The wave of interest in startups has led to a lot of great companies being formed. It has also led to a lot of entrepreneurs spinning their wheels with ideas that will inevitably fail. The reason for this is that many startup founders don’t take the time to truly validate their idea before ever starting to build it.
The reason why a lot of people people don’t validate their idea first is that they are scared people won’t like it. While this is an understandable fear, it is much better to experience this before you launch a product. If you find out people don’t like your product after you create it you have just wasted time and money that you didn’t need to.
Luckily there is an easy way to validate your idea quickly and affordably that will also save you a lot of headache later on. Using this method to find an idea with traction early will help point you in the right direction early, and even launch with some new customers eager to sign up on day one.
The first thing that you need to do is create a landing page that is designed to capture a prospect’s email address. If you don’t know how to make one of these yourself don’t worry. Services like LeadPages or Unbounce have templates for you that take only a few minutes to set up.
The next thing you need to do is set up an ad campaign through Facebook or Google Adwords. If you don’t have your own budget to test on this platform search around for some coupons to get you started. Both Google and Facebook give away vouchers to introduce people to their platform. Ideally you want to test with at least a $100 budget so you get enough data to make an educated decision.
Place your ads in front of your target market (demographic and interest targeting for Facebook, keyword search targeting for Google). This part involves you knowing your ideal customers. If you don’t have an idea of this yet, stop everything and research this more before you test the idea. Once you have done this run the campaigns with a solid cost-per-click bid so your ads drive traffic quickly. Both platforms will give you a recommended bid so you have a solid baseline.
After you have ran your ads take a look at your conversion rate. If a decent number number of people are signing up you might be on to something. If you don’t get a nibble then pursuing this idea probably won’t be the best idea. If you got some leads, make sure to follow up with them and get more information. This can help you shape your product and find out what potential customers are looking for. It’s important to get as much information as you can from this process.
The method above is for people who want to gain insight and validate their ideas quickly. If you can’t find an ad voucher, aren’t in a rush, or just don’t want to mess with the technical stuff you can still validate your idea rather easily. It’s a bit more old-fashioned, but works just as well.
Find out communities (both offline and online) where your target market congregates. This could be an online forum, a local meetup, social media page, anything. Contribute and get involved with the community for a little while in order to better understand your customers and earn your place with them.
Once you have been accepted it will be very easy to gain feedback from them. Simply ask them if they would pay for your idea and ask for brutal honesty. If the idea doesn’t have any interest don’t worry, just ask again when you have another! Once you have a relationship with your potential customers they will understand that you are trying to provide a service that improves their lives, and should be quite helpful.
Doing one of these two methods will help you avoid wasting time with an idea that is doomed to fail. Validating your idea early on will help point you in the right direction and give you confidence when building it. Many entrepreneurs are switching to this style of idea validation, and I encourage you to do the same.