All too often I see entrepreneurs get excited when products and services are still in the “ideas” phase. Basically, these are concepts and brainstormed ideas that have yet to be created. At this point, the resounding belief is that customers are going to love this new product or new service offer and the money will roll in from all the sales. So, the thought of testing it in the market hasn’t crossed their minds.
Why waste time testing it in the market: it’s going to work right?
The problem is, sadly, if you haven’t tested your products and services in the market first, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment and potential failure of your new creation. Just because you think your idea is a fantastic one doesn’t mean your customer will. It is important to realize if you want your product to produce revenue for your business, testing it out before you go full force on promotion is essential, and therefore should be included in your overall marketing strategy. Furthermore, it can save you from wasting time, energy and money if this doesn’t sell like you dreamed it would.
If you’ve brainstormed a new business idea you feel your business will benefit from – meaning it would act as another revenue stream, keep brainstorming. The fact is you are not ready to send that bad boy off into the world until you’ve done your homework, researched the market, tested pricing structures, figured out distribution options, and narrowed down the target audience. Without testing it to see if there is sufficient demand can leave your business vulnerable to unanticipated expenditures that often can’t be recouped.
Unquestionably, testing a product in the market allows you to make adjustments accordingly, refine your process and do some tweaking before an official launch.
Here are a few things to consider when thinking of launching a new product or service in the marketplace:
- What will it cost to produce?
- Do I need to hire people to help build it, create it?
- What is the best price for the market? Is it a premium product or service?
- Where will it be distributed – what channels will be used?
- Will you need special software for customers to access it, like Thrive cart?
- What is the overall strategy for introducing this product or service and how will you implement a promotional plan and what will that look like
- If it’s a service, do you have software for proposal approval, payments, and follow-up?
Here are 7 ways to test your offer in the marketplace
In order to determine what you should be selling (promoting) and offering in the marketplace that will generate revenue for your business, you need to understand your customer. Yes, knowing the general data like demographics is helpful – but it goes beyond that; you need to uncover if there is a demand, and how will it be perceived. If it’s a product for consumption, then test it out on people to see if they like it.
- Start with customer feedback. Send out questionnaires to a group of selected current and past clients. Describe the new service, the process, and what the client can expect if they bought this service. Find out if they would pay money for it. Offer it in 3 options and see which one is the favorite. For people to buy your product, they need to be aware of it, have a positive impression of it, and believe they need or want it. Refine your product or service based on their feedback.
- Send out a survey to an organization where your potential audience hangs out . Here you can ask questions to determine interest, need, pricing threshold, and past experiences with similar products. You can also send out a survey to business-savvy folks in your network. A basic email with key questions will help you research yourself and why people aren’t finding you or craving your product or service.
- Google your product or service. What comes up? Who are your competitors? Don’t let competition scare you. In fact, it should excite you. It means there is a demand for it. The key is to find your differentiators. What makes your product different? What makes your service the one to consider?
- Leverage social media. Is a product or service like yours showing up on social media? Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Shoppers scour social media to see what folks are saying about the things they are thinking about buying. Some folks like to research as much as possible before making the commitment to buy; they’ll look for photos, comments, reviews, and overall feel of a brand. Check these out and research comments, reviews and overall experiences they have, good or bad. Are there comments wishing for something that isn’t included with your competitors? Is that something you can add to your service?
- Look up your local directories, associations, and local marketplaces. Members visit these websites frequently. See if you can bring in your product to board members, or host a table at their next event where you can let participants try your product.
- Run a pilot. If you are testing out a new service, this is a fantastic way to work out the details. Let your participants know you are running a pilot. Offer them great pricing if they join in with the request that they offer continuous feedback as you go along.
Testing your product or service is part of your overall marketing strategy
If you’ve put something out there and it isn’t selling, you’ll need to go back and rework it or even go back to the drawing board and start all over. Testing out another version will help you determine if this product or service is in fact coveted. It’s important to go over what’s working and what isn’t with each iteration. It’s important to realize the main reason a business should test a new idea in the market is to determine if it’s a viable product.
Once you conceive a great product or service, set the right price, place it appropriately in the marketplace, promote it consistently, and make a connection – the sky is the limit for your success.
Nicole Gallant is the Lead Marketing Strategists helping you align your marketing to a sales process that will get people to buy the fabulous thing you want to share with your audience.