Testing for Interest / Relevance
Two easy ways to quantify interest are by setting up ads and landing pages. The objective for the ad or landing page is to collect clicks or other bits of information that your customer willingly gives you.
Google Ads are cheap and relatively painless to set up, provided you have a landing page already. You go through a couple of steps that prompt you to choose your target audience, keywords that trigger your ad, and two lines that describe your product or service. You can choose to pay only after a customer has clicked on your ad.
Landing pages are one-page websites that describe your value proposition and get your customer to take an action, such as completing a survey or giving you an email address. Thankfully, landing page platforms are ubiquitous and very easy to create. Startup Hustle uses unbounce.com to create landing pages in Workshop 3. In addition to being free and easy to use, the platform provides basic analytics. Paid versions offer more in depth analytics and higher page counts.
Testing for a customer’s willingness to give you money
Adding a “Buy Now” button to your landing page is a clear way to ask a customer to take the next step with you. It doesn’t mean that you must have something to sell, but it’s usually good to link the button to a Thank You page or a Subscribe form with a coming soon message.
If you’ve already got a Minimum Viable Product or some version of a prototype, you can show it to customers for Pre-Sale. Using crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow you to start selling your product or service to customers before it’s built, and also allow you to get the money you need for production from your customers without an equity commitment to investors.
The most important takeaway, however, is that cash your customers give you is the strongest indicator of both a willingness and ability to pay.
Testing for feature preferences
We’ve all talked about our business and have thought “wouldn’t it be cool if [insert good idea here].” After a few of these, we’re left with a complicated jumble of stuff that doesn’t seem possible anymore. This is known as feature creep.
To find out what’s really important to the customer (hint: it’s all really important but you gotta cut somewhere), we can use the A/B or split testing method. It is simply putting two versions of your value proposition in front of customers that differ in one aspect only.
Results from these tests will allow you to see which aspect is the most important for your customer. You can A/B test with ads by changing the word order or by using a different word entirely. You can also use your landing page by making a copy of it (unbounce will allow you to do this) and changing one thing at a time. Things like features, price points, and product names are good examples of things to test out.
If you can meet with your customers in person, you can ask them to play a quick game that gets them to prioritize their preferences. The folks over at strategyzer.com have some excellent game suggestions if you want to explore this further. The basic idea is to give your customer a set amount of play money and price your features so that your players can only “buy” some of them. Pay attention to their inner monologues while they’re prioritizing -- it’ll give you insight into which trade-off they are facing and how they sort through what’s most important to them.
Why should I do all this work before selling anything?
It should be obvious by now that there is a bit of work that goes into testing -- more work than would be necessary if we were just building one thing and selling it right away.
In fact, the case that it’s more work to do “all this testing” is built on assumptions that we already understand our customers, that we already know what they want, that we know how much they’ll pay for it, and that we can produce what they want for a price that works for everybody involved. Most products, even in established markets, go through constant evolution to meet customer demands and always costs money, time, and resources. Doing a little homework before we commit our finite resources not only saves time in the long run, but could be the difference between running out of money and actually creating profits.