Test Product and Market and Business Model Ideas Prior to Launch? Yes!

If you are very early in the concept phase for your next adventure – regardless if it’s the revision of an existing hardware product or launching a new mobile app, plan that it will morph and redirect at least 5-7 times. In the very early stages, you may be reluctant to speak with too many people. What can you do to test your idea over the weekend when nobody’s looking?

1. Follow Search Engine rabbit trails and study and document the companies it leads you to. What are their products, what’s their positioning & pricing, who are their customers & partners? So much can be learned by good old fashioned research. Build your product comparison matrix.

2. Who are the mavens and speakers talking about your product category? Read their books, follow their blogs and observe what they and their clients are talking about. Have they updated their website recently? Is a new product launch pending? Maybe they have a pending speaking engagement you can attend – their audience is green field for you.

3. Keyword search tools and even Google AdWords have the ability to let you know what a) keywords companies in your domain are advertising to bring prospects to and b) what business and/or consumers are searching for to find ideas like yours. Map this against item 1. Above.

4. Social Faucets are a term I use to describe social media sites where your customers, vendors and partners congregate. Type in your product category and put the word ‘organization’ or ‘association’ or ‘event’ after it. This will bring you to organization pages that are discussing comparable products and what their members are talking about. If you are engaged with consumers – check Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Where are people congregating and what are they talking about? Don’t be fooled by volume – I’d rather follow a company with 250 ‘likes’ and active, relevant conversations than one with 25,000 ‘likes’ and a bunch of noise. You might even try LinkedIn. Most of your users are there too – what businesses are they in. If you are selling to businesses, LinkedIn is a must. Is a picture worth 1000 words? Create a Pinterest or ScoopIt board and see if they get re-pinned and commented on.

Whether we are working with a young first-time entrepreneur or a salty dog whose been selling the same product set for years and can’t figure out why their model no longer works, this is a necessary first step strategy for a new venture.