Thursday 11 April, 2013

Is There a Market for It? How to Find out

Have you got a million dollar idea that you just know is going to be huge? Well, hold your horses for a minute. As marketers, entrepreneurs and idea harvesters, we often forget one basic fact about business – it’s not what you think is awesome that will sell, but what everybody else thinks is awesome.

An important part of formulating your business plan is to research and see if there’s a market for your products and services, and here’s how you do it.

Get Ready to Learn

Before we talk specifics, you need to be in the right mindset. Good business ideas are fueled by the passion of their creators. But this passion can get out of control and cause you to lose your objectivity. Without your objectivity, you can’t see the writing on the wall when it says, ‘Your idea sucks,’ and sometimes you need to see it.

Here’s the right mindset – you’re open. You’re here to learn. You want feedback from your focus groups and research so that you know how other people feel about it. Your confidence may take a hit if you find out they don’t like it, and if it does, nurse that wound for a bit and then move on. You need to collect data and look at it objectively in order to find out if your plan will work or not.

Start with the Problem

Business ideas succeed because they solve a particular problem that a target market faces. Your business idea is the solution. But before you can really offer a solution, you need to be sure people have this problem and they’re willing to spend money to get rid of it.

Come Right out and Ask

First, you need to gather information on the problems your market faces. You’re lucky because today you don’t have to spend lots of money doing face-to-face focus groups and interviews. It can all be done online. One way to do this is to be a passive observer. The other is to ask.

As a passive observer, get onto online forums, join social media groups related to the problem, read blog comments, and so on. You’ll see what people are talking about. Is it a problem that comes up a lot?

When it comes to asking your target market, there are lots of ways to do it. You can use the same online channels as above to come right out and ask. On a forum where people are already discussing problems related to your product, this is easy. Other times you may have to give them some incentive like a coupon, discount or freebie.

Once you have a product developed, you need to test it before it hits the market. Give it away free to participants and see if it helps them solve their problem. Get their feedback and ask for ways it could be improved. Also ask how it compares to other solutions they’ve tried.

Back to the Drawing Board

If it turns out that your brilliant idea wasn’t so brilliant after all, don’t give up. What it needs may be some refining and revision. There are very few business ideas in the history of marketing that have ever worked out as-is. Marketers always have to go back to the drawing board and tinker with their ideas until they fly, and you’ll probably have to do this too.

Bob Steele

Bob Steele is an entrepreneur, software developer, marketer, and author living in the Denver metropolitan area. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves skiing, hiking, fishing, boating, and just plain having fun. His interests include games, space, technology, physics, cooking (well eating actually), economics, business, internationalism, and team sports. With over thirty years of professional consulting experience, Bob has been exposed to many diverse business models and has gained a sensible approach to life. Bob’s company, WaveCentric is focused on commerce, marketing, and entertainment related products.

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