. You would be surprised by the number of referrals you can acquire through this approach. It is not uncommon for someone to open doors to multiple highly relevant ICPs for you to engage with. However, it is crucial to remember that no one wants to refer you if you do not provide a great interview experience. Therefore, make it worthwhile for them, valuable enough to ensure they feel comfortable introducing you to people in their network.

For instance, at the end of the customer discovery interview, you can ask participants if they know anyone within your ICP whom they would recommend you speak with. When reaching out to these referrals, you can mention the person who recommended them, thereby increasing the credibility of your outreach and improving the chances of securing the interview. Additionally, in certain cases, you can kindly ask if they would be willing to introduce you to that person via email. Introductions made through email often yield incredibly high response rates.

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