Due to the fast pace of the start-up world and the risks inevitably associated with ventures, it is absolutely necessary to validate emerging ideas, products, and avoidable innovations in advance in order not to fall victim to the deceptive entrepreneurial euphoria that often withholds the facts from young founders and, if necessary, prevents them from success. Of course, it makes sense to put a certain amount of emotion into every venture of life and not just to rationally deal with circumstances, however, especially with financial or time-intensive decisions and projects, it should be weighed up beforehand to what extent the venture can work. The term Product-Market-Fit describes the degree to which a product satisfies a strong demand in a market and is thus acquired by the end customer. To achieve Product-Market-Fit there are a number of strategies and techniques that can be applied to validate a product. In this article we will explain some effective mechanisms that can be used to effectively validate products and ideas at a low investment level.
Ideas are not rigid but are accompanied by a constantly changing process that shapes the idea and constantly responds to the market situation, customer feedback and other external circumstances. To be able to iterate, however, a starting point is required, which ideally starts with clearly defined assumptions:
1. define assumptions
Since you usually do not know your target group perfectly yet, but you can make a sketch of them, you should start with assumptions. A persona in which you break down the characteristics of an example customer and get a more precise picture is helpful for this (you can download an example persona here: https://go.aws/2HfRQzv
). You should ask yourself what the concrete needs of your target group are and how you should address them in order to present your solution attractively. An assumption could look like this:
- Foodbloggers have a low reach and interact with few like-minded people. So it would make sense to create a platform for foodbloggers to network with each other.
This assumption is not yet validated, but it helps us to approach our target group in a targeted way.
2. talk to your target group
Once an assumption and especially a persona has been defined, it is possible to speak effectively to the target group and to hear their opinion on the problem defined in the assumption. However, the interview should be kept rather open, so that the interviewee does not already have the words in his mouth and tries to push in one direction. It makes sense to start the interview with a basic description of the activity (from the interviewee's side!) and thus already find possible problems. If no problems arise, it is possible to steer the conversation in a thematic direction. An interview guide should of course be prepared in advance. Each interview should be documented in detail so that important information is not lost later. If the previously defined assumptions have not been confirmed in any way, it is already now sensible to possibly reassess or at least change the assumptions.
3. formulate a problem solution for your customer
The addition "for your customer" is crucial here, as very many founders do not get out of their position and thus dazzle themselves with false assumptions. For this reason, we created a persona beforehand and already conducted the first interviews. As soon as the avoidable problem solution is defined, a smaller landing page, a Google survey or simply a mailchimp newsletter can be set up.
4. distribute your survey/registration page/newsletter
This is the first time a paid approach comes into play where the validation page is distributed to the target group via online marketing. We will not explain here how online marketing works exactly, but it is important to choose the right network or advertising outlet for your target group and to optimize your campaigns well. Once you have reached a critical mass of registrations, you can assume that the idea is at least of interest to a certain target group. However, it is important to get in touch with the target group again and study their needs and behaviour. This is the only way to build up a product close to the customer and product market fit is one step closer.
Conclusion: In general, product validation is much more complex than explained in this article. However, the techniques mentioned are a very good starting point to take the first steps in the right direction and to already work on the customer. If you had to summarize product validations in one sentence you could say "ask your customer", because he knows best what problems he has, he just won't be able to communicate them directly.