Market Testing A New Service

Creating a startup is a daunting task. Come up with an idea. Flesh it out enough to build a pitch deck and initial business model. Decide what your MVP (minimum viable product) needs to be. Test its viability. Decide the market need and size. Create the MVP or prototype. Convince funding from investors. Delegate funds to begin your new business. See it through to fruition by working tirelessly for months (or maybe years) on end. It’s a lot, and those are just the major talking points – that list of to-dos doesn’t even begin to cover the details of creating a startup.

One of the most critical and frequently misjudged steps is market testing. It’s easy to assume you’re idea is great and that people want it or that you need the entire product before you can test people’s interest. Deciding your market validity is key to moving beyond the initial steps of a startup. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to progress through market testing for your new business idea.

Market Testing Prerequisites

If you’re onto market testing, you should have these steps completed:

  • Have a well-rounded pitch deck. If you can effectively describe your overall product and how it’s going to benefit consumers, you’re at a great starting point.
  • Pinpoint a target market. Know who you need to be reaching out to and what group(s) of people will be most likely to buy or use your product and/or services.
  • Have answered these preliminary questions:
    • Who is your ideal customer?
    • What problems are you solving?
    • How does your product or service help solve said problem(s)?
    • What are the main aspects of your product?
  • Connect with your local startup scene. Startups and entrepreneurial ventures never begin in a vacuum. Have a group of people you can bounce ideas off. An open space to communicate and share is crucial to concept development and constructive feedback. Without this, you’re chances of making necessary changes and seeing flaws in your own concept is significantly lower. Plus, knowing people is always a good thing, especially in the business world.

Create A List of Questions

Think about the product you’re wanting to offer, be it a service or a physical product., and consider the ways people might perceive it. Write down a list of questions you’ll ask potential consumers, focusing on these things (we use the word “concept” to refer to a product or service):

  • What are your initial thoughts about this concept?
  • Would you be interested in using this concept?
  • Would other people you know be interested in using this concept?
  • What problem in your life might this concept solve?
  • What aspects of this concept don’t make sense?
  • What would you add to this concept?
  • Would you be willing to pay for this concept? How much?
  • Are there other things in your life similar to this concept? What about these existing concepts do you like or dislike?

Build off these questions to develop a well-rounded survey that will help you inform your product. The questions you create and eventual ask people should help you go back to the drawing board and also be usable for showing potential investors viable interest in your product.

Begin With Friends and Family

It may seem a little cliché, but friends and family the first place you should pitch your ideas. Practice your pitch on friends and family and then ask them the questions you’ve created. This early stage will help you decide whether or not your idea has legs. Since they’re friends and family, they’ll probably be a little more forgiving than most people (of course, that means you should really listen if they’re giving a lot of “constructive” feedback).

It’s at this point in the process that you should really be asking yourself, “is this a good idea?” Even if it is a good idea, perhaps it’s something that has already been created or there simply isn’t a need for it at the time. Either way, your idea should be able to withstand your own scrutiny. If you begin to feel unsure about your product or service, go back to the drawing board and work until you feel more confident. Startups can take a long time and absolutely take a lot of energy – keep checking your own concerns and others’ responses to make sure you’re not barking up the wrong tree.

During this process, make sure to ask open-ended questions and look for unique response opportunities. The safest way you can do this is by consistently asking the question “why.” “Why” should be your go to question if you’re looking for answers that will truly help narrow your market size expectations and develop your product via quality feedback.

Scope Out Likely User Communities

Once you’ve exhausted your friends and family circles (ideally, you’re looking for a total of 20 to 50 conversations), it’s time to move onto outside communities. By this time, hopefully you’ve identified who is most likely to use your product or service. Hop online and search for communities gathered around your product’s industry. Look at Facebook groups, use related hashtags on social posts, look for clubs or activist groups. Whatever your product is, look for spaces where likely customers would be willing to help you advance your product (and hopefully soon they’ll benefit from its creation).

Ask similar questions as you did with friends and family. This segment of information gathering should still be focused on quality content gathered via legitimate conversations. Work to get fleshed out responses. Dig deeper, ask open-ended questions, and always follow up with why.

Move Onto Surveys

Once you’ve established your idea’s validity and market need, go back to the drawing board. Tweak your model with the information you gathered during your friends and family questioning, and create another line of questioning for a larger audience. You’ll use the information gathered from broader surveys to help distinguish your concept when pitching to investors. Here are the various platforms you should check out for establishing further market sizing:

  • SurveyMonkey is the most streamlined and frequented survey platform on the web. It’ll cost you a monthly subscription, but hopefully you’re able to invest some money into your idea at this point.
  • Typeform allows you to create aesthetically pleasing surveys with a free trial. This survey maker based out of Barcelona boasts plenty of personalized tools for making your first surveys an easier process.
  • Survey Tandem is a unique platform that lets people trade surveys – it’s an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” sort of system. It’s free, easy to use, and might just bump your participant count to that next level.
  • Survey Circle is similar to Survey Tandem, except that it’s geared toward academic research. However, the concept is the same and you can still post your surveys here to be answered for free. We haven’t been able to get a hands-on look at this option, but it might be worth your time to check out.
  • Survey Hero provides a platform for distributing surveys across multiple platforms. If you’re wanting to go the social media route, Survey Hero could provide you the structure you’re looking for. Additionally, their base package offers unlimited survey distribution for free.
  • Social Media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are some of the easiest ways to get surveys out to the people. Conducting surveys in this fashion will most likely be an extended version of friends and family questioning – but hey, feedback is feedback.

Collect and Move Onto Your Next Steps

Once you’ve collected enough data (it’s best to have several hundred responses between interviews and online surveys), it’s time to crunch the numbers and relate them to product development and pitching. Narrow your target market, show how and why people could use your product or service, and use the numbers to back legitimacy.

Once you’ve finished this, it’s time to move onto the next steps. Get in front of people, look for investors, make pitches, and find a place to make a name for your startup. It’s a lot of work, but we know you’ve got this.