Product naming is hard.
Too many factors come into play when looking for a name and it’s almost impossible to decide on the right name once you’ve stared at the same list for a week straight. This is the kind of thing that keeps you up at night, even after you’ve made the decision.
And asking opinions is fine, but more often than not the people you ask are not in your demographic:
“Hi Mom. Things are good, thanks. Hey while I have you on the phone, what do you think I should call my enterprise level encryption engine?”
About two months ago Patrick Thompson, a member of the Micropreneur Academy, was in search of a name for his speed reading eBook reader for the iPhone. We emailed several times about the process he followed to find his optimal name, and given his creative approach I wanted to share it here.
As an aside, his application launched last week and you can find it at http://www.quickreader.net/ or in the iPhone app store under the name “QuickReader.”
A while back Patrick contacted a handful of Academy members and asked for opinions on potential product names. Our task was to choose a few names we liked from a long list of ideas. From this data he culled a short list of potential names – around 40 – and put a survey on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. He got the idea from these two links: here and here.
He asked people to view a screencast of the application, offer suggestions for the name and give their feedback on the app. He received 29 responses and paid a total of around $7.
With a successful test run in his pocket he put out a 14-question survey looking for 500 respondents. He paid $.055 per survey (including Amazon’s $.005), and had 50 respondents in the first 3 hours.
Five days later Patrick had 250 responses and enough information to decide on a name, but let the survey run because he was receiving solid information from the other (non-naming) survey questions, as well as leads who were interested in being notified when the app launched. At the time of this writing he’s at 460 responses.
While the purpose of the survey was to choose a name for his application, he (wisely) took the opportunity to also ask about demographics. Among other things, he found that:
- A slight majority of respondents were female
- Nearly 75% were between 18 and 35
- 63% were in North America; 20% in India
- 28% of respondents were in his target market (meaning they owned an iPhone or iPod touch)
- 25% of respondents had ever read a book on a mobile device (not bad!)
- More than half had an interest in speed reading
- 21% volunteered to beta test and provided their email
- 20% asked to be notified when the app was available and provided their email
Obviously the population taking the survey was skewed towards a younger, technology savvy audience. But it’s close enough to his target market to work.
Regarding the product name, which was the original purpose of the survey, a list of 40 names was given to each respondent was asked to choose up to 3 names. While QuickReader wasn’t the top name for the entire population, it was a close second among people that had an interest in speed reading and 3 of the top 5 overall names had the word “quick” and “read” or “reader” in them. And QuickReader works well for some of Patrick’s future plans for the app.
The top name overall, throughout the survey, was iReadFast. While he decided not to use this for the product name (as it doesn’t fit well for a general e-book reader), he did grab the ireadfast.com domain name to use as a blog or education site in the future. I’m surprised the name was available.
Overall, Patrick said that using Mechanical Turk for the survey was a great experience and obviously quite cost effective. It cost him $27.50 for 500 responses ($.05 per respondent + .005 per respondent for Amazon’s cut). He was able to decide on an app name. He found out something about what devices Turks use and their attitudes about reading and speed reading, and he got a list of close to 100 e-mail addresses of people wanting to be notified when the app launched.
And finally, here is the advice he provided from his research and first-hand experience:
- Always do a small trial or 2 of your survey task before you start the real one
- Try to make it interesting for the Turk
- Providing a link to a screencast of the app was a good idea (the Turks enjoyed it)
- Provide a confirmation code in your survey, on the final thank you page, once they have answered all of the questions. This is what the Turk enters in a form at the end to prove that they took the survey.
- Executing the survey in an external survey site, rather than doing the survey directly in Amazon’s form, allows you to use the built in reports of your survey provider (rather than just getting the excel data.)
- Keywords are important. When you publish your task, try to add as many relevant keywords as possible.
- Even if your goal is narrow (e.g., selecting a name), use the opportunity to find out more about your potential users and market.
- Always have a question asking how you can improve the survey.
- Pay Quickly. It annoys Turks when you don’t.
- It’s addictive. It is hard to keep yourself from constantly checking to see if new results have come in.
Patrick’s search for a product name demonstrates a creative approach for Mechanical Turk. He invested a few hours and around $20 and wound up with a name he knows is a good choice for his market and a nice list of prospects to notify about his launch.
The reason I like his approach comes back to my desire to measure and quantify marketing. If there’s one thing wrong most people miss about marketing, it’s measuring and tweaking everything: your message, your copy, your videos, your tagline, even your price.
And while you can’t easily tweak your product name, Patrick took the next best approach by measuring in advance instead of thinking about it for week and going with a gut feeling. Quantifying these kinds of things will improve sales and, trust me on this one, will allow you to sleep at night.