Product-market fit research: Getting started

If you’ve been hustling for a while, you know how important it is to make your product as per your user’s expectations. You must have done market research before you started, but that’s not enough. You need to constantly listen to the voice of your customer and engage in continuous product-market fit research to be successful. 

Source: Giphy

You must be thinking about how to start product market research for your product. This article will share simple ways to start PMF research and validation at every step of your startup journey. But before we begin, let’s look at some fundamentals first. 

Four stages of product-market fit.  

Product market fit is an ideal situation where you have a product that precisely addresses the market need. So, you get a constant incoming stream of new customers through word of mouth, referrals, PR, and organic growth, which leads to incremental revenues. Here are the four stages to achieving product-market fit: 

  • Ideation: Coming up with the initial idea for your product or service
  • Validation: Validating your idea and fitting your solution to the customer’s problem
  • Scaling: Scaling your product with a repeatable selling motion
  • Achieving Product-market fit: The desired outcome that starts an organic growth engine. 

What do you need to do at every stage of the PMF journey? 

You must have read blogs on achieving product market fit that preaches long processes and frameworks. But we won’t do that in this article. Instead, we will share some simple tips and activities you must perform at every stage to move further in your PMF journey. So, let’s get started: 

At the ideation stage. 

You must have heard a million times on Reels & TikToks — your idea means nothing without execution. But that doesn’t mean you need to overlook the ideation stage. Instead, it is an excellent opportunity to get closer to your customer from the beginning. Plus, don’t forget that PMF involves understanding the market. Knowing your customer from the start goes a long way in achieving PMF. Here’s what you should do at the ideation stage: 

At the validation stage. 

The validation stage involves reaching out to your customers and validating the need for your business idea in the market. Basically, gathering opinions and pivoting to a model where customers are ready to pay for the service. 

Interestingly, the validation stage is closely linked to the entire PMF cycle — you are trying to kickstart product discovery and move accordingly. Here’s what you should do at the validation stage of your startup: 

  • Start testing your MVP by reaching out to customers
  • Conduct interviews, keep an eye on reviews
  • Gather & analyze feedback 
  • Make informed decisions regarding product features, pricing, marketing, channels, etc. 

At the scaling stage. 

Once you’ve conducted the PMF surveys and gathered feedback, you must have got necessary insight to begin product discovery. This will help you fulfill customer needs, and you will be somewhere closer to achieving product market fit.

Users will start coming in organically; there will be online chatter about your product, and customers will leave reviews for your products, bringing more customers. But don’t mistake this stage as PMF. Instead, this is the time to scale up your efforts and get more insights from a larger pool of users/customers. Here’s what you should keep doing at this stage: 

  • Create an NPS survey and share it with your customers 
  • Conduct Sean Ellis Test among your audience again
  • Gather insights and keep improvising till you reach the desired growth metrics

Did you know you can use GapScout to scan online reviews and get daily insights about what your customers want? 

Once you achieve product-market fit. 

If you’ve read our blog on the PMF framework, you know when 40% or more customers feel very disappointed if your product ceases to exist, you’ve achieved a product-market fit. 

Read More: Achieving Product-Market Fit

Your work as a founder/marketer doesn’t end at the PMF. Instead, this is when you need deeper insights into becoming a truly customer-centric startup.

Once you’ve scaled, you have access to a more diverse user base and must start a continuous discovery engine powered by customer insights. Here’s how you can do that: 

Useful metrics to analyze product-market fit. 

Performing product-market fit research by looking at analytics on a piece of paper

You must perform different activities during product-market fit research. Most activities involve market research about your audience and addressing their pain points through products. But how do you know that you are on the right path? Well, you should keep an eye on a few metrics, scores, and parameters during your PMF journey. These include: 

Quantitative Metrics

Quantitative metrics include:

  • Net Promoter Score or NPS Score: Higher the score, the better 
  • Churn Rate: Lower the better 
  • Growth Rate: Higher the better
  • Market share: Increasing market share reflects achieving PMF 
  • Retention: Higher retention rates mean your customers are happy (and you are in the PMF stage) 
  • Customer Referrals: More referrals = PMF indicator
  • Online Reviews: Positive reviews indicate product-market fit

Qualitative Metrics

Qualitative metrics include:

  • Word-of-mouth: When more people talk about you, it reflects your capability to address a problem the audience is facing 
  • Media coverage: Positive PR and coverage reflect positively on the PMF scale 
  • Goodwill/authoritativeness: More backlinks, authority, and mentions mean you are sought after in your domain, niche, or industry. 

Drive product-market fit research efforts with continuous discovery.

Product-market fit research involves getting deep down into the minds of customers. With customer opinions and perceptions changing in real time, you cannot think of PMF research as a one-time task. Instead, you need to stay in the customer’s mind and start real-time opinion mining. 

Seems like a lot of work for a startup founder? Try GapScout. 

GapScout scans online reviews about your product (and even your competitors) and brings fresh insights about what customers desire, want, and perceive about your brand. Use the tool to get inside customers’ minds in real-time and drive your product-market fit research efforts. All the best! 

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Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol is an independent content marketing consultant who loves to write actionable pieces on small business growth, marketing automation, market research, and growth as a solopreneur. Reach out on Twitter.

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