Will People Buy My Product?
It really is the ultimate question – will people buy this?
I’m a firm believer that, as Simon Sinek so wonderfully put it; “Money is never a purpose, it is always a result..” However, at the end of the day, if we are not making money – we are not going to be in business for very long.
There’s no sure fire way to be 100% certain our product will sell. However, there are things we can do to increase our odds of success.
This is what we call product validation. So, let’s jump in.
The Early Days
Find Your People
You need to know who you are selling to. If you are selling to everyone, you are selling to no one because you have no way of defining them. You have no way of knowing what to communicate to them, what will resonate with them, what they need.
So, first, find who you are selling to.
Find Out What They Want
Different types of people have different types of needs and wants. Even from the same product.
Take education for example. A very broad topic indeed. Not only do people want to learn different subjects but they have very different goals and desired outcomes.
They also often want to learn in very different ways. Some people learn best in small, interactive seminars. Some people learn best by studying previous exam papers. Some people learn best reading the text book or listening to video lectures.
So what do your people want?
How Do We Find Out?
Forums and Facebook Groups
If you have no audience of your own, go find someone else’s. Make sure that you can get as close as of a match to your ideal customer as you can. No audience is going to be as good as directly asking your own, but if you are just starting out this is a good place to begin.
Go to online places, or real life places, where your audience hang outs.
Quora + Reddit
In the online world, an easy place to find people asking questions is in forums and Facebook Groups. Within general forums like Quora and Reddit you can drill down to find your sub-niche, or sub-Reddit as Reddit calls them.
Or you can simply Google ‘your niche + forum’ to bring up subject specific forums for your group.
Find Their Online Home
If you want to branch out a bit, just think where your ideal audience would hang out. For example, say you audience are business owners who handmade their goods, where would they be? Etsy? Etsy forums? Craft forums? Craft fair groups on Facebook?
Go to where your audience is and hang out there. Take note on a spreadsheet of frequent questions or frustrations that pop up day and day out. Start to build a database to work out what your audience most urgently needs a fix to.
Survey Your Audience
If you have any kind of audience at all, even if it’s just ten people on your email list – survey them.
You can use a free tool like SurveyMonkey to send out a survey asking them what they are currently struggling with. If you already have an idea of what kind of product you want to offer, ask them what they think about it.
Make sure to keep your question on point and unbiased. For example, many of us would like to phrase a question as “what did you like about this product?” rather than “did you like this product?”.
Don’t make any assumptions and give people the freedom to offer you constructive criticism, it may be hard to hear in the present but it is invaluable for your future.
Even better, ask people direct. When I suggest surveying your audience, many people say to me – well I have such a small audience, only one person replied. Don’t fret if you don’t get as many responses as you were expecting.
If you do have such a small audience, you might even have an advantage over someone with an audience of thousands. You can be personal. Reach out in a personal email to each one of your email subscribers, even if you only have five or ten. Ask them whether they would mind telling you want they are struggling with.
Get In Some One To One Time
If you can invite them to get on an actual phone call/Skype/Hangout then all the better. Having an actual one on one conversation with someone will bring in a gold mine of information.
If you don’t have a single person on your email list, go back to the Facebook approach. Pop into a group that you have been contributing value to and ask whether anyone would mind jumping on a ten minute call with you. Sounds terrifying I know – but trust me, it beats pouring your heart and soul into creating a product and no one buying it.
You might be surprised how many people are willing to chat with you – especially if you want to ask them about themselves. We love talking about ourselves.
Think outside of the internet world as well. Do you know anyone in real life who might be your ideal client? Ask friends, family and friends of friends who fit your ideal audience. Reach out on Facebook to people and tell them what you up to, you never know what might come of it.
Put Something Out There
Now that you’ve got a few ideas about what people are struggling with, you’ve tailored your product to best help solve their frustrations and wants, let’s test the waters.
Coming Soon Page
Put up a pre-sales page and see what kind of interest it generates. Tell everyone about it, your social media, your email list, your mother’s brother’s second cousin.
Start collecting those emails. If you’ve got a small list or following, don’t be too discourage if you don’t get many sign ups but if no one even visits the page – you know that you need to re-adjust your proposition.
You might find it helpful to install an app like SumoMe’s heat maps and content analytics. Heat maps will show you where on the page people have been clicking and content analytics will tell you how far down the page people read.
I find this useful for some of my longer sales pages as I can see what the average read was, judging where someone might have lost interest and editing the page accordingly.
Another benefit of putting together a coming soon page is that you can use this email list to look for beta testers. This is a group of people you send your skeleton product, sometimes called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to. It doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles attached to it at this point, but enough to give people the core of what you are offering.
Beta tester feedback can be invaluable, helping you get a better idea about what people like and didn’t like, would like taken out or benefits to be put in. If you are sending out a physical product, this can be a little expensive but you might want to combine it with an early review/limited edition prototype offer to generate some buzz before your formal launch.
Put Together a Prototype
Speaking of prototypes, sometimes the best way to find out whether something is going to sell is to, well, sell it. Obviously this isn’t always possible for every type of product, however sometimes putting together a few prototypes to test the market can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Use Drop Shipping To Test Demand
For example, if you are selling a new t-shirt design, you might want to put a few designs together and use a drop shipping company to fulfill orders. They might not be able to provide the quality, style or packaging of the final product but it saves you the cost of bulk buying a hundred t-shirts designs without a firm idea about the amount of sales you are going to make.
A little like our coming soon page but a little bit more hard core. This is where people sell the product, usually before they’ve finished creating it, to raise enough money to cover the cost of creating the product.
Get Paid To Work
Financially it makes complete sense. If no one pays you to make the product you haven’t wasted your time putting together something no one wants. If people do pay you, it gives you an idea of how popular it’s going to be and also gives you the funds to create it upfront.
Whether this approach is going to be right for you really depends on you and your business. Pre-selling creates tight deadlines that you need to work to, or you risk angering you early bird buyers if you don’t get it released on time.
There is also the risk, of course, that only a few people buy but not enough to validate your idea. In this case you have to end up issue a refund and looking a little red faced. However, hopefully, if you’ve gone through the product validation steps above, this shouldn’t happen – but it is certainly something worth considering.
Whilst we can never be 100% certain of anything in life, with business we should hope to remove as much of the mystery as possible.