Got an Idea? Here is How to Validate It
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The Big Q’s : You have an idea Yes, now how do you make sure that it works, that people want to actually buy it, and would want to use your service?
More Big Q’s: How do you know that you are solving their problems before you get started, how do you make sure that you are not wasting your time building something that no one ever care about?
The Big A: The answer is straightforward, sensible and practical, validate the idea 1st.
We all know that startup stuff is really not simple or easy, but making sure an idea has some potential of working before you proceed really helps.
When startups fail, it is often because they built something that the market did not want, period
Below are 4 ways to help validate an idea before starting to build it into a full-on startup, as follows:
- A “Smoke Site” Test: Within Lean Startup philosophy, a smoke test site is one that is just a façade. It looks like it’s a real service, but it is really just a flat site with no backend, nothing built out, and no real actions. They can be used easily to track and estimate demand for a business idea, and to help gather contact information for people who may be interested.
The smoke test site is easy to build out, include a pricing page, explain your service, the benefits it will provide, and the plans. The reason for this site is to see if anyone tries to buy. Add the buttons for people to sign up, and make the clicks on these buttons trackable. The simplest way to do this is to have Google Analytics on every page, and make the buttons link to a page for that plan. Super easy to track and calculate interest. Put a waiting list sign up CTA on that page and say the service is not built out yet, but that the visitor can drop his or her email address for a discount when it does launch. Grab some e-Mail addresses of interested people, and besides, those people could be Golden for further customer discovery and validation. A domain is cheap, and a template is cheap or free, so a smoke test is a very affordable way to help determine interest in your idea. Add live chat to the site, man it. If Q’s come from visitors, there is interest, and what questions come, and the conversations can help shape the direction of service/product. Use this for an opportunity to do more customer discovery.
- Set up a 1-Page Site for Waiting List: Built a Typeform page, run traffic to it with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) ads, to see the percentage of traffic interested in either working for equity or hiring in exchange for equity. Without spending much money or time, you may know you are onto something, and the idea gets validated. Simply having a sign-up form with trackable metrics says what percentage of visitors are interested enough to give up their e-Mail address in exchange for an invite or more information. If no one signs up, either the idea or the presentation of the idea is lame, try again.
- On Demand Feedback: Running targeted surveys is a way to try to get feedback on an idea to validate it, or learn how to improve it. The thing about surveys is that you really have to pay to get them filled out. Most people do not want to spend their time filling out surveys, but they will do it for a reward. Build up a mailing list for the idea, or get a mailing list from another project with a relevant audience, then entice them to take the survey with a reward, whether it’s a small Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) gift card, free access to your service, or help promoting something of theirs.
You could also find people to take your survey on demand with a service like Userinput.io specifying demographics, which is Key when targeting certain areas or industries.
- Get Traffic on Demand: Get a domain, build out a Smoke Test site, aka anding page, and of course your traffic is going to be at or around Zero people. So, it is Key to bring in targeted traffic that has the ability to be interested in the offering. How is that done? Here are 2 sites to get traffic: Reddit ads are super cheap and highly targetable. There’s a subreddit for just about everything, and run ads on any subreddit, plus you can target by interest as well. And if no one clicks the ad, that may be an indicator that the idea is not interesting to the audience. There are the big ad networks, like Facebook, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), but their popularity and structure can make them expensive, clicks or no clicks. Bing from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) ads can be very affordable, Bing looks like Google’s doppelganger. Keep in mind that irrelevant traffic can screw up data.
- Cold Calling: If you want to see if people would buy a certain idea, call them and see.This works especially well for B2B ideas, and it’s how it helped validate the idea for for the sales management software, close.io. The method is simple, call people who would be prospects if the idea was built out, tell them about your service while allusing it is already real and available, tell them all the benefits they would get from it, and see if they would buy it. Try to close on the phone. Take their Questions and learn what they would want from the system. If they are willing to buy, then you are onto something. Even if they are just interested, you’re probably onto something. Try to get their credit card info to sign up on the spot, as payment is the ultimate validation of an idea.
Have a terrific weekend.
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