“Look Before You Leap” Test Marketing

Taking the Leap

There’s something to be said for coming up with a great idea and just jumping in to it. In fact, there’s a lot to be said about it and I can sum it up in 3 words … just do it. Entrepreneurs are about taking risks. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But there is no reward without the risk.

At the same time, you have to be ready and willing to just cut a bad idea loose no matter how much time and money you’ve pumped into it. The key is to get back on the horse immediately and move on to your next idea without missing a beat.

Risk Flipping

The biggest risk in any entrepreneurial venture is that you don’t know whether you can sell it until after you build it, roll it out, and start marketing it. Then it either flies or flops.

But if you could be certain of at least some measure of success, would you be more willing to take more of a risk? Would you invest more in the idea? Well sure, why not.

And that’s where test marketing comes in. And the beauty of the internet is that you can test-market anything relatively cheaply. And more importantly, you can test-market an idea BEFORE you invest anything else in it. And if you do it right, it can cost you almost nothing.

Free (or almost free) CPC Test Marketing

The idea is really simple. Create a simple landing page based around an idea you have. Throw some Google ads up on the page … make sure they’re prominent, high on the page, and blend in well. These will help you get your advertising dollars back and minimize the cost of your testing.

Now start advertising and promoting your page using AdWords or whatever. This is basic arbitrage and you probably won’t make much if any money on it. But I’ve found it’s a great way to test-market an idea for … well, pretty much free.

This kind of test-marketing lets you see how well people respond to your idea by:

  • The amount of traffic you can get with your advertising. This comes from a combination of the keywords you choose to target your advertising, how compelling your ads are, and how big a market there is for your idea.
  • The type of ads that are shown on your page that people are compelled to click on. Because Google AdSense is contextual and shows ads related to your page text, this is a very powerful measure of how well you can match your landing page text (related to your idea) to writing compelling ads that draw in people who are interested in your idea.

Put 10 or 20 of your ideas to the test. When you find one that gets a great response across the board, that’s the one you start developing. That’s the one you want to take a risk on.

You might find that your big kick-butt idea won’t fly but your so-so idea is actually a huge winner. Only test marketing can tell you for sure.

Now jump.

3 thoughts on ““Look Before You Leap” Test Marketing”

  1. Prior to building, launching and marketing our product we did some old fashioned work which we found both effective and encouraging. We made a few thousand phone calls into our test market to judge the need for a solution like the one we had in mind. Combined with a few dozen face to face visits, we developed a strong base to jump from and actually gathered information that helped us focus the concept prior to launch.

    While I like your idea for a low cost method of testing the web response to a potential product, I also think there is still some value in the old fashioned research. There is some cost involved, but in the long run it can save you a fortune.

  2. Hey Nic,

    Talking to people directly is a great way to get some feedback for a product. You get to see what people like and what they don’t. You get to see the improvements “they’d” make. That kind of test marketing is critical for a bricks & mortar product where one little tweak to it based on consumer feedback could mean the difference between success and failure.

    The method I’m talking about directly relates to products and niches online. It’s especially powerful in that arena because you can test a lot of ideas very inexpensively and get a feel for what will work on the web.

    It could be used for more traditional consumer products as well, but I don’t think the feedback would be as valuable. At least not without some cost because then your goal is to get survey info rather than ad clicks so you can’t recoup your expenses easily without some kind of sponsorship.

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