You go into business to help someone. You want to solve a problem for others and help them to live a better life or do business in a more efficient way.
And maybe when you first started your business you were able to do just that.
Eventually, however, you want to grow. Maybe it doesn’t feel like enough to serve clients and customers one at a time, so you develop a product or program that allows you to reach a wider audience.
All is well in the world of business, you think. But when you release the product into the online space, you hear crickets.
There are any number of reasons why your new product or program didn’t sell: the pricing was off, the sales page didn’t speak to your audience, you didn’t have enough visibility. You can pick apart why you missed your goal for days.
But the single most common reason I see for new products not succeeding is because the business owner failed to validate the idea before launching. Or, maybe worse, they thought they validated their idea but actually only gathered opinions.
Surely you’ve seen the polls in Facebook groups, with creators looking for feedback on an idea en masse. This might be a good way to gather tertiary opinions about a new idea, but there’s far more you need to do if you want to truly validate your idea.
Without proper validation, you have no idea if your grand new idea is going to sink or swim. I don’t want you to sink.Without proper validation, you have no idea if your grand new idea is going to sink or swim. I don’t want you to sink.Click To Tweet
Where Creatives Go Wrong in Developing a Product
There are a lot of creatives in this online space; chances are you’re one of them! Whether it’s handmade artwork, new packages for your clients, downloadables to build your list or courses and groups, none of us is immune to creating “things” for our audience.
In general, creatives create for themselves. Because they’re drawn to something and it feels good.
Unfortunately, this isn’t good practice when it comes to building a business and developing products.
Think of it in terms of big-box retail. The buyer for the store (the person who selects which products will actually appear on the shelves) buys what the audience (the customers) will buy. So while the designer may choose to create an amazing product, if it’s not going to resonate with the end customer, it will never land on the store shelves.In big biz, if it’s not going to resonate with the end customer, you won’t find it on the shelves.Click To Tweet
That’s often what happens in small business too, where the business owner thinks up an amazing new course or program and dives into it head-first. But the reality is that their audience may not be interested in it when the link to the sales page lands in their inbox.
How Corporate America is Different
I may be dating myself here, but I remember the days when walking into a certain door of the mall meant getting accosted by someone with a clipboard. They wanted to know how old you were, whether you used a certain type of product or what you did for a living.
What they were doing was determining if you were their ideal audience member–so they could validate an idea.
If you’ve never answered those questions to the clipboard-wielding person’s liking, I’ll tell you what happens next. They take you back to a room where they show you different products, ask you questions and maybe have you try some samples (depending on what type of product they’re developing).
Validation processes like these happen all over the world, every single day. Because big corporations don’t want to pour money, talent and time into products that won’t sell. But somehow, creatives missed the memo on this one.
You need to validate your products, services and programs before developing them too. Otherwise, you’ve just wasted your money, talent and time developing a product that isn’t going to sell.Without validation, you’ll waste your time, money and talent developing what won’t sell.Click To Tweet
Idea Validation for the Small Business
Validating your idea is going to look different than it does for Big Business. After all, you don’t have the time or resources to conduct a full-scale focus group. But there are some things you can do to check off some boxes and make sure that your grand idea won’t fall flat.
1. Talk to your current audience (not a big Facebook group) about the idea.
When you post a poll in a large Facebook group, chances are pretty good that most of the people who respond are not your ideal audience. They aren’t going to buy from you anyway, so you don’t need their opinion about your new offering. Instead, talk directly (either via email, phone or on a video chat) to the people who have bought from you before. They’re your best bet on getting the right feedback.
2. Give as many details as you possibly can.
Over a year ago, I had the idea to host a retreat for my other business, More Mom Movement. When I talked to my audience, 72 moms were interested in a weekend away without the kids. So I poured my heart into planning. But when it was time to place your deposit, only seven people actually said yes. The problem was that I didn’t tell them the price or location up-front. And when it was time to commit, many moms didn’t feel comfortable spending the $900 for the event–without their kids. When you talk to your audience, give them as many details as you have available so they can give you informed feedback.
3. Offer a paid beta round at 30% to 50% of your desired price-point.
When there’s some skin (money) in the game, people are more likely to show up and commit. Before releasing a big program or offering to your audience, host a beta program. This helps you make tweaks based on feedback and gather testimonials from your happy clients.
Of course, you’re in business for yourself because you want to have a say in what you do every day. You want to make the big decisions about what you offer to your audience–and how you deliver it.
That’s still possible, even when using validation as a way to decide what to offer and what to shelve. The key is to only validate the ideas that you’re truly passionate about. And if something falls short in this process today, give it another try next quarter or next year. Now might not be the right time, but then just may be!
For help identifying your mission, vision and values as you develop programs for your audience, grab my worksheet below!