Meaningful Conversation 3 – Seducing the Teller at Wells Fargo With Work

I am running a social experiment to have more meaningful conversations. This is a recap of one of my attempts. If you want to see why I am doing this, please read this: My Experiment to Have More Meaningful Conversations.

This was the first day that I approached someone that I did not know well to have a candid conversation. In fact, it was the first time that I actually interrupted someone’s life (and their job) to talk about mine. It was at the bank when I had to deposit some checks (I realize there are high-tech ways to do this, but I still take pleasure in depositing them myself).

I decided beforehand to talk to any random teller, whether I knew them or not. I did not expect to be nervous, but I was. I had the same feeling that I get in a bar before approaching a pretty girl. The name of this blog is ‘Shooters Shoot’ for a reason, so I just started with, “I’m excited to show you the new app we just released.” The teller was excited and so was the manager next to him. I showed them Clippo and they thought it was cool, but that was not enough alone to sustain a longer conversation.

teller

The manager started to walk away, so I explained to the teller loudly enough so the manager could hear, how we were having trouble getting users and asked if he had any ideas. The teller said, “what about Facebook?” and then there was another 30-second silence. It would have been easy to give up there, but I kept pressing. I described how acquiring a mobile user on Facebook was quite expensive and it was only for larger companies like gaming companies with deep pockets who could buy users.

Thankfully, this brought the manager back (probably wondering what I was still doing there), with an idea. “You know,” he started, “one of my friends built this photo app that is one of the top 10 on the app store.”

Then the conversation started rolling. In fact, I ended up talking to them for almost fifteen minutes, completely monopolizing this teller’s time. What was even better was that he is an avid Vine user, so I was speaking to our target demographic.

Reflecting on this chat, I found two things interesting. First, I realized that there was a large barrier that I needed to surpass to even have this conversation; the teller needed tacit “approval” from his manager to talk to me. Second, once we started talking more personally about my problem, and not just the app itself, the teller began to think of more ideas, and became invested in the conversation. Maybe this is why as a startup we are supposed to “marry a problem” and not the solution?

Again like my first encounter, there was a fair amount of give and take. They offered ideas for my user acquisition problem and also asked some questions about startups, mobile apps, and other tech-related things they were curious about. Perhaps they didn’t have an outlet for this type of conversation or maybe they were just being polite and humoring me, but regardless I was happy to answer their questions. To be honest, I’m excited about taking my next trip to the bank- I am curious if our conversation has the potential to go deeper.

In addition to my commentary, I’m going to add a summary at the end of each post, so I can keep track of what the other person did, what they shared, and what I answered for them (if anything).

What they did:

  1. They both downloaded the app (2 new users!)
  2. The manager told me about his friend who made one of the 10 most popular photography apps in the app store – and one of his early user strategies (it’s a good one)
  3. One of them gave me feedback about the tutorial
  4. Both said they would try it and share with friends and will have feedback the next time I come in (I can’t wait)

What they asked me:

  1. What do you keep track of in a new app?
  2. How many users do you need to have?
  3. What was easier, building a product or finding investors? (I thought this was an interesting question – they didn’t ask about acquiring new users)

Discussion — One Response

  • Evan Sigvaldsen 02/27/2014 on 2:25 am

    I really enjoyed this article. You make some great points, especially considering how many of us “entrepreneurs” ignore market research opportunities in our everyday lives.

    Marrying the problem is the fundamental advice that is often missed by startups. Really, it seems like focusing on relationships and conversations is one of the best ways to get out of the trap of a “written” or “accepted” strategy.

    Reply