Kickstarter.com may work for some.
For anyone who's familiar with Eric Ries and his book The Lean Startup, he mentions something about, to paraphrase Eric, testing the waters before you even create a product. Sometimes you can actually create a minimum viable product and sell it to customers or you can see how customers respond even when you don't yet have any product. How might this be done? My main concern would be possibly violating certain ethical standards if a customer wished to buy a product I did not yet have. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Kickstarter.com may work for some.
I had the same question as you so I sent Neville of AppSumo (he made several of their courses, including the Sumo Business Blueprint and Kopywriting Kourse [not a typo]) an email and this is his response:
Hope that helps a little. I still haven't figured it out 100% yet.If you remember, Dollar Shave Club started before they officially had a product.
...however you're doing a slightly more "boring" business in the CRM space.
This means you might have to actually TALK to people doing hiring...and see if they'd be willing to pay for a service like yours.
You have WAY less people who do this, so they are very targeted and spread out.
You might want to research human resources concentions, magazines, forums etc and see what people need.
Ask a bunch of HR people if the software would work.
If you really want to validated it first, I'd say make a non-working "prototype" that shows screenshots of what the software will do, then show that to HR people for feedback. See if they'd be willing to pay for something like that.
I believe there was a way that you could see if the person actually went to pay for it but Pay Pal would not charge them as it would say out of stock.
Then you have their email and you can contact them if you decide to go ahead with the product.
But I don't remember the details.
For me as a customer I wouldn't be too broken up if this happen to me so I would say this is an ok way to test a product before you make it.
As sam22 posted, you can create a clickable prototype. Fireworks is a nice tool to do that but there other online tools too. In this way you can put the must-have features, create the prototype and show it to people.
Could you tell us how your service will work? So we can give you ideas that fit better to your MVP.
Mockflow. It doesn't make a site look realistic like Fireworks but it's free and gets the job done for what I need.
Obviously the 'copy' above is not perfect or anything, but you'll probably get the idea.
Benefits of this approach to you:
- You can test the actual sales page and find out conversion % (can be used if wanting the get affiliates)
- You can get direct access to potential buyers -> you can survey them, get them to spread the word (if you come up with cool ideas)
- You most likely make your first sales on the first day your product goes live --> can get reviews early on
Benefits for customer:
- Doesn't obligate them to do anything
- Can get a discount coupon
I haven't used this approach yet, but will surely use after I decide what will my next product be.
I hope this helps.
This post on the 4-hour-blog is a great source of inspiration to do a "lean" startup.
What I do, is setup a basic wordpress site. Make a "Buy" button with a link I track in Google Analytics.
I then do a simple ad on Facebook/Adsense (which also will tell my if people are interested in the idea at all).
Lets say I send 100 people to my test site from Facebook/Adsense. Then by using Google Analytics I can tell 5 people have clicked the "Buy now" link. These will give me a rough idea of how many people who are actually interested in buying the product.
Yes I'm aware, that many people who click "Buy" actually never buys, but this is an easy way to get some further insight to your idea.
How long does it take you to get 100 people to go to your sight from a Facebook ad?
How much does that cost you?
I have run a facebook ad for 4 months and not single click.
I think talking to actual people face-to-face would help too. That's what I've done with a few of my business ideas. When you talk to people about a product and 50% of them say "I would pay for that!", you're probably doing something right. Shoot, you could even ask them for their emails so you can let them know when it launches. Free leads
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