Still a good idea from the shower? What now? If you’re like me, you probably have at least one idea a week or month. When you think of a good idea, it’s probably quickly followed by the thought that there’s too much competition or too much capital needed to bring it to life. Or you simply don’t have time for a new project because you know that every project requires a lot of input and resources. And you abandon the idea…
But don’t give up too soon. What if I told you that every idea is easy to test in the market? And that it doesn’t take thousands of euros to test it? The best thing about it is that after reading this article, you will be able to test the idea on the market yourself.
Why test a business idea?
Testing a business idea is crucial to its success. If you blindly assume that an idea will be a big hit, you could be risking a lot of time, money and other resources. Companies often skip this step because they are in a hurry to launch their product. They fail to create a business plan or business model based on market tests and research and continue on their way without a timeframe. Moreover, they do not identify exactly who their target group is. In this way, many companies fail to achieve their success and, worse still, a lot of time, energy, money and other resources are wasted unnecessarily.
How to test a business idea?
When you start to develop your business idea, initially write down the basic concept of your idea on a piece of paper. Initially, you need to define the problem you are solving with your idea. Next, define your target group of potential customers. It is best for you to target a smaller segment or several smaller segments. Later on you can still scale up to broader segments. Also think about what is innovative about your idea or what is it that sets you apart from the competition. It is also important to set validation targets against which you can validate the success of your idea.
1. Market research and idea refinement
You probably have a general idea of your target market, but now it’s time to explore more. Google has many resources to help business owners learn more about their markets and customers. Check out the tools below:
Shopping Insights – compare trends in shopping categories by search volume, top brands, interest by location and search by device.
Find My Audience – find out which customers are most important and valuable to you on YouTube.
Think with Google – find business articles and data points on consumer behaviour.
Once you have a good picture of your target market and customer segment, you need to check the profiles of your main competitors. Don’t worry if you find strong or numerous competitors, you can still differentiate yourself from them by having an innovative approach or a special feature that will convince potential customers. Check how competitors communicate with customers, what they highlight as strengths, what they have in common and how you can differentiate yourself from them.
In addition to competitor profiles, you can continue with trend research to find out what’s new in your industry. Look for news articles and visit online forums related to your idea. One way to gain insight into industry trends is through keyword research, where you can learn more about search terms related to your idea. To learn more about how people search, check out these tools:
Google Trends – compare keywords, see search behaviour in different countries and sub-regions, see interest over time, browse related topics and queries.
Google Ads Keyword Planner – see average monthly search volume, keyword competition volume and how much people pay per click for Google ads on the search network. Also compare keywords and get related ideas for search terms.
2. Prototype testing
Now you are armed with a detailed customer profile, information on your competitors and a complete understanding of the industry. This will make market entry much easier than if you did not have this information. Now we come to the crucial step of testing the idea. We need to prototype the idea, present it to the market and validate its performance against the objectives set earlier.
Take a pencil and paper and sketch your idea on a piece of paper. If the idea is a web product, we sketch the different functionalities of the product, which the designer will later turn into screenshots of the product. If your idea is a physical product, you can sketch the design, and the functionalities, which the designer will then turn into a real image. Once you have something you can show the rest of the group, it’s time to refine the presentation of the product or your idea. The best way to start is with a small group of test subjects (could be friends or family or experts in the target industry) and demonstrate how it works. When you get to the thing that needs improvement, improve it and try again. The aim here should be to refine your presentation of the project, find obvious improvements and find advantages over competitors.
When you think your prototype is sufficiently refined, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. For this step, you need to create at least a landing page, which includes a presentation of the product with its functionalities, and preferably an explanatory video (as video converts much better than static text and images). The landing page should also have a form through which a person can sign up to beta test the product. You need to create a whitelist of conversions using Google Analytics, as this is the only way to validate the idea against the goals you set earlier. In addition to the website, it is also important to have a presence on social networks. Focus on presenting your prototype clearly and professionally.
Now there is only one thing left to do – to reach a large enough test sample of consumers to validate the idea. The best way to test is with search ads (Google Ads) and display ads (Facebook). These two types of ads will give us a sense of how many people are searching for your idea and how many people are interested in the idea at first glance. Initially, you need to set up a couple of short campaigns that have different creatives and target different consumer segments. This will allow us to see what works best. Once we have the winning combination, it’s time to test our idea on a larger sample of consumers. Once we have a large enough sample to test, we can validate our objectives and answer the question of whether the idea is good or not.
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3. Testing the MVP product
When you’re sure you have a killer idea, you’re ready to try out different versions of the product. By gathering feedback from potential customers, testing the product allows you to refine it, create different versions of the product and decide which version is best. In contrast to the idea or prototype testing phase, by this time you have a functional product. Of course, your product should have minimum viable product (MVP) functionality.
Now invite people to try your product. Be selective about who you want to beta test. Ideally, this group should be from a previously defined target group. If they like your product, they are likely to recommend it to others in the future. Ask your test group about their opinion on how the product works, what they think of the design and other feelings about the product. Such feedback is invaluable and will help you make a good product. But be careful to have a large enough test sample and not to decide on the functionality you need from too narrow a sample.
4. Testing the target market
The last stage before a full launch is target market testing. Although related to product testing, market testing – also known as soft launch – is not the same. Product testing involves asking people about your product. Market testing is when you launch a product in a limited area for a limited time. Through market testing, you can find out how the product actually performed in sales. Your market test should cover an essential aspect of your product. A more complete version or additional features will be available at a later stage. Even if you do not get direct feedback on certain aspects of the product that could be improved, you may notice that your product performs better or worse than you expected. This information will help you improve your product and your marketing strategy.
No matter how great your idea is, it will probably need a little tweaking or polishing during testing. But you’ll be all the happier when the extra effort you put in at the beginning pays off with your business successfully launched! It is important to remember that testing ideas does not solve all problems. However, it can greatly help you to be more prepared to deal with them when they do arise. Idea testing is an effective way to reduce the risks and costs of product development.
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