#76/111: Four Steps to the Epiphany

What is it about?

Do I really need to introduce this book? You probably know Steve Blank, you probably know Customer Development by now. In this book he talks about the whole process of finding your market product fit.

What can I learn?

Understand your market type: There are different market types and each one needs different strategies. There are new markets, niche markets and existing markets. This sounds trivial but isn’t well understood. A common mistake is to act like in an existing market if you are really (creating) a new market. For example, you investing millions in mass advertising even if you are creating a new market. This won’t work. Remember the Technology Adaption Cycle!

Understand your customer: Yes, you know this by now. However there are some one cool questions. If you want to know if your prospects has a real problem ask if them would deploy your product if it was free. If they say no, you are quite sure that they won’t be your customers so soon. The second cool question helps you to find out how much they would pay. Ask them if they would pay $1,000,000 ($1,000 for B2C products) for your product. Often they will say “Sorry, but we could pay $600,000 at max.” – Bingo! If they say yes, you have to increase the amount the next time.

Learn, Learn, Learn: A startup is about learning. Learning about your market, learning about your company, learning about your customers. There are no standardized methods for your new market. Learning about your market is the purpose of your startup. After you have discovered enough, you can grow and establish processes. This is where you leave your startup phase and become a “real” company.


Four Steps to the Epiphany is actually really nice. Steve Blanks describes each step in detail and provides lots of work sheets. He focuses mostly on expensive B2B software solutions. You have probably to adjust some methods for B2C or mass-market B2B products. Great book.

#39/111: Think Outside the Inbox

What is it about?

David Cummings and Adam Blitzer explain how to automate your sales process and how marketing automation can save you time and increase your customer count.

Key points?

Segment your customers: It’s nothing new to segment your customers into age, location or job occupation. But you could also segment your customers into their willingness to buy. They propose to add scores for each customer on which they get treated differently. For example, you could give someone +10 points, if he enters his email address or +25 if he downloads the trial. This allows you to tailor individual action to each willingness segment.

Join your customer informations: Most companies got a CRM, website analytics, bid on Adwords and maybe work with salesforce.com. It’s important to collect all data and make it more useful. If you connect your CRM and website analytics, you can ask people why they don’t use your website anymore or offer upgrades for power users. But beware, it shouldn’t be too creepy.

Drip marketing: In Referral Engine I presented this concept at first. It’s about staying in touch with your customers and prospects. You can send them useful information, offer specials or invite them to webinars. It becomes especially powerful if you use it with customer segmentation. You could take people with low willingness scores into a nurture program where you offer them useful information and slowly build a relationship.


There are some really cool ideas which only a few companies use today. I think these tools are extremely powerful and you should really consider starting to employ them. Think Outside the Inbox is not really a how to guide but maybe there is one. If you know one, please comment on this post. Thanks!