Issue #91

Sent to members on February 27, 2018

How to quickly test a new product idea

At the Summit I was just at in Texas, one of the co-founders of Outdoorsy (a peer-to-peer RV rental company) spoke about startups. And he talked about how to test out an idea as quickly as possible.

Now, this is something I’ve talked about, too, inside The Lab. It is always a super risky idea to build a product and then seek to sell it. It is ALWAYS better to try to sell it first.

The only true test of a new product idea is whether anybody will buy it.

Now, what many people try to do is “prove” an idea based on vibes from their audience. Perhaps they’ll run a survey, ask email subscribers or people in their Facebook group. And they get positive feedback on an idea then take that and run with it as proof the idea has legs.

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That isn’t enough. And I’ve seen it many times when somebody goes and builds something to sell based on that kind of proof… only to have barely anybody buy it when it is finally for sale.

See, people don’t want to hurt your feelings. They don’t want to disappoint you. So, they’ll tell you what you want to hear even if they don’t mean it. Kind of how we all instinctually say “fine” when asked how we’re doing. Even if we’re having a downright crappy day.

There’s no skin in the game for a person giving their opinion. There’s no risk to them if they say “Sure, that is something I’d be interested in.”. It is just words. All that matters if if they’ll buy it.

So, the guy from Outdoorsy talked about MVP (minimum viable product). That’s nothing new. And he talked about testing out the riskiest assumption first.

For example, when they started Outdoorsy, their riskiest assumption was… “Will anybody want to rent an RV from a private party”? I mean, their whole idea was based on that working. It was their riskiest assumption.

So, they tested that first. They created a super UGLY minimum viable product. It was literally a request form. If somebody wanted to rent an RV, the founders would scour Craigslist to try to find one for them. It was ugly, manual, and…. crap. BUT…

It tested the idea of whether anybody would buy.

Now, how could you do something similar with a product offer you have in mind? Perhaps an ebook, an online course, or anything else.

Well, a direct approach would be this…

  1. Present the offer and give them a BUY button. No need to actually make it work.
  2. If they click the BUY button, ask for their email.
  3. Once they submit, give them a notice about the product not being completed. You may even survey them right then and there on what they MOST want in the eventual product.
  4. You’re building an email list as you do this of people who hit the BUY button. Stay in close touch with those people, involve them in the creation process to ensure you make exactly what they wanted.

Now, in this case, no money changed hands. But, each of those people hit the BUY button. There was intention there.

There’s your test. Do people hit the button or not?

Super easy to do. Even easier than doing a whole pre-offer (where you would actually collect money).

So, if you don’t have an offer out there yet, give this a whirl.

Think up an idea you think would work. Create a landing page for it with a buy button. See what happens.

Use Thrive Architect to build your page. It makes it easy. If you already have another landing page builder, that’s fine, too.

– David

Tech Talk

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