Here are some good resources for Demand Validation: Does Anybody Care About Your Product Or Service:
Demand Validation: How to Find Out If Customers Want to Buy Your Product
by: Noah Parsons. This is a good starter article.
The 3 questions you need to ask yourself
Now that you have your business idea (really, your guess, right?), you’re ready to answer three critical questions:
What problem do my potential customers have?
What’s the solution to that problem?
Why would people pay money for my product?
If you think that [problem], you should try [solution] like [company name] so that [value].
All you’re doing is taking your three answers from the previous step and turning them into a sentence. You might need to do a little wordsmithing to make everything work, but that’s OK. The key is that the message should stay the same.
1. Get a 30,000-foot view
Armed with your three answers, you’re ready to start validating that your potential customers have the problem you think they have and that they’ll be interested in your solution.
Evaluate search volume
Let’s start by looking at what people search Google for.
Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Moz’s Keyword Explorer, you can see how many people search for specific words and phrases. You’ll want to think about what people might search for when they’re looking for solutions to the problem you’re trying to solve, so create a list of searches related to both the problem and your specific solution.
2. Shoe-leather research
Your next step is to actually talk to some of the people that you spied on from 30,000-foot view in the previous step.
Create a list of places where potential customers spend their time
Start out by finding 10 to 20 different places where people who have the problem you’re solving hang out. Don’t just say Facebook—be specific: Members of the Springfield foodies group, people who have reviewed other Italian restaurants on Yelp, people who comment on restaurant reviews in the local paper or the alternative weekly, and so on.
You’ll need to find at least 10 of these sources—the more the better. If you’re struggling with this step, you might need to return to your original idea and make some revisions.
Identify specific potential customers
Now that you have your list, you need to identify specific people from each group that you can reach out to and see if you can talk to them about your idea.
Try and find at least 10 from each group. Again, the more the better. And, yes, this is a lot of people (at least 100), and yes, it’s hard work.
Talk to your potential customers
When you have your list of people, the next step is to actually talk to these people. It’ll be tempting to start with a sales pitch and see what their reaction is, but there’s a better way.
Dust off the answers to the three questions we talked about earlier. Now you’ll put them to good use.
Start by reaching out (phone, email, Facebook message, LinkedIn InMail, and so on) and use a message like this to get started. [See examples in the article]
3. Make it (kinda) real
If you’re starting a business where online advertising makes sense, then the next step takes all of your research and puts it to a final test: Will people actually put their money where their mouth is?
Build a landing page and test some advertising
In this final test, you’ll build out a landing page for your product and buy some ads on Google and/or Facebook.
You’ll want to include your price and a “buy now” button on your landing page. But, your “buy now” button won’t actually work. Instead of taking your potential customer to a shopping cart, you’ll want them to end up at a page that explains your current situation. Something message like, “Sorry! Product X isn’t available just yet. Please enter your email address below and we’ll notify you as soon as it’s ready.”
To drive traffic to your landing page, you’re probably going to have to buy some ads on Google or Facebook. Target the lists of terms that you figured out earlier in this process related to your problem and your solution. If you have competition, consider advertising to people who are searching for those alternative products.
Consider content marketing
An alternative approach to building a landing page and buying advertising is to explore content marketing. Instead of buying traffic, you could start a blog with content that your target audience might find interesting. If you can get traffic to your blog by promoting your posts in message boards and other places where your target audience hangs out, then you’ll have a built-in platform to mention your not-yet-real product and drive traffic to your landing page.
Light the fuse
If everything has gone well to this point, your guess is no longer much of a guess—it’s a collection of facts. You know:
- Who wants your product
- Why they want your product
- What value your product provides to your customers
Now, it’s time to really get started.
This is a good summary article of the Shopify series that follows:
5 Strategies To Validate Your Product Ideas
by Richard Lazazzera
1. Analyze Your Competition
Uncovering Your Competitors
The first step is to first determine who is currently selling your potential product. The easiest way to discover your competitors is to do some simple Google searches for your product idea. It’s important to think like a potential customer and search for terms that customers would actually use.
1. How long have they been in business?
Businesses that don’t make money don’t stay in business. You can use a service like Who Is to lookup information on a particular domain and see when it was registered. Additionally, both Twitter and Facebook will show you the creation dates of accounts. Understanding how long a business has been around can better help you understand it’s success.
2. What does their social following/interaction look like?
Social following and interaction doesn’t necessarily correlate to sales but it could be a good indicator of market interest. One of the most important things to remember here is that you can’t take the number of followers for face value.
3. Traffic and Backlinks
Traffic and backlinks can be an indicator of overall competitive strength and success in the market. Although it’s not possible to know the exact amount of traffic a particular website receives, there are tools that help you gauge the approximate amount of traffic a site gets, along with the number of backlinks pointing to it.
A great place to begin is to see what customers are saying about your product idea [meaning your competitor’s products] as well as their sentiment around it. Topsy is perfect for searching for information surrounding hashtags to learn more about what customers are talking about in relation to your product idea.
The last thing you want to do is jump head first into a declining market. Google Trends is a really simple and free web application that will allow you to search for keywords related to your chosen product to better understand the trend based on Google searches over time.
Is your product idea trending up, down or is it stagnant? Knowing where the market is going can help you make a more informed decision for your idea.
Understanding your product’s trend is a good start but it’s also important to know how many people are currently searching for your product idea each month. That’s where Google’s Keyword Planner Tool comes into play. The Keyword Planner Tool allows you to search for keywords and phrases related to your product and then displays the total number of searches each money for the chosen terms.
In addition, the Keyword Planner tool will also display the level of competition in paid search for each term. This can allow you to better understand how lucrative the keywords are, which can also be an indication of profitability of the product.
3. Survey Your Target Market
4. Create A Crowdfunding Campaign
One of the most popular methods of testing these days is to set up a crowdfunding campaign on sites like Indigogo or Kickstarter. Setting up a crowdfunding campaign not only helps you to validate your product but allows you to collect money upfront.
5. Open A Test Store
Finally, one of the best and most reliable ways to test demand for your idea is by setting up a test store. This popular method, which has been discussed in books like The 4 Hour Work Week, involves setting up a store with your product and driving traffic to it to test consumer interest.
Articles In The Shopify Series On What To Sell On Line:
(1) What to Sell Online: 8 Strategies for Finding Your First Product
by Richard Lazazzera
Product and Niche Opportunity Types
Below is our list of eight potential opportunities to help you find your own product or niche. Each involves a different mindset and approach.
- Find Opportunities in Keywords
- Build an Interesting/Captivating Brand
- Identify a Customer Pain Point
- Identify Customer Passions
- Go With Your Passion
- Look for an Opportunity Gap
- Consider Your Experience
- Capitalize on Trends Early
See the article for specific examples.
(2) The 17 Best Places Ecommerce Entrepreneurs Go To Find Product Ideas
by Richard Lazazzera Mar 31, 2018.
- Start with what you have
- Your local community
- Online consumer trend publications
- Industry leaders
- Product and trend discovery sites
- Social curation sites
- B2B wholesale marketplaces
- Online consumer marketplaces
- Social forum communities
- Social media networks
- On-site and third-party customer reviews
- SEO analytics and insights
- Consumer lifestyle publications
- Your competitors
- Audience surveys
- Look to the past
In this post we’ll go into detail about the best places to look for product inspiration and ideas. We’ll start with some broad ideas to get your head in the right space to start your search and then get into more specific resources closer to the end of the post.
2. Understand The Market
Now with a better understanding of your competitors and some indications of how well they are doing, it’s time to look a little closer at the market and direct interest from consumers.
(3) How To Evaluate Market Demand For Your New Product Idea
by Richard Lazazzera