Demand Horizon

with Gerry Campbell

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Discovery Tools

Search is an objective expression of user demand

Gerry Campbell

Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Demand Horizon & Search Expert

Lessons Learned

Begin any venture with user conversations.

Search is the forum where users indicate demand.

To begin explore uncertainty, start with the broadest net and then move tighter.


Lesson: Demand Horizon with Gerry Campbell

Step #5 Discovery Tools: Search is an objective expression of user demand and can be used as a discovery tool

How do we explore the uncertainty? Search is the perfect business. I have talked about it; users come, they put their thoughts into a search entry box, they're not expecting to be observed, they're not expecting to do anything other than get what they want. It's like this magic "give me" machine. I go, show up and give me a place to buy a new iPad, give me directions, give me, give me, give me. The resulting data is really, really interesting.

Here's my experience. I was doing this 15 years ago, looking at query streams, trying to study what kind of products we should build. I think we built lots of products that generated patents. Facebook just licensed the search suggestion patent, Google uses it. A bunch of things. How do we come to that? We started by user conversations. We ask people, what's frustrating about search? We ask them.

When you're looking for information, what's frustrating? "Well, I search and the stuff on the page has nothing to do with what I was looking for" or "I need true stories." Somebody said, "I was looking for Buddhist Mala Beads and I could not find any Buddhist Mala Beads and that was the most frustrating thing ever." So, we start with user conversations and I suggest this is the place to start for startups. Then you move to search analysis, then competitive analysis and then observed behavior. The point here is, again really nailing that you start with the broadest net and you move tighter.

When I was at Airwell and AltaVista, we had the query stream and I could see real data all the time. There are ways to get at things and now what we are going to do is that we are going to walk through a set of tools and those tools are generally available or pay tools that you can get and you can look at the data that drives search behavior and search marketing behavior.

So, the first one is Google Trends, this thing is amazing, its more powerful than some of the internal tools that I had when we were defining products. You can go in and do things like, I searched for parking app and I can see, over time, wow, somewhere around 2009, people started searching for parking app on Google. Well, the Google is a great place to look because it’s so big, right? If there is a signal in here that people are looking for parking might be something good, right?

So the first validation that the market is not declining and if the market were declining, if the interest were declining, I would probably try other words and route around and see what else I could find. See if anything in and around the parking app would deliver this but honesty goodness I said, "What about a parking app?" It wasn't for business hypothetically. I throw a parking app in here and I see this and think probably onto something.

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