One of the most stressful parts of starting a business is wondering if anybody wants to actually buy what you have to offer. In the good ol’ days before the Internet finding the answer to your question was an expensive process. Common ways you’d try to find out was by conducting focus groups and surveys to see if people were interested and excited about your potential offer. Another way people used to do this was to buy a list of addresses, print postcards or sales letters, and send them to a small portion of their list. The downside was that you’d still be spending thousands to reach a small group of people. The upside though was if a certain percentage of people responded and purchased your offer, you would have a good indicator to spend more money to reach an even larger portion of your list.
Lucky for you, you’re sitting here in the Internet age and your tools for finding this answer are much more direct and much more affordable. Sometimes all you need is a little time and creativity to make amazing things happen.
Here are some affordable and fast ways you can test market your product or service before investing and riskings large sums of money.
- Find a forum that focuses on your business niche.
Once you’ve joined, there are typically sections of the forum designated for you to post your offer or a special deal for the forum’s members.
- Join a group on social media interested in a topic related to your business.
You can find these all over Facebook and LinkedIn. The only catch is that you cannot go into these groups and directly advertise your business typically. Most group moderators do not like their feeds overrun with business offers so you will have to spend most of your time helping other members and discussing topics without directly mentioning your business. The upside of social communities though is that you can show your expertise and build relationships that eventually lead to new business.
- Test a micro ad budget on Google AdWords.
You don’t need tens of thousands of dollars to see if there’s interest in your business idea. Simply find keywords that closely match what you offer and test a few hundred dollars worth of ad budget to see if people click your ad and visit your landing page. Your landing page can be very simple explaining the core benefits of your offer and give people a way to get in contact with you. If your campaign is a success, you can then invest more into optimizing your landing page, sales copy, and business processes. Tim Ferriss, the author of the New York Times best seller, The 4-Hour Work Week, used this exact strategy to find the best version of his book’s title by testing different ad/headline combinations to see which ones generated the highest click-through rate.
- Test a micro ad budget on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter ads.
This process is very similar to the Google AdWords testing methodology except your ads are on a social network that matches where you think your target audience hangs out. Depending on the social network you use, the way you target your audience varies slightly. Facebook allows you target people based on a wide variety of interests and demographics. If you have a list of customers, you can even upload this list to let Facebook work its magic and find other people on the network similar to your best customers. LinkedIn and Twitter offer their own style of interest targeting and remarketing. You’ll approach your campaign the same way with these networks in that you’ll look to see if people are clicking your ads, taking you up on your landing page offer, and ultimately buying at the end of the sales funnel.
- Test the market directly with crowd funding.
With all of these methods, you can lean things out even further if you’re just getting started with your business idea. Many people let the fact that they don’t have a ready-to-go service or product stop them from testing in the first place. You can do the same thing as FitBit when all they had was an idea. They launched a website as if the product was finished and ready to go with their call to action being a pre-order instead of a real order. Hoping to only 5 pre-orders FitBit blew themselves away when they got over 2,000 pre-orders in one day.The same thing happened with Coin and their crowdfunding campaign. With no product in existence, the mere idea of it launched as a crowdfunding page tested the market directly and hit a $50,000 fund raising goal within 40 minutes of launching it.
Whether you’re a new business person or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to expand into new markets, these methods can be your go-to tools to find your answers even faster and more confidently than ever before.
Have you ever used any of these techniques or think these might work for your new idea? Comment below and keep the discussion going!