This sounds great in theory, but products and services don’t just sell themselves automatically.
In fact, nearly every business owner I know, including myself, has made the mistake of building a great product or service without first confirming that people actually want to buy it. Have you even been guilty of this too?
In those scenarios, I went out and formed a corporation, spent tons of time and money producing a product, and waited eagerly for the orders to come in….But guess what happened next? I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting…and very few orders came in.
How could this happen, when I had created the most amazing product that anyone could ever ask for? My product was worth thousands of dollars and I was only charging pennies in comparison. But why weren’t the orders flying in?
As I searched for the answer to that question, I studied the successes and failures of other successful businesses, including the huge corporate giants that I got to work with closely every day. I discovered a little secret – that there is a step-by-step process that successful business owners use when launching new companies and projects.
I started testing and tweaking that process within my own company. And guess what? It really works!
That process can be broken down into three simple steps that you can follow to identify and launch your own winning ideas.
At a high level, those three steps are:
* Step 1 – Vet Your Idea
* Step 2 – Build The Proper Foundation
* Step 3 – Market, Market, Market!
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Step 1 – Vet Your Idea
The first thing you should do before rushing out and creating the product or service is to vet your idea.
There are three components to vetting an idea, and they include: (A) perform market research; (B) test the idea; and (C) evaluate the test results.
(A) Perform Market Research
You first need to do some market research to see whether there is a market for your product or service.
Part of market research involves looking for other companies that already sell a similar product or service. It doesn’t have to be an identical product or service – but a similar one.
You can use a search engine to look for companies that sell a similar product or service. You can also use tools such as Quantcast to find competitive data on various industries and/or web sites.
Another part of market research involves getting a feel for the type of demand there is for that particular product or service. For example, are there a lot of competitors? How much are your competitors selling of it? How many people are searching for such a product or service online?
You can find answers to such questions using numerous tools that are readily available, such as the Google Keyword Tool.
While all of us would like to think that we could create a new market with our great ideas, the reality is that it is usually extremely difficult to create a market that does not already exist.
The key point with market research is to identify if you have any competition, and if anyone is searching for and buying this type of product or service. And in this case, competition is actually a good thing because it means there is a market for your type of idea (or the competitors would not be able to stay in business).
(B) Test The Idea
In this step in the process, you actually perform some tests to see if there is a demand for your actual idea (and not just the overall market).
There are various ways that you can do some tests that are both legal and ethical. Before you rush out and start advertising, you need to step back and think about the channels where you would like to sell your product or service.
Where are your ideal customers shopping, visiting, etc? What are their likes and dislikes? Do they use a computer? The answer to these questions will help you determine what type of tests to set up.
For example, if your ideal customers are business owners who all use a computer, then you might start with running some tests “online”. You could run some Pay Per Click advertisements on search engines such as Google or Bing or on the web sites they frequently visit and see if you get anyone to click on the ad. You could also put up an order page or a phone number to have customers call to place an order.
The topic of testing could warrant an entire training program itself, but here you just run some test advertisements to try and get a feel for whether anyone would buy your actual product or service if you offered it “for real”. If you want more info on testing and this overall process in general, please sign up for our free Business Mastery training session.
(C) Evaluate The Test Results
After you’ve done some testing, you evaluate the results of your testing to determine whether or not you appear to have a winning product or service.
There are a lot of factors that go into sales and marketing, so if you didn’t receive any orders during this testing process, it either means that your offer is not structured well (which you can fix and re-test), or it means that no one wants it regardless of how it is structured (which can’t be fixed).
Step 2 – Build the Proper Foundation
If your idea passed the testing step, then you can actually move forward with laying the foundation for your business. This includes forming a legal entity that offers some level of limited liability protection, such as an LLC, corporation, or partnership, if you don’t already have one.
You also create the actual product or service. You don’t need to get hung up on making it perfect, though. You just want to have something good enough to sell, but that isn’t so perfect you never will get it done. After all, you can always refine the product later after you have some sales and customer feedback.
In this step, you also setup the systems that you need to support customers, such as the phone system, email, web site, and other systems.
And the good news is that in today’s world of technology, it is not expensive or time consuming to setup the adequate systems that will allow you to run your business. Web sites can be created quickly and easily from templates and then customized. And virtual phone systems can be used if you want an inexpensive system that also offers flexibility in how your calls are routed.
Step 3 – Market, Market, Market!
Once you have laid the basic foundation and have created a decent version of your product or service, you can move forward with marketing.
This is the phase that you want to get to as fast as possible, because this is where the money is made. Your company does not generate revenue until a sale is made. This may sound obvious, but most businesses spend very little time on marketing in reality.
You should have at least one person (and possibly more) in your company who spends the majority of their time on marketing your business. After all, if you aren’t actively getting new people looking at what you have to offer, how can you expect to make more sales?
The best way to start your marketing is with the “low hanging fruit”. Go to the places where people are already looking for similar types of products or services, and ideally where they are in “buy mode”. Start with the huge marketplaces such as Amazon, iTunes, and eBay, and see if there is a fit for your product there.
You can also branch out to the other channels where people are looking for the type of product or service that you offer. Just figure out the places where your ideal customers hang out (both online and offline), and figure out how to get their attention in those places.
The good news is that there are over 100 different channels available today that you should consider for your business. Many of them are totally free, or where you don’t have to pay until you make an actual sale.
If you want more information about these 100 channels and this overall process, simply click here to sign up for our free Business Mastery training session.
In fact, this free Business Mastery training session (and handouts) reveals the secret formula to growing ANY business, even during a recession, while taking multiple vacations per year and working less hours.
*Originally published as the Inaugural Issue, and as Issue #183 on March 27, 2013