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Idea Generation To Execution: Fastlane Millionaire's Step By Step Guide

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yagya567

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Apr 3, 2022
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OK guys, I thought the testing framework was going to be the next step, but as I sat down to write it I realized there is another in between step. Never fear, I should have the juicy testing framework that many have been waiting for written and posted by sometime next week.

The Preliminary Research Framework:

So now that you have a unique issue that needs solving, it is time to move on to the next step. Here are the first questions I ask myself when starting this part. Some of the steps blend together and feed into each other.
  1. What is the actual issue that I am solving or value that I am providing?
    • We like to call this The Rub . It's your angle. It's why people are buying your product or service. This is a crucial thing to nail down as it will be your guiding light. You need to know what is setting you apart from the other guys. It could be the product itself, where you are marketing the product, how you are marketing it, or some combination of them all.
  2. Is this issue solvable?
    • This should be self explanatory. You now have to do the preliminary research to see if it is possible to solve this issue. There are SO MANY resources out there these days that make this possible. My favorite ways of doing this is starting by googling the issue and reading as much as I can about it. Articles are a good start. Forums are great resources as well. See how everyday people are solving this issue. The hive mind sometimes knows things before the experts. Speaking of experts, see what experts are saying about it by going to scholar.google.com. Read the papers on the topic. If you have access to a college/university login, alot of times you get free access to databases of research that may otherwise be paid to view. The point here is not necessarily to become an expert. It is to figure out if there are any realistic solutions to the issue and maybe even what other value to your customers you can provide with your product.
  3. How much expertise, resources, and dedication would it take to solve it?
    • After doing the preliminary research in the last step, you should have a general feel for what the problem is and the roadblocks in solving it. Think about what it would take to solve the issue.
  4. Can I physically do what is necessary and do I want to do it?
    • These questions kind of blend together, but they are both very important. Is this realistically possible for you to do? Do you want to make the sacrifices that it takes to do it? As someone that is already successful, I am much more particular with the sacrifices I am willing to make. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you should be willing to do ALOT more to succeed.
The answers to these questions should help you decide whether you should move on to the next step. There are always trade offs involved. The harder the issue is to solve, the easier time you will have protecting your market share. The easier it is to solve, the faster you will have competitors at your doorstep. There are unlimited things to solve, so if you are a beginning entrepreneur, I suggest going with less challenging solves that you can come up with good ways of testing.

The Preliminary Research Example
  1. What is the actual issue that I am solving or value that I am providing?
    • This is an easy one for my example. My product will address the special needs of people with colored and blonde hair. The issue that I am solving is that sunscreen discolors blonde and colored hair.
  2. Is this issue solvable?
  3. How much expertise, resources, and dedication would it take to solve it?
    • Sunscreens that do not have Avebenzone, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, and Octocrylene are the solution. These already exist out there so it would take minimal work to get this idea off the ground. I don't even have to move onto the next steps or other research techniques because of how simple the answer was.
  4. Can I physically do what is necessary and do I want to do it?
    • Another easy one! Googling "how to produce a sunscreen" produces a ton of examples how to make sunscreen. Everything from homemade solutions to contract manufacturers that will make one for you.
So far, this is the ideal result for a beginning entrepreneur. There is an issue, there are people talking about the issue, there seems to be easy solutions to the issue, and there are no products directly marketed as a solution to the issue. Your own example may not line up as perfectly and that may be ok! You may still be able to figure it out and produce a very strong product that sells like hotcakes.

Testing is next!
Awaiting for testing super eagerly:)
 
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DougRMR

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Apr 19, 2019
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After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase. Research Phase and then finally comes the Testing Phase.

EDIT:
Here is my next post in the series: The Preliminary Testing Phase
Just to add for the benefit of everyone, since I've had very interesting results following your steps: Once you find a solution, I suggest you Google "solution + problem + forum" and see how many other people have figured the solution out. Also, that scholar Google thing is a God send!

Anyways, I do have a question. It turns out this solution I found is actually an umbrella solution for many other things that is already in the market. It just so happens (from what I can tell) the niche that has the problem I looked up hasn't caught up that this can help. Is it worth it to make a separate brand and marketing plan for this specific niche even though this solution is marketed in other places? I don't know if this makes sense.

To put it simply: there is a supplement out there that has helped a ton of people feel relief over a problem. A niche of people (which is the one I found) haven't seemed to realize that this crosses over to them and can help them. I also don't know if the niche is big enough, though. Thank you!
 

arivera

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May 23, 2020
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Solo para agregar para el beneficio de todos, ya que obtuvo resultados muy interesantes siguiendo sus pasos: una vez que encontró una solución, le sugiero que busque en Google "solución + problema + foro" y vea otras personas que han encontrado la solución. ¡Además, esa cosa del erudito Google es un regalo de Dios!
¡Hola amigo!, puedes profundizar este punto con un ejemplo.
 
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DougRMR

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Apr 19, 2019
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Hello friend! Can you deepen this point with an example?
Sure thing man. I'll answer in both languages, pardon Google Translate's wonky grammar:

So for example, if you see somewhere that a possible solution for hair loss is coconut oil, go to Google and search "hair loss coconut oil forum" and see if there are people in forums talking about these solutions more in depth. Here, you might find testimonials from people to see if it has worked for them. You can also do "hair loss coconut oil reddit" or search Google Scholar with just "hair loss coconut oil"

Entonces, por ejemplo, si ve en algún lugar que una posible solución para la pérdida de cabello es el aceite de coco, vaya a Google y busque "foro de aceite de coco para la pérdida de cabello" y vea si hay personas en los foros que hablan sobre estas soluciones con más profundidad. Aquí, puede encontrar testimonios de personas para ver si les ha funcionado. También puede hacer "aceite de coco para la pérdida de cabello reddit" o buscar en Google Scholar con solo "aceite de coco para la pérdida de cabello"
 

NeoDialectic

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Just to add for the benefit of everyone, since I've had very interesting results following your steps: Once you find a solution, I suggest you Google "solution + problem + forum" and see how many other people have figured the solution out. Also, that scholar Google thing is a God send!

Anyways, I do have a question. It turns out this solution I found is actually an umbrella solution for many other things that is already in the market. It just so happens (from what I can tell) the niche that has the problem I looked up hasn't caught up that this can help. Is it worth it to make a separate brand and marketing plan for this specific niche even though this solution is marketed in other places? I don't know if this makes sense.

To put it simply: there is a supplement out there that has helped a ton of people feel relief over a problem. A niche of people (which is the one I found) haven't seemed to realize that this crosses over to them and can help them. I also don't know if the niche is big enough, though. Thank you!
That is usually a GREAT thing for someone starting out. It means you have an easy time making the product or testing the product. It is obviously more likely to be encroached by competitors faster, but success is success.
 

DougRMR

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Apr 19, 2019
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That is usually a GREAT thing for someone starting out. It means you have an easy time making the product or testing the product. It is obviously more likely to be encroached by competitors faster, but success is success.
Awesome! Been waiting eagerly for the testing post. Took me about three tries of your strategy to find the niche but it was worth it. Will keep on doing the research but so far, I haven't seen a study from Google Scholar disproving what I'm thinking nor any review saying otherwise.
 
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NeoDialectic

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The Testing Framework:

You have finally arrived at the most crucial step. Remember, no matter how genius you think your idea is, you are not the market. Entrepreneurship is like gambling. If you are like me, you don't like gambling when the odds are not your favor. So you want to do your best to change your odds from the odds of the player, to the odds of the house. That means having a long term mindset and leaving enough for next time. You may lose this time, but if you learn and keep trying then the odds are in your favor of winning over the long term. That is why I don't recommend blowing all your resources on your first idea. Of course it is possible that you can bet it all on 00 on the roulette table and win. But it is not likely.

So with that in mind, you have to give the idea your spiritual all but not have it ruin you. You can't keep trying when you used all your mana on the first try. This can mean different things to different people. The larger the investment you make, the faster and more accurately you finish this part. Only you can decide what is right for you. @fastlane_dad and I have always bootstrapped as much as we can through the beginning stages. We replaced investment capital demands with creativity. Hopefully I can show you how to do that as well.

This part of the process will rely heavily on you answering the 1st question from the Preliminary Research Example correctly and concisely. You want to try and figure out how you can solve the issue or provide the value to the customer with as little monetary investment as you can. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Making something at home
  • Repurposing an existing product
  • Finding private label alternatives
  • Negotiating small samples
  • A combination of all these things
This is probably the one step that is the most diverse and difficult to make concise steps for. Most people would be surprised by the type of things you could test. However each type of issue/product may require it's own type of test. Once you have practiced this exercise enough, it will become easier and easier to see the way.

One of the biggest roadblocks people have in their thinking is believing that their product needs to be perfect. That is far from the truth. During your testing phase, the first thing you put out can be rudimentary in most areas as long as it is effective in the specific value you are proposing to solve. Once you get a good market signal from testing, then you can scale up investment on par with the signal and you can pour your heart and soul into the final product. You will find that along the way during the testing phase, you may actually have to adapt your mission statement and end up somewhere completely different!

Another roadblock is thinking that their solution isn't worth the money your customer will give you. If you naturally think this, it may be hard to shake this feeling. But you should be able to solve any guilt associated with this concern easily. This is how we do it...We legitimately want all our customers happy. So we provide a very liberal return policy. If the customer is not satisfied, they get an instant refund and a thank you for giving us a shot. It's no skin off their back. We want everyone to walk away happy. As long as you are solving the customers issue, most people will be happy. Those that aren't, get their money back.

Keep in mind that once you start getting sales, these methods should be phased out and turned into something high quality. The point of this exercise isn't how to make the fastest money by producing the crappiest product. The point is to figure out if you should spend your valuable time and resources on making the best product to solve the problem. Making the best product you can usually means something high quality, well thought through, and just overall something you can be proud of. A better product will get more more happy customers, reorders, more referrals, less refunds, and a leg up on competitors when they finally come.

The Testing Example:

During our research in the previous parts, it became clear that a solution already exists that just isn't marketed this way. Mineral sunscreens do not have the offending chemicals and are widespread. This gives us a wide array of choices.

Side note: Remember when I said a roadblock is thinking your solution isn't worth the money? This is a place where many people would feel that way. They think just because you are selling the customer an existing product, that you are somehow pulling one over on the customer. That is a very incorrect way of looking at things. Knowledge isn't free. My mother wouldn't sit there researching what ingredients won't discolor her hair. She has better things to do with her time. She would just go on Amazon and type color safe sunscreen, or something of the sort. Currently, no one is giving her an option that she could immediately be comfortable buying without doing more digging. You will. There's nothing misleading or bad about that. That is a huge value add. Every time we buy something based on a brand, we do this too. We use the brand as a heuristic to mean "this is a well enough known brand that even though it may not be the absolute best, I think it will be good enough to solve my issue and I am willing to spend a little more for the brand name to ensure that without doing my own research". Most of us do this and are more than willing to pay for this shortcut!​

Different types of product have their own set of testing solutions. Here are a diverse set of examples for this type of product.

The quickest most unethical way
You can create a mock product with 3d renderings. You will either prevent the order from being placed (on your own website) or cancel orders that are placed. Not only may this not be ethical, but there are also other issues. If you are preventing an order being placed by doing something like giving an error during checkout, then you don't actually know if the customer would have went through with it. Carts are abandoned all the time. If you are cancelling orders, this could get you into hot water very fast in most the marketplaces and you may find your account at risk and you stuck at go before you even began. So we do not recommend this route if at all possible.

The quick hands on way
It looks like the fastest ways to have a product in hand to test for this example is by making sunscreen at home.
Side note: Think no one wants your homemade sunscreen? O ye, of little faith. Why don't you type in "sunscreen" into Etsy.com search and see how many sales are happening. Even when the customer knows that it is literally hand made in a random mom's kitchen, they are still more than happy to buy it.​
The tradeoff with this is that you have to do more research into regulations and you have to be willing to get your hands literally messy. This is a completely acceptable solution. We have done the equivalent of this and there is nothing unethical about this as long as you do this legitimately and follow any regulations. Don't let regulations scare you away. You can google "regulations to produce sunscreen" and there will be a ton of info on it, including directly from the FDA. A quick shortcut for regulations on labelling is just to copy existing products labels and change the design elements while keeping the same structure and wording.

The best part about this way is that with enough motivation you could literally have a product in your hands by the end of the day. More realistically you could have something within a week or so. Do the research on how to make one online, buy the ingredients, the bottles, get a local place to print labels and you are on your way! Use google at every step of the way.

  • "How do I make a mineral sunscreen"
  • "Where do I buy X ingredient"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump bottle"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump"
  • "Where can I print a label"
You can either do the designs yourself or hire someone on some place like fiverr.com to do it.

Remember....you aren't optimizing for cutting cost or absolute highest quality here. You just want something "good enough to get the job done" and while still reasonably priced in low quantities.

We wouldn't currently do this as we have money to invest, but this is a decent choice.

The quick hands off way
This is the way we would likely do things right now. I would google for "private label mineral sunscreen" and start calling places. Here are two places that I chose for this example. Keep in mind that I chose them strictly as an example because of how easy it was to find the price. I have never used them and have no idea how good the product is:


Code:
https://www.wildwestskincare.com/collections/sunscreen-with-zinc-titanium-dioxide
https://proceuticalspl.com/


The first one doesn't look as visually appealing but I can get singles for $37 or 10 at $20 a piece. The second one looks more professional in my opinion and the minimum order number is $24 at a cost of $25.50 a unit. Many private label companies will give you label templates and even make sure you are following regulation on the label. This may ease some peoples anxiety with doing it yourself.

So for $37 + shipping you can have a real product in your hand and be in the market very quickly! Or you may choose to invest a couple hundred to get a more professional looking starting batch. Again, this depends on your circumstances and goals. Don't forget that you can usually negotiate with these companies. There are dozens that provide these services and with a well thought through phone call you may be able to get a very good product, at a very low quantity and at a good price.

The traditional route
I won't spend to much time on this since this is the most intuitive route. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the traditional route. You find a contract manufacturer that makes your types of product. You start a relationship with them and discuss your requirements for the product. They will be glad to provide you stock formulas for the type of product you want to make and then you have to do more research on how you would want to customize it. For example, you would ask them to provide you with a sample of a stock mineral sunscreen. If you like their sample, you would ask them to add X, Y, Z ingredient to it to provide even more value to your customer. Or maybe there is an expensive ingredient that most don't use but you can because you will price your product accordingly. The guy you talk to can be a wealth of knowledge as this is what they do all day and they too want you to succeed. So don't be afraid to ask. Doing this could demand a $3,000 - $10,000 investment. Depending on alot of factors.

At this point in our career, there is a good chance that we would do things this way. A few thousand dollar investment isn't much for us and we could go straight to providing as much value as possible with a custom end product. If the test succeeds, we would still try to improve the product from this step based on feedback or more research we have done. But If we fail, we would have alot more personal investment where that came from so we could easily shrug it off. That's why I said your level of investment and commitment is a very personal thing.

Conclusions:

So these are the ways you can get up and running very quickly to test the market for your product. If you have touched on a strong market need, you will know immediately. But don't be discouraged if results are first lackluster. You should try different marketing and different angles of attack. Many successful products will start off with only selling very slowly. This is still a huge win! Many people will be turned away because of the inherent flaws in your test mule. But you only gambled small financial investment and now you are more confident in investing the required time and financial resources to make that AWESOME product that will drive a productocracy. This is where you become an expert in all things sunscreen and colored/blonde hair. You can spend days/weeks/etc properly researching people's experiences online/offline and even scientific papers written on these topics and ingredients. Then you go through the iterative steps of creating a good presentable products. But again, you are doing all this knowing that when you have the final product in hand you, people are going to be snatching it out of your hands! Too many aspiring entrepreneurs spend all day at the creation phase and either come up with a spectacular product that no one wants or give up because they lose motivation through the slow creation phase. There's nothing like sales coming in on your test mules to continue motivation you during this phase.

A strong immediate response is usually the best thing you could hope for, but don't write off slow responses or product you have to tweak. They can still become big hits or even if they don't, a milquetoast response product can still make you more than the US median salary. That's the power of being the producer.

We have ordered our "final" product as soon as within 1 week of starting the test phase or as late as months after. It all depended on the market response, whether we had to keep tweaking/testing and how much time we had to dedicate to this product at the time.

Epilogue:

Alright guys. Hopefully all this has helped you guys peek behind the curtain a little bit and got you going in the right direction. As I have been writing this series, I see there is probably a lot more that needs to be addressed. For example I do have alot of failed examples during the Idea phase that would show good lessons. There are also countless examples I could make of how to test different types of products. When you see enough of them, you can start picking up on the similarities and it becomes easier formulating your own successful tests. I think there are probably steps that I glossed over that deserve their own focus as well, like the marketing/ad copy/listings/etc. Let me know which areas still leave you scratching your head. So I may continue the series in the future. But for now, I'm exhausted of writing! :rofl:
 

TheMethodX

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The Testing Framework:

You have finally arrived at the most crucial step. Remember, no matter how genius you think your idea is, you are not the market. Entrepreneurship is like gambling. If you are like me, you don't like gambling when the odds are not your favor. So you want to do your best to change your odds from the odds of the player, to the odds of the house. That means having a long term mindset and leaving enough for next time. You may lose this time, but if you learn and keep trying then the odds are in your favor of winning over the long term. That is why I don't recommend blowing all your resources on your first idea. Of course it is possible that you can bet it all on 00 on the roulette table and win. But it is not likely.

So with that in mind, you have to give the idea your spiritual all but not have it ruin you. You can't keep trying when you used all your mana on the first try. This can mean different things to different people. The larger the investment you make, the faster and more accurately you finish this part. Only you can decide what is right for you. @fastlane_dad and I have always bootstrapped as much as we can through the beginning stages. We replaced investment capital demands with creativity. Hopefully I can show you how to do that as well.

This part of the process will rely heavily on you answering the 1st question from the Preliminary Research Example correctly and concisely. You want to try and figure out how you can solve the issue or provide the value to the customer with as little monetary investment as you can. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Making something at home
  • Repurposing an existing product
  • Finding private label alternatives
  • Negotiating small samples
  • A combination of all these things
This is probably the one step that is the most diverse and difficult to make concise steps for. Most people would be surprised by the type of things you could test. However each type of issue/product may require it's own type of test. Once you have practiced this exercise enough, it will become easier and easier to see the way.

One of the biggest roadblocks people have in their thinking is believing that their product needs to be perfect. That is far from the truth. During your testing phase, the first thing you put out can be rudimentary in most areas as long as it is effective in the specific value you are proposing to solve. Once you get a good market signal from testing, then you can scale up investment on par with the signal and you can pour your heart and soul into the final product. You will find that along the way during the testing phase, you may actually have to adapt your mission statement and end up somewhere completely different!

Another roadblock is thinking that their solution isn't worth the money your customer will give you. If you naturally think this, it may be hard to shake this feeling. But you should be able to solve any guilt associated with this concern easily. This is how we do it...We legitimately want all our customers happy. So we provide a very liberal return policy. If the customer is not satisfied, they get an instant refund and a thank you for giving us a shot. It's no skin off their back. We want everyone to walk away happy. As long as you are solving the customers issue, most people will be happy. Those that aren't, get their money back.

Keep in mind that once you start getting sales, these methods should be phased out and turned into something high quality. The point of this exercise isn't how to make the fastest money by producing the crappiest product. The point is to figure out if you should spend your valuable time and resources on making the best product to solve the problem. Making the best product you can usually means something high quality, well thought through, and just overall something you can be proud of. A better product will get more more happy customers, reorders, more referrals, less refunds, and a leg up on competitors when they finally come.

The Testing Example:

During our research in the previous parts, it became clear that a solution already exists that just isn't marketed this way. Mineral sunscreens do not have the offending chemicals and are widespread. This gives us a wide array of choices.

Side note: Remember when I said a roadblock is thinking your solution isn't worth the money? This is a place where many people would feel that way. They think just because you are selling the customer an existing product, that you are somehow pulling one over on the customer. That is a very incorrect way of looking at things. Knowledge isn't free. My mother wouldn't sit there researching what ingredients won't discolor her hair. She has better things to do with her time. She would just go on Amazon and type color safe sunscreen, or something of the sort. Currently, no one is giving her an option that she could immediately be comfortable buying without doing more digging. You will. There's nothing misleading or bad about that. That is a huge value add. Every time we buy something based on a brand, we do this too. We use the brand as a heuristic to mean "this is a well enough known brand that even though it may not be the absolute best, I think it will be good enough to solve my issue and I am willing to spend a little more for the brand name to ensure that without doing my own research". Most of us do this and are more than willing to pay for this shortcut!​

Different types of product have their own set of testing solutions. Here are a diverse set of examples for this type of product.

The quickest most unethical way
You can create a mock product with 3d renderings. You will either prevent the order from being placed (on your own website) or cancel orders that are placed. Not only may this not be ethical, but there are also other issues. If you are preventing an order being placed by doing something like giving an error during checkout, then you don't actually know if the customer would have went through with it. Carts are abandoned all the time. If you are cancelling orders, this could get you into hot water very fast in most the marketplaces and you may find your account at risk and you stuck at go before you even began. So we do not recommend this route if at all possible.

The quick hands on way
It looks like the fastest ways to have a product in hand to test for this example is by making sunscreen at home.
Side note: Think no one wants your homemade sunscreen? O ye, of little faith. Why don't you type in "sunscreen" into Etsy.com search and see how many sales are happening. Even when the customer knows that it is literally hand made in a random mom's kitchen, they are still more than happy to buy it.​
The tradeoff with this is that you have to do more research into regulations and you have to be willing to get your hands literally messy. This is a completely acceptable solution. We have done the equivalent of this and there is nothing unethical about this as long as you do this legitimately and follow any regulations. Don't let regulations scare you away. You can google "regulations to produce sunscreen" and there will be a ton of info on it, including directly from the FDA. A quick shortcut for regulations on labelling is just to copy existing products labels and change the design elements while keeping the same structure and wording.

The best part about this way is that with enough motivation you could literally have a product in your hands by the end of the day. More realistically you could have something within a week or so. Do the research on how to make one online, buy the ingredients, the bottles, get a local place to print labels and you are on your way! Use google at every step of the way.

  • "How do I make a mineral sunscreen"
  • "Where do I buy X ingredient"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump bottle"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump"
  • "Where can I print a label"
You can either do the designs yourself or hire someone on some place like fiverr.com to do it.

Remember....you aren't optimizing for cutting cost or absolute highest quality here. You just want something "good enough to get the job done" and while still reasonably priced in low quantities.

We wouldn't currently do this as we have money to invest, but this is a decent choice.

The quick hands off way
This is the way we would likely do things right now. I would google for "private label mineral sunscreen" and start calling places. Here are two places that I chose for this example. Keep in mind that I chose them strictly as an example because of how easy it was to find the price. I have never used them and have no idea how good the product is:


Code:
https://www.wildwestskincare.com/collections/sunscreen-with-zinc-titanium-dioxide
https://proceuticalspl.com/


The first one doesn't look as visually appealing but I can get singles for $37 or 10 at $20 a piece. The second one looks more professional in my opinion and the minimum order number is $24 at a cost of $25.50 a unit. Many private label companies will give you label templates and even make sure you are following regulation on the label. This may ease some peoples anxiety with doing it yourself.

So for $37 + shipping you can have a real product in your hand and be in the market very quickly! Or you may choose to invest a couple hundred to get a more professional looking starting batch. Again, this depends on your circumstances and goals. Don't forget that you can usually negotiate with these companies. There are dozens that provide these services and with a well thought through phone call you may be able to get a very good product, at a very low quantity and at a good price.

The traditional route
I won't spend to much time on this since this is the most intuitive route. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the traditional route. You find a contract manufacturer that makes your types of product. You start a relationship with them and discuss your requirements for the product. They will be glad to provide you stock formulas for the type of product you want to make and then you have to do more research on how you would want to customize it. For example, you would ask them to provide you with a sample of a stock mineral sunscreen. If you like their sample, you would ask them to add X, Y, Z ingredient to it to provide even more value to your customer. Or maybe there is an expensive ingredient that most don't use but you can because you will price your product accordingly. The guy you talk to can be a wealth of knowledge as this is what they do all day and they too want you to succeed. So don't be afraid to ask. Doing this could demand a $3,000 - $10,000 investment. Depending on alot of factors.

At this point in our career, there is a good chance that we would do things this way. A few thousand dollar investment isn't much for us and we could go straight to providing as much value as possible with a custom end product. If the test succeeds, we would still try to improve the product from this step based on feedback or more research we have done. But If we fail, we would have alot more personal investment where that came from so we could easily shrug it off. That's why I said your level of investment and commitment is a very personal thing.

Conclusions:

Ce sont donc les moyens par lesquels vous pouvez être opérationnel très rapidement pour tester le marché de votre produit. Si vous avez touché à un besoin fort du marché, vous le saurez immédiatement. Mais ne vous découragez pas si les résultats sont d'abord ternes. Vous devriez essayer différents marketing et différents angles d'attaque. De nombreux produits à succès commenceront par ne se vendre que très lentement. C'est quand même une énorme victoire ! Beaucoup de gens vont être refusé en raison des défauts inhérents à votre mule de test. Mais vous n'avez parié qu'un petit investissement financier et maintenant vous êtes plus confiant pour investir le temps et les ressources financières nécessaires pour fabriquer ce produit IMPRESSIONNANT qui conduira à une productocratie. C'est là que vous devenez un expert en matière de crème solaire et de cheveux colorés / blonds. Vous pouvez passer des jours/semaines/etc à rechercher correctement les expériences des gens en ligne/hors ligne et même des articles scientifiques écrits sur ces sujets et ingrédients. Ensuite, vous passez par les étapes itératives de la création d'un bon produit présentable. Mais encore une fois, vous faites tout cela en sachant que lorsque vous aurez le produit final en main, les gens vont vous l'arracher des mains ! Trop d'entrepreneurs en herbe passent toute la journée à la phase de création et proposent un produit spectaculaire dont personne ne veut ou abandonnent parce qu'ils perdent leur motivation au cours de la phase de création lente. Rien de tel que les ventes de vos mules d'essai pour continuer à vous motiver pendant cette phase.

Une réponse immédiate forte est généralement la meilleure chose que vous puissiez espérer, mais n'écartez pas les réponses lentes ou les produits que vous devez modifier. Ils peuvent toujours devenir de grands succès ou même s'ils ne le font pas, un produit de réponse milquetoast peut toujours vous rapporter plus que le salaire médian américain. C'est le pouvoir d'être le producteur.

Nous avons commandé notre produit "final" dès la semaine suivant le début de la phase de test ou jusqu'à des mois après. Tout dépendait de la réponse du marché, si nous devions continuer à peaufiner/tester et combien de temps nous devions consacrer à ce produit à l'époque.

Épilogue:

D'accord les gars. J'espère que tout cela vous a aidé un peu à jeter un coup d'œil derrière le rideau et vous a mis dans la bonne direction. Pendant que j'écrivais cette série, je vois qu'il y a probablement beaucoup plus qui doit être abordé. Par exemple, j'ai beaucoup d'exemples ratés pendant la phase d'idée qui montreraient de bonnes leçons. Il existe également d'innombrables exemples que je pourrais donner sur la façon de tester différents types de produits. Lorsque vous en voyez suffisamment, vous pouvez commencer à repérer les similitudes et il devient plus facile de formuler vos propres tests réussis. Je pense qu'il y a probablement des étapes que j'ai passées sous silence qui méritent également leur propre attention, comme le marketing/la copie publicitaire/les listes/etc. Faites-moi savoir quels domaines vous laissent encore vous gratter la tête. Je pourrai donc continuer la série à l'avenir. Mais pour l'instant, j'en ai marre d'écrire !:ROFL:
I really liked the techniques and advice you gave during this study.
My question is about the different product testing techniques, especially digital products.
If you had used digital products, how did you deal with the testing phase?
 

NeoDialectic

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I really liked the techniques and advice you gave during this study.
My question is about the different product testing techniques, especially digital products.
If you had used digital products, how did you deal with the testing phase?

Can you give me an example of what you are talking about?
 
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ItsKaryn

New Contributor
May 26, 2020
3
3
Delaware
The Testing Framework:

You have finally arrived at the most crucial step. Remember, no matter how genius you think your idea is, you are not the market. Entrepreneurship is like gambling. If you are like me, you don't like gambling when the odds are not your favor. So you want to do your best to change your odds from the odds of the player, to the odds of the house. That means having a long term mindset and leaving enough for next time. You may lose this time, but if you learn and keep trying then the odds are in your favor of winning over the long term. That is why I don't recommend blowing all your resources on your first idea. Of course it is possible that you can bet it all on 00 on the roulette table and win. But it is not likely.

So with that in mind, you have to give the idea your spiritual all but not have it ruin you. You can't keep trying when you used all your mana on the first try. This can mean different things to different people. The larger the investment you make, the faster and more accurately you finish this part. Only you can decide what is right for you. @fastlane_dad and I have always bootstrapped as much as we can through the beginning stages. We replaced investment capital demands with creativity. Hopefully I can show you how to do that as well.

This part of the process will rely heavily on you answering the 1st question from the Preliminary Research Example correctly and concisely. You want to try and figure out how you can solve the issue or provide the value to the customer with as little monetary investment as you can. Here are some ways to do this:
  • Making something at home
  • Repurposing an existing product
  • Finding private label alternatives
  • Negotiating small samples
  • A combination of all these things
This is probably the one step that is the most diverse and difficult to make concise steps for. Most people would be surprised by the type of things you could test. However each type of issue/product may require it's own type of test. Once you have practiced this exercise enough, it will become easier and easier to see the way.

One of the biggest roadblocks people have in their thinking is believing that their product needs to be perfect. That is far from the truth. During your testing phase, the first thing you put out can be rudimentary in most areas as long as it is effective in the specific value you are proposing to solve. Once you get a good market signal from testing, then you can scale up investment on par with the signal and you can pour your heart and soul into the final product. You will find that along the way during the testing phase, you may actually have to adapt your mission statement and end up somewhere completely different!

Another roadblock is thinking that their solution isn't worth the money your customer will give you. If you naturally think this, it may be hard to shake this feeling. But you should be able to solve any guilt associated with this concern easily. This is how we do it...We legitimately want all our customers happy. So we provide a very liberal return policy. If the customer is not satisfied, they get an instant refund and a thank you for giving us a shot. It's no skin off their back. We want everyone to walk away happy. As long as you are solving the customers issue, most people will be happy. Those that aren't, get their money back.

Keep in mind that once you start getting sales, these methods should be phased out and turned into something high quality. The point of this exercise isn't how to make the fastest money by producing the crappiest product. The point is to figure out if you should spend your valuable time and resources on making the best product to solve the problem. Making the best product you can usually means something high quality, well thought through, and just overall something you can be proud of. A better product will get more more happy customers, reorders, more referrals, less refunds, and a leg up on competitors when they finally come.

The Testing Example:

During our research in the previous parts, it became clear that a solution already exists that just isn't marketed this way. Mineral sunscreens do not have the offending chemicals and are widespread. This gives us a wide array of choices.

Side note: Remember when I said a roadblock is thinking your solution isn't worth the money? This is a place where many people would feel that way. They think just because you are selling the customer an existing product, that you are somehow pulling one over on the customer. That is a very incorrect way of looking at things. Knowledge isn't free. My mother wouldn't sit there researching what ingredients won't discolor her hair. She has better things to do with her time. She would just go on Amazon and type color safe sunscreen, or something of the sort. Currently, no one is giving her an option that she could immediately be comfortable buying without doing more digging. You will. There's nothing misleading or bad about that. That is a huge value add. Every time we buy something based on a brand, we do this too. We use the brand as a heuristic to mean "this is a well enough known brand that even though it may not be the absolute best, I think it will be good enough to solve my issue and I am willing to spend a little more for the brand name to ensure that without doing my own research". Most of us do this and are more than willing to pay for this shortcut!​

Different types of product have their own set of testing solutions. Here are a diverse set of examples for this type of product.

The quickest most unethical way
You can create a mock product with 3d renderings. You will either prevent the order from being placed (on your own website) or cancel orders that are placed. Not only may this not be ethical, but there are also other issues. If you are preventing an order being placed by doing something like giving an error during checkout, then you don't actually know if the customer would have went through with it. Carts are abandoned all the time. If you are cancelling orders, this could get you into hot water very fast in most the marketplaces and you may find your account at risk and you stuck at go before you even began. So we do not recommend this route if at all possible.

The quick hands on way
It looks like the fastest ways to have a product in hand to test for this example is by making sunscreen at home.
Side note: Think no one wants your homemade sunscreen? O ye, of little faith. Why don't you type in "sunscreen" into Etsy.com search and see how many sales are happening. Even when the customer knows that it is literally hand made in a random mom's kitchen, they are still more than happy to buy it.​
The tradeoff with this is that you have to do more research into regulations and you have to be willing to get your hands literally messy. This is a completely acceptable solution. We have done the equivalent of this and there is nothing unethical about this as long as you do this legitimately and follow any regulations. Don't let regulations scare you away. You can google "regulations to produce sunscreen" and there will be a ton of info on it, including directly from the FDA. A quick shortcut for regulations on labelling is just to copy existing products labels and change the design elements while keeping the same structure and wording.

The best part about this way is that with enough motivation you could literally have a product in your hands by the end of the day. More realistically you could have something within a week or so. Do the research on how to make one online, buy the ingredients, the bottles, get a local place to print labels and you are on your way! Use google at every step of the way.

  • "How do I make a mineral sunscreen"
  • "Where do I buy X ingredient"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump bottle"
  • "Where do I buy a X color pump"
  • "Where can I print a label"
You can either do the designs yourself or hire someone on some place like fiverr.com to do it.

Remember....you aren't optimizing for cutting cost or absolute highest quality here. You just want something "good enough to get the job done" and while still reasonably priced in low quantities.

We wouldn't currently do this as we have money to invest, but this is a decent choice.

The quick hands off way
This is the way we would likely do things right now. I would google for "private label mineral sunscreen" and start calling places. Here are two places that I chose for this example. Keep in mind that I chose them strictly as an example because of how easy it was to find the price. I have never used them and have no idea how good the product is:


Code:
https://www.wildwestskincare.com/collections/sunscreen-with-zinc-titanium-dioxide
https://proceuticalspl.com/


The first one doesn't look as visually appealing but I can get singles for $37 or 10 at $20 a piece. The second one looks more professional in my opinion and the minimum order number is $24 at a cost of $25.50 a unit. Many private label companies will give you label templates and even make sure you are following regulation on the label. This may ease some peoples anxiety with doing it yourself.

So for $37 + shipping you can have a real product in your hand and be in the market very quickly! Or you may choose to invest a couple hundred to get a more professional looking starting batch. Again, this depends on your circumstances and goals. Don't forget that you can usually negotiate with these companies. There are dozens that provide these services and with a well thought through phone call you may be able to get a very good product, at a very low quantity and at a good price.

The traditional route
I won't spend to much time on this since this is the most intuitive route. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention the traditional route. You find a contract manufacturer that makes your types of product. You start a relationship with them and discuss your requirements for the product. They will be glad to provide you stock formulas for the type of product you want to make and then you have to do more research on how you would want to customize it. For example, you would ask them to provide you with a sample of a stock mineral sunscreen. If you like their sample, you would ask them to add X, Y, Z ingredient to it to provide even more value to your customer. Or maybe there is an expensive ingredient that most don't use but you can because you will price your product accordingly. The guy you talk to can be a wealth of knowledge as this is what they do all day and they too want you to succeed. So don't be afraid to ask. Doing this could demand a $3,000 - $10,000 investment. Depending on alot of factors.

At this point in our career, there is a good chance that we would do things this way. A few thousand dollar investment isn't much for us and we could go straight to providing as much value as possible with a custom end product. If the test succeeds, we would still try to improve the product from this step based on feedback or more research we have done. But If we fail, we would have alot more personal investment where that came from so we could easily shrug it off. That's why I said your level of investment and commitment is a very personal thing.

Conclusions:

So these are the ways you can get up and running very quickly to test the market for your product. If you have touched on a strong market need, you will know immediately. But don't be discouraged if results are first lackluster. You should try different marketing and different angles of attack. Many successful products will start off with only selling very slowly. This is still a huge win! Many people will be turned away because of the inherent flaws in your test mule. But you only gambled small financial investment and now you are more confident in investing the required time and financial resources to make that AWESOME product that will drive a productocracy. This is where you become an expert in all things sunscreen and colored/blonde hair. You can spend days/weeks/etc properly researching people's experiences online/offline and even scientific papers written on these topics and ingredients. Then you go through the iterative steps of creating a good presentable products. But again, you are doing all this knowing that when you have the final product in hand you, people are going to be snatching it out of your hands! Too many aspiring entrepreneurs spend all day at the creation phase and either come up with a spectacular product that no one wants or give up because they lose motivation through the slow creation phase. There's nothing like sales coming in on your test mules to continue motivation you during this phase.

A strong immediate response is usually the best thing you could hope for, but don't write off slow responses or product you have to tweak. They can still become big hits or even if they don't, a milquetoast response product can still make you more than the US median salary. That's the power of being the producer.

We have ordered our "final" product as soon as within 1 week of starting the test phase or as late as months after. It all depended on the market response, whether we had to keep tweaking/testing and how much time we had to dedicate to this product at the time.

Epilogue:

Alright guys. Hopefully all this has helped you guys peek behind the curtain a little bit and got you going in the right direction. As I have been writing this series, I see there is probably a lot more that needs to be addressed. For example I do have alot of failed examples during the Idea phase that would show good lessons. There are also countless examples I could make of how to test different types of products. When you see enough of them, you can start picking up on the similarities and it becomes easier formulating your own successful tests. I think there are probably steps that I glossed over that deserve their own focus as well, like the marketing/ad copy/listings/etc. Let me know which areas still leave you scratching your head. So I may continue the series in the future. But for now, I'm exhausted of writing! :rofl:
This is fantastic, and a lot of what I do when copywriting. Question: if your first iteration was that "milquetoast" would you change the name of the second iteration so that you avoided any bad reviews? Thanks so much for your contributions!
 

NeoDialectic

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This is fantastic, and a lot of what I do when copywriting. Question: if your first iteration was that "milquetoast" would you change the name of the second iteration so that you avoided any bad reviews? Thanks so much for your contributions!
I am not 100% sure what you mean. If you got to the point of receiving a bunch of reviews (good or bad), you must have sold alot of items and that is likely a successful test.

Are asking whether you should change the name when going from test to final product , because the test one may have sold well but received a lot of bad feedback because of it's flaws? If so, then it may be a good idea to make a new listing with a new name for your improved product. It would depend on how much momentum your first listing had though.
 

DougRMR

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Apr 19, 2019
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I am not 100% sure what you mean. If you got to the point of receiving a bunch of reviews (good or bad), you must have sold alot of items and that is likely a successful test.

Are asking whether you should change the name when going from test to final product , because the test one may have sold well but received a lot of bad feedback because of it's flaws? If so, then it may be a good idea to make a new listing with a new name for your improved product. It would depend on how much momentum your first listing had though.
So you're implying that if the test had a lot of momentum, it's better to improve on the current product and win back your audience with the momentum you gained rather than starting again
 
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NeoDialectic

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@MJ DeMarco , I wanted to add a link to the Testing Phase to the original post so new lurkers could see them back to back. But it seems like I can't edit the post anymore to do that. Is there a cutoff to how long after the post was created that it can be edited? Here is what I wanted to add:

Here is my next post in the series: The Testing Phase

So you're implying that if the test had a lot of momentum, it's better to improve on the current product and win back your audience with the momentum you gained rather than starting again

Yes. A listing that is already selling has so many things going for it over a new listing. It's likely already ranked in applicable search terms. Even outside of that, we can't prove it, but we do think momentum itself on a listing becomes a self fulfilling prophecy where Amazon gives you more traffic more easily between rankings and ads. So let's say you are selling X per day and run out of stock. When you get back in stock, you may start selling alot worse till you build some momentum again. The newer the listing the more the effect. A 10 year old listing with massive sales history will be affected less and may even get it's own boost as your repeat customers juice up the sales as soon as it's back in stock.

On the other hand, it does depend on what you mean by bad. If your listing is 3 stars, then I would say you should start a new one with your new and improved version. If you are already selling good with 3 stars, that tells me your product is very much in demand (or there aren't any other options) and a new listing should gain traction fast too then. But if it's 4+ stars, then it will just get better as more people have your better product and leave glowing feedback.
 

MJ DeMarco

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@MJ DeMarco , I wanted to add a link to the Testing Phase to the original post so new lurkers could see them back to back. But it seems like I can't edit the post anymore to do that. Is there a cutoff to how long after the post was created that it can be edited? Here is what I wanted to add:

Done, thanks for letting me know.
 

TheMethodX

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the example of a digital product can concern ebooks, online courses and also services such as copywriting in a very specific field
 

NeoDialectic

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the example of a digital product can concern ebooks, online courses and also services such as copywriting in a very specific field
When it comes to these types of products, there is less testing that needs to be done. These types of products don't demand alot of financial investment. Remember, the point of the test is so you don't have to invest 10s of thousands of dollars on a flop that no one wants. The point isn't so you don't have to put in any work at all on your end. So sticking by the principle, I would just to put together something that gives the value without dwelling too much on perfecting it. Many people get hung up on things not being perfect and delaying release too long. Get it 80% to perfect and release it. Then perfect it with subsequent iterations and updates.

If it's some kind of product or field where you don't even know if people are interested at all, you can surely still devise a quick test. We have done it before and it has stopped us from further investment of time.

Setup the advertisements or marketing campaign you were planning on doing for it (facebook ads/google ads/instagram/SEO/etc...). Make a landing page/website that portrays your digital product but the buy button ultimately just asks for an email so they get notified when it is available. Then run it for a short while. If people aren't hitting your landing page at all, you know it's either a miss or your form of advertisement isn't right for the type of product. Finding this out before writing an ebook/course can save you ALOT of time! If people are hitting your landing page, then it passes the test. If people are giving you their email, that's an even better signal. This doesn't necessarily mean that it will be a success, since there is a difference between all those actions and actually taking out your wallet. But it should give you more confidence in whether your product has no shot or a good shot.

Let me know if you have other questions
 
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DougRMR

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Apr 19, 2019
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Hey man. I'm having trouble finding a specific manufacturer. So far, I know about three companies that are selling the supplements that help my niche. One of them sells them incredibly cheap. However, I can't seem to find a manufacturer for these supplements, save only for the active ingredient itself which needs to be kept at incredibly low temperatures (I'm pretty sure you can only do it in lab conditions, it's like 14 degrees F).

I'm at a loss here, though, there's probably something I'm missing because there has to be a way to access this type of manufacturing, seeing as there are a few companies that use that active ingredient. I've used importyeti and American Chemical Suppliers to maybe find some leads on who the suppliers might be but I can't get a foothold on that specific supplement. Much less than the average stuff like vitamins, melatonin, gummies, etc. Do you have any suggestions you could give when one seems to be at a dead end in this regard?

I'm gonna keep looking for about a week more but if I can't find a foothold, I might have to change to another thing. Hopefully not
 

NeoDialectic

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Hey man. I'm having trouble finding a specific manufacturer. So far, I know about three companies that are selling the supplements that help my niche. One of them sells them incredibly cheap. However, I can't seem to find a manufacturer for these supplements, save only for the active ingredient itself which needs to be kept at incredibly low temperatures (I'm pretty sure you can only do it in lab conditions, it's like 14 degrees F).

I'm at a loss here, though, there's probably something I'm missing because there has to be a way to access this type of manufacturing, seeing as there are a few companies that use that active ingredient. I've used importyeti and American Chemical Suppliers to maybe find some leads on who the suppliers might be but I can't get a foothold on that specific supplement. Much less than the average stuff like vitamins, melatonin, gummies, etc. Do you have any suggestions you could give when one seems to be at a dead end in this regard?

I'm gonna keep looking for about a week more but if I can't find a foothold, I might have to change to another thing. Hopefully not

Good Question. So, this is an example of a situation that I would personally usually move onto the next product as there is always so much opportunity out there. UNLESS I really believe in the product. If I did, then I would continue searching as this issue you are having is an ENORMOUS plus and barrier to entry for competitors if you can figure it out.

Exactly where I would look next depends on the type of ingredient itself. It's all a bit of a fishing expedition, but every clue brings you closer and closer.

For example, if it is an Ayurveda type ingredient, that would lead me to Indian manufacturers. But I would check out other countries as well. I would personally go to somewhere like Alibaba, pull up 20-30 supplement manufacturers from various countries (or specific ones if I know it comes from a specific country) that make things that are similar or in a similar category. Contact all of them and ask them if they make something like that. Here's the important step... When they say no, ask them if they know who does and if they can give you a recommendation of where to look next. 19 may say they don't know. But you would be surprised that there are a few that are willing to help and share their in depth field knowledge. If it leads no where, I would keep expanding my contact circle.

The thing is, as you said, you KNOW that it is being made somewhere. So unless you don't think the juice is worth the squeeze, your only choice is to keep going. So if that would lead no where I may start becoming more and more creative with my approaches. Contacting researchers in the field (papers usually have contact info) and asking them. Contacting the companies themselves acting as a customer and tailoring my questions in such a way to squeeze out any further info. I bet it is very possible to figure out what country they are getting this ingredient from. As a customer, this is very important knowledge for you after all!

We have bumped into a similar problem before and at the end what we found was that the reason the ingredient was so effective is it was an Ayurvedic offspring of an actual pharmaceutical. Which put it squarely in a gray area legally. The way to import it would be to deal with outfits directly in India as big USA manufacturing companies do not want to deal with that type of liability. When we were just starting out, we may have seized the opportunity and ran with it. But since we were already successful, we decided the possible liabilities weren't worth it for us. So keep in mind that this may be the reason you can't find it in the USA (or not....tough to know baed of the details you provided).

Hope that helps. Please don't forget to chime back in and let us know your progress!
 

DougRMR

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Good Question. So, this is an example of a situation that I would personally usually move onto the next product as there is always so much opportunity out there. UNLESS I really believe in the product. If I did, then I would continue searching as this issue you are having is an ENORMOUS plus and barrier to entry for competitors if you can figure it out.

Exactly where I would look next depends on the type of ingredient itself. It's all a bit of a fishing expedition, but every clue brings you closer and closer.

For example, if it is an Ayurveda type ingredient, that would lead me to Indian manufacturers. But I would check out other countries as well. I would personally go to somewhere like Alibaba, pull up 20-30 supplement manufacturers from various countries (or specific ones if I know it comes from a specific country) that make things that are similar or in a similar category. Contact all of them and ask them if they make something like that. Here's the important step... When they say no, ask them if they know who does and if they can give you a recommendation of where to look next. 19 may say they don't know. But you would be surprised that there are a few that are willing to help and share their in depth field knowledge. If it leads no where, I would keep expanding my contact circle.

The thing is, as you said, you KNOW that it is being made somewhere. So unless you don't think the juice is worth the squeeze, your only choice is to keep going. So if that would lead no where I may start becoming more and more creative with my approaches. Contacting researchers in the field (papers usually have contact info) and asking them. Contacting the companies themselves acting as a customer and tailoring my questions in such a way to squeeze out any further info. I bet it is very possible to figure out what country they are getting this ingredient from. As a customer, this is very important knowledge for you after all!

We have bumped into a similar problem before and at the end what we found was that the reason the ingredient was so effective is it was an Ayurvedic offspring of an actual pharmaceutical. Which put it squarely in a gray area legally. The way to import it would be to deal with outfits directly in India as big USA manufacturing companies do not want to deal with that type of liability. When we were just starting out, we may have seized the opportunity and ran with it. But since we were already successful, we decided the possible liabilities weren't worth it for us. So keep in mind that this may be the reason you can't find it in the USA (or not....tough to know baed of the details you provided).

Hope that helps. Please don't forget to chime back in and let us know your progress!
Hey man. I'm doing research in my spare time and although I haven't found any manufacturers for the supplement I have been actively sending inquiries asking about it. Haven't received any replies but doing it now during work hours lol

That being said, will keep you posted if I find anything worthwhile or if I get something new. I'll try your approach for one more week but if I start getting dead ends I might have to look elsewhere.
 
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DougRMR

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Update: got a "good" response from 3 manufacturers. One claims to have the supplements, the other says "they're pretty sure they can do it" and the last one says they don't sell it but that he can check with others to see. Most of them are from China, btw, if that makes any difference.

The last one sounded genuine but the other two felt a bit sketchy. I dunno if there's something I can do to verify their claims but will keep checking. Thank you for the Alibaba suggestion, I wouldn't have thought of that.
 

DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
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87
Hope that helps. Please don't forget to chime back in and let us know your progress!
Next update. I'd have to fork in $2000 minimum to get some samples (which is crazy good in the grand scheme of things). I don't have the money to spare now but I'm having trouble gaging whether the starting investment is worth it, considering I don't even know the niche's response to this. I know you said you should invest as little as is possible to not waste too much gaging what the market wants but this might be a good barrier to entry, if we're looking at this the right way. I just don't want to make the investment and find out that it'll be a dud.

I see a few alternatives: either 1. make a fake mockup of a website where I "sell" the supplements and just say that they're sold out and see how people respond to it then (however, I'm not sure whether this will tell me how Amazon's audience will respond) or 2. Open an amazon seller account and have the product up but sold out and see if I can gage that way (don't even know if this is possible, probably not)

I'd love to hear your response. Either way, these past weeks have taught me more on finding a need than I ever had.
 

ArmanK

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After posting my general advice post here , I realized that one of the most burning questions that people struggle with is "how do I come up with an idea that isn't already done?" and "how do I test whether I can successfully sell this product without a huge investment?".

This is the first time I am writing down this process on paper, but this process in general is one of the ways my business partner and I have successfully launched multiple big products that have been in the hands of hundreds of thousands of happy customers.

Hopefully this thread will show you how to do that with a real step by step example of how to do this. I will also try to include my reasoning for decisions along the way. So this will be a long thread with multiple parts. Even though I have already went through the example all the way through posting; Writing detailed accounts take a long time. So today I am tackling the idea generation part. Depending on the response over the next week or so, I will add a post detailing how to bootstrap your way through successfully testing the product. I can also add a post detailing a few unsuccessful iterations, to showcase what failed attempts look like.

Disclaimers:
  • This is FAR from the only way to do this. By providing the following steps, I am not saying that this is the best way to start a business. But these are difficult questions to answer in an actionable and generalizable fashion, so I have chosen a niche and path that I could do just that. I believe others methods have been posted before on these forums. For example like searching for everyday items on Amazon and seeing what all the 1 star reviews have in common and solve that issue.
  • The best way to think of an idea is to be familiar with a product or field and try to solve an issue that you or someone you know runs into. In this exercise I am attempting to answer not just how to test a product, but also how to come up with an idea when your mind is running completely blank. The point is to show that the only thing holding you back is your willingness to put in work/time and not your experience/age/finances/etc. If you have an advantage in either of those (know a problem to solve or you have sufficient finances to fund faster experimentation) then I would recommend using that.
  • You are taking a peek at my exact process that I would take to think of and test a product under these circumstances. That means I have not actually made and tested this product but I actually do believe this would be a good product to test. My bar here would be to test X amount of products and only 1 has to catch on to be a success.
  • My example will be testing on Amazon as it is the most lucrative marketplace and simultaneously probably the hardest to do so as your are playing by their stringent rules. However you can apply the same methods for any other marketplace and/or search engine and you would just be dealing with less traffic but likely have more control.
  • If you want to copy any part of this, you can. But please know that I only went surface level for the purpose of this exercise. I don't endorse any of the companies mentioned (I haven't necessarily worked with them) and I haven't done all the legal research and due diligence.
Prelude:

What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

The Idea Framework:

When starting to brainstorm ideas from scratch, I am thinking about the question "what scenario or group of people can I provide value to in a specific way that others haven't?" Thinking about the question this way helps me find a niche. Here is an outline of the steps that you can follow.

  1. Think of attributes that separate people into groups with possible unique needs or requirements. Example: Height, age, sex,race,hair color, eye color, skin color, disability or special needs, left/right handedness, location, etc...
  2. Think of questions that could expose unique needs that these people would have just as a byproduct of being in this group. You are proding for problems to solve. If you had personal experience and unsolved problems, you wouldn't need to do this step. But you have none, so here we are. Examples:
    • What ingredients are X sensitive to?
    • What ingredients should X avoid?
    • What do people with X have to be careful of?
  3. Literally google the questions and read a good amount of results. Each problem that you encounter, add it to a Problems List and then see if there is a solution that is specifically marketed for this problem on Amazon. If the group itself is super niche, this may actually be enough! However this is usually not enough as most issues in the big groups have been addressed in the marketplace. You can also type that same question with the word "forum" afterward to see what people on forums have been complaining about as well. This can sometimes be gold for finding budding problems that the market hasn't caught up with yet. These base problems could also be harder to test sometimes because you may need to come up with a completely new invention or product versus repurposing other products that provide a solution.
  4. If you have found that all the very general problems have been taken care of, you should move onto the next step of the niche discovery process. Put yourself in the shoes of this group and think of ways your Problems List can be affected by everyday tasks or common products. Lets call this the Interaction List. This list obviously has unlimited iterations. Just make sure it is something that would have a large enough audience.
  5. Use google to see if the things on your Interaction list are actually issues or not. Example language: Does (some product or action) cause (some issue) for (group of people) . This is a good time to also see recommended solutions to these interactions. This will help you gauge whether this is something you can solve without reinventing the wheel.
  6. Search Amazon to see if there is a solution for this specifically.
  7. Go through steps 1-6 over and over again until you find a problem that has not been solved and that follow a majority of MJ's CENTS model. Ideally it would be something that you can creatively test without too big of investment. This isn't a requirement, but with unlimited problems to solve, why not make it easy on yourself?
OK. So those are the basic steps I recommend you follow for this method. If you are confused about any of the steps see the next part.

The Idea Example:

Here is the process I went through for this thread. I went through many FAILED iterations before coming up with this final product. However for brevity's sake, I will post a few examples in a follow-up post and not here. The steps line up to the previous chapters steps.

  1. People with blonde hair.
  2. Here are the two questions that made sense within the context of the group
    • "What do people with blonde hair have to be careful of?"
    • "What ingredients should blondes avoid?"
  3. Here is a short list of things that made my sample Problems List. If you google my questions from #2, you will see that this list is easily made just from the first page of results.
    • Hydration
    • Heat
    • Sun
    • Fading
    • Staining
    • Using things with dye's
    • Chlorine
    • Harsh Chemicals
    • Using color-safe hair care products
  4. All these issues are either things that the people in the group can just avoid, or there are solutions to the problem. So now I need to make an Interactions List. A good way to whittle down the list from unlimited is by excluding things that are directly related or unique to the specific problem. For example, it should be obvious that products designed specifically for blonde or colored hair are already solving the issue. There is no need in wasting time to see if you can make a shampoo that avoids those things (unless you have reason to believe otherwise). So I will think of things that may touch or expose blonde peoples hair to things on the Problems Listas a byproduct of normal daily activity and not specific to blonde people activity. A small list of immediate thoughts:
    • Hats
    • Scrunchies
    • Sunscreen
    • Lotions
    • Shower water
    • Going swimming
  5. I start googling and cross referencing with Amazon. With many of these it becomes immediately apparent that these issues have been solved (and I would have known that if I had colored hair). However I land on jackpot with "Does sunscreen discolor blonde hair". The answer is YES. Normal sunscreen discolors colored hair. Yes there are ways to continue to use sunscreen without discoloring hair. For example, further google searches shows that common ingredients like Avebenzone and Octocrylene are what cause the discoloration and mineral sunscreens do not.
  6. I search Amazon for "sunscreen for people with blonde hair", "sunscreen for people with colored hair", "sunscreen for blonde hair", and many other iterations. What I find is that there are sunscreen that you can specifically apply to colored hair to protect it, but there is no SKIN sunscreen that is advertised as being color safe. So when someone applies their generic face sunscreen, it can fade their bangs, eyebrows, mustache, etc...
  7. Bingo. This is an issue that affects a large group of people, so its scaling potential is huge. Even better, it has no direct competitors. This may seem like a home run, but I wouldn't get ahead of myself. Just because this is a common and unique problem that can be solved, doesn't mean people will actually search for or care for you to solve it.
That's it folks. Thats the idea part of the process. Next is the testing phase. Research Phase and then finally comes the Testing Phase.

:bulb:Follow up posts to this series:
---- The Preliminary Testing Phase
---- The Testing Phase
@NeoDialectic wow. thank you. truly amazing post. i can only imagine how long this took to write out so clearly.

you have made a lightbulb go off in my head

curious to hear your thoughts on this idea that comes to mind -

a more effective treatment for cold sores?

i have been getting them since i was 7 years old (20+ years). and speaking from personal experience ive tried just about everything from prescription pills, to creams, to natural remedies and nothing seems to get rid of them in less than 7-14 days.

i know this is a super common problem faced by millions every year.

what are your initial thoughts? worth me digging in to deeper?
 
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DougRMR

Contributor
Apr 19, 2019
105
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@NeoDialectic wow. thank you. truly amazing post. i can only imagine how long this took to write out so clearly.

you have made a lightbulb go off in my head

curious to hear your thoughts on this idea that comes to mind -

a more effective treatment for cold sores?

i have been getting them since i was 7 years old (20+ years). and speaking from personal experience ive tried just about everything from prescription pills, to creams, to natural remedies and nothing seems to get rid of them in less than 7-14 days.

i know this is a super common problem faced by millions every year.

what are your initial thoughts? worth me digging in to deeper?
Do people complain about the same thing you do? Meaning, is it common for other people with cold sores to complain about not being able to get rid of them with all the remedies available?
 

ArmanK

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Do people complain about the same thing you do? Meaning, is it common for other people with cold sores to complain about not being able to get rid of them with all the remedies available?
Yes. It looks like 10-14 days is the common time it takes to heal for people. And again speaking from personal experience I know that is 10-14 days too long!
 

xShepherdx

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What do I need?
  • An Amazon seller account
  • Willingness to spend $50-$200 on product and another couple hundred on advertising. There may be cheaper ways to do this with close to zero investment and I will annotate those options, but they all come with drawbacks

First off, thank you so much for sharing! This thread is a goldmine and even has my girlfriend excited by the possibilities. We've spent all morning brainstorming ideas using the process you've laid out and have come up with some great ideas to chase down further.

With that said, the paranoid part of me wonders how you manage/avoid potential liabilities.

For example, when looking at heating pads, there are people reporting that they were burned by the product. This was seen in popular products and niche pads (even 5-star reviews, variable heat settings, etc.), so I'm thinking that it's fairly unavoidable and comes with the territory.

With a product like this, would you carry some sort of insurance? Or is a disclaimer good enough? Or is this even a problem and am I just overthinking? :rofl:

Up to this point, I only have experience with digital products, so any advice in this area would be greatly appreciated!
 
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NeoDialectic

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Next update. I'd have to fork in $2000 minimum to get some samples (which is crazy good in the grand scheme of things). I don't have the money to spare now but I'm having trouble gaging whether the starting investment is worth it, considering I don't even know the niche's response to this. I know you said you should invest as little as is possible to not waste too much gaging what the market wants but this might be a good barrier to entry, if we're looking at this the right way. I just don't want to make the investment and find out that it'll be a dud.

I see a few alternatives: either 1. make a fake mockup of a website where I "sell" the supplements and just say that they're sold out and see how people respond to it then (however, I'm not sure whether this will tell me how Amazon's audience will respond) or 2. Open an amazon seller account and have the product up but sold out and see if I can gage that way (don't even know if this is possible, probably not)

I'd love to hear your response. Either way, these past weeks have taught me more on finding a need than I ever had.
Hey, just replied to your PM about your specific product.

Echoing here some of what I said. I do think you should spend some time testing the product, even if ultimately it doesn't necessary translate to Amazon. You may learn some things along the way, the same way you just did about finding a source.

It will also give you time to open your Amazon account and start handling everything they want to open your account. Start that ASAP.
 

NeoDialectic

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@NeoDialectic wow. thank you. truly amazing post. i can only imagine how long this took to write out so clearly.

you have made a lightbulb go off in my head

curious to hear your thoughts on this idea that comes to mind -

a more effective treatment for cold sores?

i have been getting them since i was 7 years old (20+ years). and speaking from personal experience ive tried just about everything from prescription pills, to creams, to natural remedies and nothing seems to get rid of them in less than 7-14 days.

i know this is a super common problem faced by millions every year.

what are your initial thoughts? worth me digging in to deeper?
I think "a more effective treatment for cold sores" obviously sounds like a lucrative good idea. What your post seems to be missing is "and I've been using X ingredient/product on mine and it helps clear it up in days! Looking online, no one seems to selling this ingredient to help with cold sores".

Don't take this the wrong way, but otherwise, your post sounds like "Do you think curing cancer is a good idea? Is it worth me digging deeper?".
 

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