PMF Score vs. NPS

An uncommon way to use both together

If you’ve been a subscriber for a while you probably know I’m a big advocate for founders tracking product-market fit score. It’s a great way to measure how your product is actually meeting user needs, and in some situations I recommend founders to use it instead of NPS.

But both metrics are often misunderstood even though understanding your users is just about the most important thing a founder needs to do. Both PMF score and NPS can be valuable in doing that.

This week’s deep dive is how (and when) you can use both metrics in tandem to get the most out of each one 👇

Product Market Fit Score

PMF score simply measures how well your product is meeting your users’ needs.

To use it, ask your users how disappointed they’d be if they couldn’t use your product anymore and give them the options of “Very”, “Somewhat”, and “Not at all”

Here’s an example:

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You want over 40% of qualified responses to pick “Very” — that’s an indicator that you’re meeting the core needs of enough users to start hitting actual PMF, which is notoriously tough to measure.

The main criticism of PMF score is related to something Marc Andreessen said in 2007:

“You can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it—or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can.”

Basically, you’ll KNOW when you hit PMF without needing a survey to tell you. But PMF score is still useful as an indicator, before you hit PMF, of whether you’re trending towards it or not. If 28% of responses last month were “Very” but this month it’s 31%, keep doing what you’re doing.

Also — PMF score was originally created by Sean Ellis, the former Head of Growth at Dropbox who’s also founded multiple startups that were eventually acquired. He’s the author of one of my favorite books on growth.

When to Use PMF Score

This may seem obvious, but PMF score is most useful when you’re actively trying to find PMF (either in the early stages of a new idea, or when you’re navigating a pivot).

But this doesn’t only mean in the early days of your startup. When I worked at Uber in 2017 we used PMF score for new product launches, even though it was years after Uber’s core ridesharing service had found PMF.

Another, often overlooked point about PMF score is that you should only care about responses given by people who have used your product recently, and more than once.

Source: Testing Business Ideas by David Bland

A PMF score from a new user who’s only gone through your signup flow is useless (and not filtering those out can skew the results).

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