Before you launch a product, a shiny new feature, or before you kick off a new plan to attack a new audience with your existing audience, you should validate it first.
Because it de-risks your launch. Idea validation lets you know that someone somewhere wants what you’re building before you devote thousands 🥱 of hours of labor.
And because too many people work B.S. jobs that don’t create anything of value; shouldn’t you ensure that you are delivering something useful before asking people to devote a chunk of their lives to making something that you ‘hope’ will be useful?
Your product’s go-to-market campaign should do 3 things:
- Find an audience.
- Identify their problem.
- Offer to fix it.
That’s it. But it can be surprisingly hard. I was speaking to someone today who had a startup idea for an NFT marketplace at the start of the year, built it, and launched it. And no one cared. The launch was a failure.
I’d advised him at the time to find a small target of people who would be passionate about some unique feature about his NFT marketplace. He insisted that his total addressable market was “everybody”. But he had no feature differentiation. He was about 10 months too late to the NFT hype train. And this guy who was super motivated about building an NFT marketplace that was gonna change the world and was so optimistic about what he was creating, was now angry and tired. He poured his heart and soul into an idea and when it launched no one cared.
Don’t be that guy. Validate your idea first.
And here’s how you start.
Targeting the right audience.
You kick off with just a landing page. That’s all you need to start. If you’ve got some friends or acquaintances who are in your target market, you can share your new landing page with them & get immediate feedback. It won’t tell you as much as hundreds or thousands of anonymous visitors to that page, but it gives you a high-quality early signal.
If you get some positive feedback on your idea from that LP, don’t start to build yet! People in your network are the easiest to persuade to try a new thing of yours. What you have to know is if you can convince complete strangers to give you a try, too.
There are two ways to do that:
- Submit your fancy new landing page to some places like Hacker News, a relevant subreddit, or some Facebook groups to try and find users organically
- Paid ads. Target the audience that you sell to with interest or follower targeting.
When you know how you’re targeting your audience, you’re ready to get some feedback from anonymous people who fit your conception of your buyer persona. Now you need to see if you can convince that audience that you can solve a problem for them.
Find a problem to solve.
That audience that you’re targeting will need you to try several different approaches to talking to them. One thing to keep in mind, though. You don’t want to talk about your product.
Your product that you’ve been thinking about for nights and days for the last few months? Your audience doesn’t care about it at all.
Talk about what it is that you *do* for your audience. Tell them how their life will be better after they’ve been a paying customer of yours for 90 days. Sell the benefit of your product, not the features you want to build.
By stating the benefit you provide, you’re defining the problem you solve for them. When you define their problem–and look for people who identify with the problem (and the benefit) that you are suggesting to them.
When you’re thinking about how to sell the benefits of the product that you want to build, you should consider how to best phrase the benefits that you’re talking about. There are 3 different common appeals that we use here at CrowdTamers to test different ways to discuss benefits of a product.
Make that benefit statement for your product with logic, emotion, and social proof and test each one.
Sell your offer.
There are 3 classic different kinds of offers that you make as your buyers move through their purchasing journey:
- Top of the funnel: Awareness.
- Middle of the funnel: Consideration.
- Bottom of the funnel: Comparison and Decision.
One of the things you will need to learn is where in their buying journey you are best able to attract your audience. Can you find them right before they buy? Or do you need to educate them that there’s even a product that can solve a problem that they’re confronting?
The only way to know which kind of audience you’re attracting is through changing the conversion action of your funnel. At the awareness stage, you need to hook them with a good piece of ungated content to drive awareness. Your main action to measure here is “did they read the content” with a small added bit of “did they sign up for the newsletter” as well.
At consideration level, you want a free demo, book a trial, watch an on-demand webinar, etc. People at that stage of the buyer’s journey are ready to find out if your offer meets their expectations for a fix to their problem.
Of course, you don’t have a product for them to try yet. In that case, I recommend that you still test the middle of the funnel as if you *had* a product, though.
So why should you validate your idea first?
When you validate first, you reduce the risk of anything you intend to build. Imagine if, after 2 or 6 or 24 months of building, you already had hundreds of actively interested prospects in a list, ready to start to try your actual product.
Imagine talking to investors or potential partners with confidence that you have already figured out exactly how you’re going to get your first users to pay you.
De-stress the worst part of any founder’s early stage life: the launch.
Next time you’re ready to buy a domain, before you get building, think about how you can validate your idea first.
You’ll be so much better off for it.