Steve Blank - Customer Archetype

We always talk about how we "bend" ourselves to adapt our product to the customer. But what if you are still quite far at the beginning? The archetype customer is the perfect solution.

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After an idea and before the market stands the implementation. But how can I implement something if I don't yet know exactly who my customer will be? Of course I can start developing and make some mistakes and burn some money. Surely it is difficult to develop something that will also be directly received by the market. So what can we do in such a case? We can "carve" the perfect customer and turn him into our customer archetype. Perfect in this case does not mean a notorious yes-man, it is more about developing the customer who is critical and has very precise requirements for my product. To simplify this, you can talk to potential future customers, collaborate with universities or commission companies to initiate market surveys.

It is very important that we provide accurate information when we do this. Here I go back to our own startup alugha.

Advantages and disadvantages from the customer's point of view

The advantages would be that videos would be available in many languages and thus the customers could be reached purposefully in their native language. He would no longer need to work with marketing agencies, translation agencies or dubbing studios. Everything would come from a single source. The costs would decrease considerably .

Disadvantages would be that he would have to take care of speakers, translators, etc. himself. Although it would be easier on the platform, he would have an extra effort. He also lacks the theoretically possible reach via YouTube.

What work does the customer want to do with it?

What does our customer actually want to achieve with our system? Does he want to have reach? Does he want to give support? Does he want to push his marketing? Should it be an image campaign? Does he want to become more independent of suppliers? There are countless options which our model customer would want to do with our product. The workflow plays a decisive role.



What are the functional or emotional tasks to be done?

If our customer only wants to drive YouTube campaigns, then we don't suit him, this customer will always be there. If our client runs a school in a remote location, he needs a simple interface, preferably offline features, educational content...

The collected knowledge is then compiled for the model customer, broken down into individual sub-projects and finally an end product defined. As you can already see in the specifications, it makes sense to define several scenarios/sample customers in order to start with the lowest common denominator and implement the necessary individual functions from there. Gradually a first product can be created, which we can then in a next step, take to real potential customers and optimize further with their feedback.

In the beginning we made exactly this mistake - conditionally - we were our model customer. Of course we knew exactly what we wanted, after all I had produced and published over 500 video tutorials with several million views and I always knew what bothered me about YouTube and what MY viewers wanted.  But I was just a very small piece in that giant puzzle. I should only have been the very first "model customer" and then we would have had to build further scenarios very quickly. Our first "complete" alugha version hardly exists today and almost all elements have been replaced or removed. From programming languages to websites, servers, cloud storage and much more.

Of course we learned a lot from this and continued to pursue product evolution, but looking back, we could certainly have saved 6-12 months of time and money if we had proceeded like this early on. The money is not even the really annoying aspect, but rather the fact that we had taken our rather tight team through this work from our own resources and thus could have gradually implemented functions that could have been part of it a long time ago. This can go so far that you are simply too late with your own product!


Think about your customers as early as possible and then develop your product! If it's "just" software, you may get the hang of it faster, but if you develop a "solid" product, which your customers don't want, it will be very expensive. And believe me, there are countless examples of this, not only from startups! Even companies worth billions are still making these mistakes.


This article is written by our CEO, Bernd Korz. With his experience as an entrepreneur, he shares his vision about the lessons provided by Steve Blank. Join us every week for a new article on Steve Blank’s lectures.

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