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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
How am I best to test my product/concept before investing too much and going too far with design & printing? 

Question submitted 20/08/20 @ 04:29am
Industry: Start-ups
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  • Hey Amanda,

    Great question. If you can provide me a few more details I’m happy to explore ways in which you can test your concept!

    Can you tell me a little bit more about the problem you are solving? Who your customer is? What is your current stage of development? What customer research have you conducted so far to help validate your approach?

    Cheers,
    Adam

    You already have a great attitude of testing early and often! Keep up that mentality even as you gain traction in your business.

     

    Think of your business as an infinite set of lego. You have access to every single piece Lego has ever produced and you can use as many of those pieces as you want. There’s no point in spending months building the Taj Mahal when what your users really need is the Sydney Opera House.

     

    The problem is, in the early days, it’s impossible to know what that final product should look like. So, approach product development in a modular fashion with your lego pieces. Take five minutes to build an incredibly simple structure, like a square house with a flat roof and no windows. Give that to your customers, or potential customers, to use. Then, most importantly, gather their feedback. Maybe it’s totally wrong and you need to start again. Maybe you just need to change the colour of some of the bricks: that’s easy enough, you can just switch them out. Maybe you need you to add a pitched roof.

     

    The point of this metaphor is that you should identify the smallest, cheapest, easiest product that you can produce for testing purposes and get feedback before you fully production-ize it. And once your product is truly in production and you have active users, you should continue integrating feedback and adding and removing pieces based on that feedback.

     

    The “Thursday” and “Friday” chapters of the book/process “Design Sprints” has a great rundown on how to “fake” a product in Powerpoint/Keynote solely for the purpose of getting feedback from your users. The book itself is worth a read, but you can get a lot out of just reading the resources and watching the videos on that link above.

     

    Per Adam’s comment above if you can give us a little more context on your product/service/business, we might be able to give you more specific and actionable feedback on testing your product/concept.

     

    Good luck!

    Hi Amanda,

    The approach you take will depend on the type of product and target customer but here’s what I did to test one of my product concepts (enterprise HR software):

    Used https://www.canva.com/ (free and 30 day free trial for pro) to make a postcard style brochure (you don’t need any design skills to make a slick result as you can use free existing templates). I made a workflow of how my product worked and the problems it addressed on one side and then had an “I’d like to know more” response option with a few tick boxes, a free form note area and email address on the other side. I took it to a few conferences where my target audience gathered and showed it to quite a few delegates. Because it was something physical it gave the impression that I have already developed the product and I gathered some excellent feedback and market validation. Essential this simple piece of card acted as my MVP (Minimum Viable Product).

    Obviously, physical conferences are not running at the moment but you could perhaps publish a similar “postcard” to a FaceBook post or even a simple website (You can publish to a website using Canva). Maybe try some social posts or even some cheap ad words to drive traffic to the site and then see how many visitors click on the calls to action (Sign up to be first in line for the Beta release, sign up for a newsletter, send an equiry etc).

    This is a good read too around where to start – https://www.ycombinator.com/library/61-order-of-operations-for-starting-a-startup

    Hi Adam, certainly can, some more detail about my product…
    They’re called MINDSET CARDS. They’re a ‘deck’ (about 50 cards) to help people with mental wellbeing and resilience – they include ‘concepts’ and tools or ‘exercises’. They can be worked through in total or you can ‘try’ an exercise by itself.
    What is the problem you are solving? these cards are designed to ‘bridge a gap’ for people who are struggling with mental wellbeing and resilience and seeking professional help eg EAP services or formal counseling. As a ‘physical’ product (rather than digital) the have the added bonus of acting a ‘visual’ reminder in everyday use. Having personally dealt with my own mental wellbeing and resilience – I was searching for something that would help me to ‘identify’ I might be slipping backwards and I feel these cards could be filling a gap in the market.
    Who your customer is? People like me, anyone wanting to focus on their wellbeing or resilience, or people who might be struggling with stress and coping in the current climate. I’m also targeting large corporates who have a health and wellbeing programme to possibly give these cards to their employees.
    What is your current stage of development? I have created a ‘pack’ and tested the content with family and friends. I have initial design concepts and worked out a ‘wayfinding’ system to help people understand the cards/concepts/exercises. At the moment I’m weighing up the cost of designing the full pack and printing samples…or doing more market research.
    What customer research have you conducted so far to help validate your approach? As above, mainly family, friends and work colleagues (and yourself). I’ve done desk research and competitor analysis. As you would expect – most people have been very positive but also provided great feedback which I have used to refine the content I have now. At the moment my plan is to share the pack with as many people as I can for them to read and complete a short survey. Once I’ve done this I’m not sure whether I have done enough to be confident to spend the money doing a full design and print run (and how many to produce).
    Look forward to your thoughts?
    A

    Hi Adam, certainly can, some more detail about my product…
    They’re called MINDSET CARDS. They’re a ‘deck’ (about 50 cards) to help people with mental wellbeing and resilience – they include ‘concepts’ and tools or ‘exercises’. They can be worked through in total or you can ‘try’ an exercise by itself.
    What is the problem you are solving? these cards are designed to ‘bridge a gap’ for people who are struggling with mental wellbeing and resilience and seeking professional help eg EAP services or formal counseling. As a ‘physical’ product (rather than digital) the have the added bonus of acting a ‘visual’ reminder in everyday use. Having personally dealt with my own mental wellbeing and resilience – I was searching for something that would help me to ‘identify’ I might be slipping backwards and I feel these cards could be filling a gap in the market.
    Who your customer is? People like me, anyone wanting to focus on their wellbeing or resilience, or people who might be struggling with stress and coping in the current climate. I’m also targeting large corporates who have a health and wellbeing programme to possibly give these cards to their employees.
    What is your current stage of development? I have created a ‘pack’ and tested the content with family and friends. I have initial design concepts and worked out a ‘wayfinding’ system to help people understand the cards/concepts/exercises. At the moment I’m weighing up the cost of designing the full pack and printing samples…or doing more market research.
    What customer research have you conducted so far to help validate your approach? As above, mainly family, friends and work colleagues (and yourself). I’ve done desk research and competitor analysis. As you would expect – most people have been very positive but also provided great feedback which I have used to refine the content I have now. At the moment my plan is to share the pack with as many people as I can for them to read and complete a short survey. Once I’ve done this I’m not sure whether I have done enough to be confident to spend the money doing a full design and print run (and how many to produce).
    Look forward to your thoughts?
    A

    Hi @samblackman
    You’re spot on with your summary. My feeling is that I’ve ‘done enough’ to warrant the next step but then I don’t want to waste my money. Your ‘design sprint’ content is very helpful and similar to some other advice about how to cost-effectively create ‘sample’ material to test (which is what I’ve planned), if you have any more thoughts from the extra info I have provided Adam please let me know!
    Thank you so much,
    A

    @Sarah these are some really good suggestions too…
    “Maybe try some social posts or even some cheap ad words to drive traffic to the site and then see how many visitors click on the calls to action (Sign up to be first in line for the Beta release, sign up for a newsletter, send an equiry etc).”…
    – I’ve started setting up online but not fully and have some ideas about a content plan but this would drive ‘pre-launch’ traffic too. Yes, I’m familiar with Canva so that’s a good idea I hadn’t thought of.
    Thank you so much,
    A

    @andyadmin thanks for that link and your consideration!
    Thanks,
    A

    @apausina it is my and our pleasure – loved the korero with the whole crew above and you – happy weekend and starting up!

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