Maybe it happens after hours of market research, or after meticulously travelling through the various open data sources. Perhaps, it just hits you out of the blue when you (or someone you know) have a problem that needs a solution. No matter how it happens, in a moment an idea for a new product comes to life.
Fantastic. But will it work?
Of course, with a good development team, any software will “work”, but will it be a successful addition to your business?
“Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters.” – Casey Neistat
Ensuring the success of a new concept, in some ways, can be more difficult than even creating the product. In this post we’ll explore the crucial step in between idea and execution, validation.
If you’re ready to dive into an actionable guide to give your next product the stamp of approval, then this is the right place.
Step One: Figure Out the Struggle (Pain Points)
When you have an idea, it’s really a solution. People buy solutions based on a problem they are experiencing (needs, wants, desires). Figuring out what your app/product/widget does won’t help you sell it. You have to find the pain points that your idea hopes to solve.
To do this, you’ll have to start with your target market. It can be as simple as a particular industry, or complex enough to include geographic and firmographic data, but make sure you have a firm idea of your potential customers.
Next up, you’ll have to ask your audience exactly what you need to know. It may sound simple in this post, but it takes effort. Email them, have surveys (If you are serving the market already), but most importantly talk with them one on one (by phone, Skype, or even in person).
Here are some example questions:
- Do you have a problem with XYZ? (Obviously input the problem you think your product will solve.)
- How much does this problem cost you? (Time, money, headache)
- What other problems are costlier/more painful? (Important in step 2)
- How would having this problem solved improve your work/business/life? (Keep tabs on these for your sales copy).
There are dozens of good questions that will yield incredible insight into the life and pains your customers actively want to solve. Make a few dozen calls/emails while asking the same questions (to recognize patterns). Really dig deep and develop a relationship where possible. Keep it organized and find those valuable similarities. Now that you have enough raw data, you want to tweak your solution and build it, right?
First, you want to boil down and clarify the problem. Being able to articulate the needs and issues your market faces will automatically make them think you have the solution. Carving that out in the early stages will help you build a better tool for that problem and even help you sell more efficiently.
If your idea fits the bill after this process, then you’re in great shape. If not, don’t go back to the drawing board just yet.
Have a quick look at step two.
Step Two: Keep Your Idea Flexible
If you complete the first step in this process, you may be disappointed that the idea in your head isn’t the “perfect” fit for that particular audience. You shouldn’t be discouraged, but genuinely excited.
Finding out the potential problems of your industry may not have proven your idea to be a rock-solid winner, but it did give you enough data to tweak it. If the concept in your head isn’t up for interpretation (or downright changing), then you’ll be hard pressed on your search for success.
Again, the most effective products solve a problem with “push button” simplicity. By understanding the problem (which you should have already) the product will be solving, you can make it that much more appealing (increasing the odds of success).
If your solution can be changed to solve that deeply painful issue, then by all means change your idea as drastically as necessary.
It’s called pivoting and it can literally take your idea from the trash can to the hands of your customers.
Here are a couple of great guides from around the web for recognizing the need and then executing a pivot:
How to Validate Your Digital Product from Koombea
12 Step Guide to Pivoting from Huffington Post
6 Situations That May Require a Pivot from Strategyzer
Step Three: Research the Competition
Competition is a good thing. It’s really a quick and easy way to validate your idea. If there are others doing it (successfully), chances are you can too. In rare cases, you could be in a new market (or even create one yourself, like Slack). However, this is unlikely and you should research your competition heavily for a few different insights.
- Advertising: Figuring out how well the competing solutions are marketing their product is a great way to further develop your idea. Compare their marketing with the notes from step one and find where they are both lacking and excelling. Use a tool like Spyfu to help find what they are targeting.
- Their Product: Look at how well they deliver the solution and onboard their customers. Also, see how well the product is put together (the CX, speed, etc.) These will be vital in setting your venture apart from the other guys and creating more satisfied customers.
- Customer Opinion: That’s right, get back on the horn and talk with your competition’s existing customers. Find out how much they’re paying, the benefits and problems they have, and how well it solves that pain point.
Researching competition is a heavy burden and if you’re intimidated about how to do it, we’ve got a couple more resource for you.
By this point, it should be fairly obvious that your idea is worthwhile. The next step is the most important and really the only way to fully 100% know that your idea will churn butter.
Step Four: Execute It and Launch (Quickly)
Well, you’ve (hopefully) done everything you can up until this point. Now it’s time to do the most important part of “idea creation” – execution. Unfortunately, this is also the stage that almost every concept dies. Those who execute win, and those who do it quickly are better off.
Having too many other projects, lacking the ability to program, cold feet, and a host of other excuses have sent many great ideas into the abyss of regret. Don’t let that happen to you. You have everything you need:
- A target market with a real problem (that can be solved)
- A list of prospective customers (the ones you quizzed about their pains)
- Competition research (and how to be a better solution)
- Preliminary market validation (the end result of the process)
- A World-Class Development Company (maybe)
Koombea builds excellent SaaS solutions, apps, and other programs that dazzle audiences while solving their deepest problems. If you need a developer to take your idea and turn it into reality, we can help. Contact us today and see if we’re a good fit for one another.