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Properly Executing a Soft Proof

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Connor_Motivasis

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I have an app/course idea that targets a specific niche within the fitness industry. The idea feels solid and solves a problem that I see people complaining about all the time, but of course, I don't want to put weeks of work into the production of a concept that I haven't even gotten basic feedback on.

Bottom line, my question is how do you properly execute a soft proof? How detailed should you be in your description of the product? How far into the creation process should you be before soft proof? Is it worth creating a landing page to see if people are willing to submit an email or should that be done later down the line?

The basics of this were covered in Unscripted, but I wanted to see other's perspectives.

Thank you in advance to anyone who replies.
 

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astr0

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I'm not an expert, but here's what I would do
  1. Check if there's some competition and how're they doing. Weak competition may be a bad sign, other results are fine.
  2. Prepare interview questions focused on the problem, not mentioning the solution. And some mockups on paper with your proposed solution. Go talk to your audience in gyms or healthy food stores or wherever else they hang out. Start with the interview to confirm that they have this problem and how big it is. If they do have it, show them the mockups, explain everything and ask their opinion. You may get a clue to pivot on this stage already. Also, ask them how much they are willing to pay. That won't be your price, but more of a pain level of their problem.
  3. If everything is still fine on step 2, build a tricky landing page and run some paid traffic to it. Get any signs that people would actually buy that. I would even put a fake "Buy" button with the price telling that the product is not ready on the last step and asking for an email to know when it's ready or just pre-sell it. Don't know what's legal in the US.
  4. Build it and listen for feedbacks. Build a community for that.
  5. Apply what you've learned from feedback and iterate.
Was doing that with an idea of software for the restaurant business years ago. Got pretty positive feedback and a bigger related problem they would like to solve. Had a partner on this cause I'm not a frontend web developer and he said the idea sucked after two weeks of brainstorming and prototyping, even convinced me about that too. Now there's competition making huge money on it, lol. My partner has read "Lean Startup" by Eric Ries since then and probably understands he was wrong now. Building a company with him now...
 
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Connor_Motivasis

Connor_Motivasis

Contributor
Apr 15, 2019
46
66
99
22
Tucson, AZ
I'm not an expert, but here's what I would do
  1. Check if there's some competition and how're they doing. Weak competition may be a bad sign, other results are fine.
  2. Prepare interview questions focused on the problem, not mentioning the solution. And some mockups on paper with your proposed solution. Go talk to your audience in gyms or healthy food stores or wherever else they hang out. Start with the interview to confirm that they have this problem and how big it is. If they do have it, show them the mockups, explain everything and ask their opinion. You may get a clue to pivot on this stage already. Also, ask them how much they are willing to pay. That won't be your price, but more of a pain level of their problem.
  3. If everything is still fine on step 2, build a tricky landing page and run some paid traffic to it. Get any signs that people would actually buy that. I would even put a fake "Buy" button with the price telling that the product is not ready on the last step and asking for an email to know when it's ready or just pre-sell it. Don't know what's legal in the US.
  4. Build it and listen for feedbacks. Build a community for that.
  5. Apply what you've learned from feedback and iterate.
Was doing that with an idea of software for the restaurant business years ago. Got pretty positive feedback and a bigger related problem they would like to solve. Had a partner on this cause I'm not a frontend web developer and he said the idea sucked after two weeks of brainstorming and prototyping, even convinced me about that too. Now there's competition making huge money on it, lol. My partner has read "Lean Startup" by Eric Ries since then and probably understands he was wrong now. Building a company with him now...
The competition for the grander "Motivation App" is pretty heavy and they do REALLY well, but the solutions currently available are very poorly executed and have a lot of complaints from users. Complains I believe I can remedy. Although the niche I'm targeting is the "Skinny Fat" population to start. It's a fairly high pain level it seems and a lot of people feel hopeless. No application niches down that far, but I don't want to fall for the empty room fallacy until I get feedback from those struggling with the issue.

Do you think it's better to ask people in person? Your reply seems to infer that. I'm very much an online dweller, but I am fully willing to exit my comfort zone if that will provide me with better information. How would you approach doing so in person? I don't want to go up to people that look "Skinny Fat" and just ask if they need help, that sounds rude. Any recommendations in that regard?

I'm holding off on the landing page only because I tend to spend too much time doing Front End Development (because that's my current job and I like doing it) and I do it before I even check if the idea is remotely valid. Also, I'm a broke boy, so ads will be slow going.

Thank you for the reply, it's very thorough :)
 

astr0

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Well, your idea definitely has a much broader audience. Probably you can validate it online.

Running into skinny-fat people on the street does sound rude, however, I don't think it's too rude to ask people who are working to solve their problem already. Like looking for them in the gym.

You don't need to spend a lot of money on ads to validate this, getting a few hundreds of visitors and monitoring the CTR and "Conversions" should be enough. Going to the forums and facebook groups where they hang out can be a free option too.

Mine idea was niched to only restaurant business owners, couldn't find if they have a community online so talking in person was the only option. Got valuable feedback that TripAdvisor was solving bigger issues for them which is bringing more tourists to the restaurants. Mine idea was a mobile app with a menu & ordering, call waiter button and ability to pay/ask for the check. Booking a table with pre-order and restaurant suggestions could be added in the future. Just hated to wait for the waitress sometimes, especially when waiting for the menu or check. Should be able to make clients happier thus returning and bringing friends, reduce the load on the waiters allowing to reduce their count with time and increase an average check.

Found two post-morten failure stories on that + partner thought it was bad despite more than half of the owners liked it and was willing to pay. Now there are successful startups doing that.
 

itfactor

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Fitness is a pretty crowded space to be in.

Make sure you drive in hard on the USP (unique selling point), and focus on your reach
 
Last edited:
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Connor_Motivasis

Connor_Motivasis

Contributor
Apr 15, 2019
46
66
99
22
Tucson, AZ
Well, your idea definitely has a much broader audience. Probably you can validate it online.

Running into skinny-fat people on the street does sound rude, however, I don't think it's too rude to ask people who are working to solve their problem already. Like looking for them in the gym.

You don't need to spend a lot of money on ads to validate this, getting a few hundreds of visitors and monitoring the CTR and "Conversions" should be enough. Going to the forums and facebook groups where they hang out can be a free option too.

Mine idea was niched to only restaurant business owners, couldn't find if they have a community online so talking in person was the only option. Got valuable feedback that TripAdvisor was solving bigger issues for them which is bringing more tourists to the restaurants. Mine idea was a mobile app with a menu & ordering, call waiter button and ability to pay/ask for the check. Booking a table with pre-order and restaurant suggestions could be added in the future. Just hated to wait for the waitress sometimes, especially when waiting for the menu or check. Should be able to make clients happier thus returning and bringing friends, reduce the load on the waiters allowing to reduce their count with time and increase an average check.

Found two post-morten failure stories on that + partner thought it was bad despite more than half of the owners liked it and was willing to pay. Now there are successful startups doing that.
Sorry to hear you missed that opportunity, but pretty awesome that you were able to see the potential and it sounds like you and your friend learned from it.

I'll give the in-person method a try, sounds like a good way to get very honest answers.
 

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