Test marketing is probably THE most important part to starting a business and the one that is done the LEAST!!
. . . So why is that? Well, we (myself included) get so excited about our business idea that we just start developing our business plan or go to work on the business tasks. This is easy and many times the familiar part of the work . . .
We are either unaware we should even do any market research or we don't know how to go about it??? But if we take the time to do effective testing at the very beginning we can avoid many pitfalls and have valuable information for our SWOT Analysis and Business Plan.
To help us with some of the essentials of testing a new business idea, Sarita Harbour, provides some valuable insights in her article "New Business Idea? How to Test Before Launching", in the Business News Daily.
Below is a summary of some of her thoughts on test marketing your products or business idea before you get started:
So let's take a deeper look at these research tips:
1. It's always a good idea to let your idea incubate and grow. Some ideas can seem totally awesome in the moment -- then several weeks later, we can identify a variety of problems with the idea. Note: this doesn't mean you shouldn't necessarily proceed, but you need to be aware of how the negatives might impact your business model.
2. Running your idea by a group of critics can be helpful since they will point out objections you may need to overcome when you are working with your customers. A note of caution: Do not let the "nay-sayers" talk you out of your idea! Look for critics who are constructive vs. those who are negative about everything!
3. From the ideas obtained from the critics above, can you tweak your business idea to make it better for your customers? By making your products/services better, you will have an above average chance against your competition.
4. Test marketing can be done with a
website, on social media, or even with a Craigslist advertisement to
find potential customers. Make sure to collect the names and contact
information. Another idea I've recently read about is checking with online retailers to see what they are selling, who your competition might be, and how you can meet (or better) beat the competition!
5. Definitely publishing is helpful to get the word out about your business. And how about doing a speaking engagement -- start with a small group if you're afraid of public speaking . . . Ask for feedback about your ideas and always be open to constructive criticism to better your ideas and help you serve your customers.
Here are some additional ideas from Sarita about testing your ideas. These come from her article entitled, "5 Signs You've Got a Great Business Idea" also published in the Business News Daily. . .
Gotta say, I love these bullet points of Sarita's . . . they are right on the mark!
As you're doing your test marketing, make sure you're keeping these ideas in mind. Some additional quick notes:
1. This is a MUST! If no one needs or wants your product, you will not be able to help your customers and build your business. The ideas on these pages speak to products/services I believe are in need!
2. I may have a bit different read on this than Sarita. It is defnitely true that you'll make more money if your product reaches muliple markets. However, with the advent of the internet, there are a lot of individuals who are making decent incomes by identifying a very small micro niche and serving their customers well.
3. Marketing has moved into an arena where there is a "free" information, products, and giveaways provided today. You'll need to be aware of this fact and determine what your approach will be and how you'll compete against this growing trend.
4. Obviously, the faster your product/services spreads the better for you and your business. Having said that, business takes time and you need to have enough financial capital (maybe twice what you think you need) to allow your business with time to grow.
5. LOL!! I think another top author (ME!! Ha - another shameless plug!), writes about this all the time. We're back to identifying having a great "fit" for you personally based on your interests, skills, and experiences!! So important for the long-term viability of your company.
Make sure to bookmark this page and re-visit as you're developing your business ideas and plan! It will surely provide you with some terrific guidance!! :)