Rowland Carlson

The Mom Test

The Mom Test

ISBN: 978-1492180746
Date read: 2022-07-08
Recommended for: People with ideas they want to validate or who want to understand how others live.
(See my list of books, for more.)

You can buy it here.

Don't pitch your idea. Listen for how they live. Compliments are poison.

my notes

Talking to customers isn't enough.
Doing it well is a skill.

A bad customer conversation leads you astray.
While it convinces you that you're right.

Don't ask people if your business ideas are good.
People will lie to save face.
Find the truth through questions, not charity.

A useful customer conversation
uncovers concrete details about their life and viewpoint.

A vague idea can't expose tradeoffs,
highlight concerns,
or make assumptions.

Find out if people care,
Not by asking for feedback,
But by learning about how they live.

The Mom Test:
Talk about their life.
Ask about specifics in the past

Opinions are worthless.
So don't ask for them.

The motivations and constraints behind requests are crucial.

Questions worth asking:
Why do you bother?
What are the implications of that?
Talk me through the last time that happened.
What else have you tried?
(Similar to "And what else?" from the Coaching Habit)
How are you dealing with it now?
Where does the money come from?
Who else should I talk to?
Is there anything else I should have asked?

You aren't allowed to tell them what their problem is.

Don't get distracted by customer compliments.
They won't help you build something useful.

Excitement about the future often exceeds action once that future arrives.

Questions to be wary of, they often result in fluff responses:
Would you ever?
Do you ever...
What do you usually?
Do you think you?
Might you?
Could you see yourself?

Talk about what actually happened.
Find who they are, not who they want to be.
Hunt for the edge cases.

Find a pragmatist in pain.

Questions to dig into feature requests:
Why do you want that?
What would that let you do?
How are you coping without it?
Do you think we should push back the launch to add that feature,
or is it something we could add later?
How would that fit into your day?

Questions to dig into emotional signals:
Tell me more about that.
That seems to really bug you - I bet there's a story here.
What makes it so awful?
Why haven't you been able to fix this already?
You seem pretty excited about that - it's a big deal?
Why so happy?
Go on.

Ideas and feature requests should be understood, but not obeyed.

If an unexpected answer doesn't change your behavior,
It wasn't an important question.

What are the three things you would like to learn from them?
Know what they are before you enter the room.

Ask important questions without formality.
There doesn't have to be a meeting for a conversation to be useful.
Don't plan a meeting, just ask.

Every meeting succeeds or fails.
This implies that every meeting has a goal.
Did I meet that goal?

Once you have something to sell,
Seek commitment.
Rejection isn't failure, not asking is.

If it's something you both care about,
Find an excuse to chat.

How to use a landing page:
Start conversations by emailing hello to every person who signs up.
Qualitative over quantitative.

Organize your own meetup.
Especially if you're moving to a new area or industry.

If you want to get to a hard to reach audience,
Create a way for them to talk to each other about the topic you care about.

Don't be afraid to ask the people around you for warm introductions.

For meetings:
Share you vision.
Frame expectations.
Show weakness and specify a problem that you need help with.
Show them how they can help.
Explicitly ask for help.

Keep talking to people until you stop hearing new information.

Focus on wowing a specific niche.
Don't build a mediocre product for everyone.

Within this subgroup, who wants it most?

Choose customers you enjoy being around.