How to test a product idea

How to test a product idea

Why and how you should validate your business or product idea?

One of the first steps when starting a business is to test a product idea. Before launching a new product or business you want to avoid the risk of spending a lot of time and money on something that nobody wants to buy. This is one of the most common startup mistakes – producing large amounts of stock only to find out there is not enough demand on your product. You need to verify your idea before production or renting an expensive office. So how to avoid this and how to test a product idea, validate the prototype and see if it is worth pursuing?

How to test business ideas

To validate your idea, create a minimum value project to verify a product or service concept. The 3 components of the minimum value project for product testing are:

  • Prototype
    First, create a basic functionality product, a prototype and launch it. Ask the users for feedback and gather market data. This is to see how many people are interested and ready to pay, how much they are willing to spend and whether they actually need your product or service. 
  • Metrics
    Measure and analyse the information from the market. Verify your metrics data on: the number of website visits, enquiries, paying customers, people interested, types of questions from users and potential customers. 
  • Improvements
    Learn from customer feedback and all the information you gathered. Make product improvements, test different ad headings etc, get more feedback and tweak again. 

Decide if your product idea is worth pursuing 

After the product testing phase you will have an idea whether there is interest in your offer. Remember that you’ve gone through the trouble of business idea testing to decide either way – to give it up or to go on. It is not a bad thing if at this stage you decide not to continue and move on to do something more worthy. Another common startup mistake is to pursue a project that only the creator thinks to be a breakthrough solution but the rest of the world seems to miss the genius of it. 

Tip: Start building a mailing list as soon as you can, so you can contact all interested once your product is ready. 

Walk in an autumn forest - think how to verify business idea

How to test your product before launch

To verify your product or service idea you need to start offering it for testing before the launch. You can do it online in the following steps:

  1. Advertise
    Create social media pages, FB or Google ads to test the product popularity.
  2. Offer
    Create an advert with: heading, text describing the product, warranty, addressing customer’s concerns, price. Add a ’buy now’ or ‘add to basket’ button. This will give you information on how many people are interested in buying. 
  3. Form
    After step 2 send your potential customers to a page with a form to fill out with their personal information: name, surname, email, phone number, whatever is relevant. Include a ‘complete transaction’ or ‘order now’ button. You don’t need to collect any payments at this stage (especially if your product doesn’t exist yet – you shouldn’t). This form is to collect contact details of your potential customers. Also, clicking the ‘buy now’ confirms they are ready to purchase.
  4. Error page
    Next page the potential customer is transferred to is… an error page. It can say something like ‘Oh… something isn’t working. We will get in touch with you when we fix the glitch.’ So, you’re not selling yet, but testing real interest and collecting contact details. 

This is a low cost method to test a product idea, decrease the risk of launching a product nobody wants to buy and building a contact list. Examples of businesses which started this way include: Zappos, Groupon, FarmVille (the game). You can use this validation method to test eBook ideas, online courses, packaged goods or even in-person services. 

Once you have a finished product or are ready to deliver the service, reach out to all the people who left their contact details and tried to buy in your testing phase. 

Literature on testing business ideas

And finally, if you want to explore more about testing business ideas, I can recommend a book ‘Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. 

Share your experience

Have you tried this method to verify your business idea? Did it work for you? Or maybe you want to share other ways of product testing? Do leave a comment!

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