If you’ve just found us here at The Life Design Project we’re in the midst of determining the profitability of an idea or service that we’ve derived from a niche interest, before we actually create anything.
Testing if an idea or product (or even an affiliate’s) is likely to sell isn’t as cut and dry as I or I’m sure you would like it to be. In the end, after the several rounds of sales page adjustments, copy-write education, Adwords testing and requested reviews, I’m left only slightly more informed on deciding whether or not to create my product. Geez, that sucks.
Wait, there’s hope! I turned to experienced and outspoken experts and asked them point blank, “What are the three best ways to test feasibility”. (I wanted to find out if I had just wasted time building a mock sales page and learning everything that goes into it.) The answers I received we’re nothing short of gold. Check out the progression of a sales page, real Adwords results, and what the experts had to say below. Note: I qualify these “experts” by knowing and seeing their products and ideas propel their freedom and income. There are hundred of thousands of others claiming to have created income on the web, I actually know these people have.
We’re finally there, decision time, make your idea a real tangible product, or cut your losses and start over. I decide below.
Sales Page / Mock Up Progression
Rough layout and made up sales pitch to professionally reviewed and carefully preened sales page. The evolution is below in picture form.
The real things that impacted change during this mock was reading a free ebook on sales copy, asking popular bloggers with ebooks to review my sales page, (Never underestimate how easy it is to actually connect with people you think you can’t.) and taking the time to build a real e-mail capture campaign. I still have a list of things to update, but it went through enough for Adwords testing.
At first I thought these were the only results I needed to get to a yes or no about creating my product. I was wrong. Adwords are a costly, powerful, guess and test platform that could leave you more confused about what to do than if you didn’t use them at all. Luckily my results actually pushed me to ask more experienced people what they thought both about my product and how they do testing. My numbers are sort of ambivalent, there’s potential for some income, but no way to really tell if its worth spending a month or three creating the product. All in all, I only spent $50 on Adwords, and that could have been my issue, who knows…guess and test right?
What the Experts Said
I asked several popular and successful online entrepreneurs a simple question when I found my Adwords results rather lame, I was floored by the immediacy of their response, for which I’m thankful, but more so by the quality information! Here’s what I asked.
Question: What would you say are the three best ways to test the feasibility (as in, gauging whether it will make any money) of a product or service idea before creating it? Is it all Adwords? Did having a large readership help your confidence? Gut feeling?
“Feasibility testing” is drastically different depending on how you view it. On a macro level, for let’s say Apple. I can see where traditional testing of a market is absolutely vital to their operations. I get that, although I can hardly speak to something of that magnitude with no experience in it. However, I can speak a little to “feasibility testing” on a micro level… for the smallest of small business people. In the situation of a consulting, offering services, or creating information products on an individual level, I strongly believe traditional testing is over-rated. Instead of focusing on the sample size of XYZ split test to see what market youshould be in, let your passions and own interest determine your market. If you are truly passionate about the field you are working in, it should be relatively easy to brainstorm products that you want to see or have. Do you love Fantasy Football? You don’t need a campaign to figure out what people want. If you are in it, if you are a fan of the industry… do what you already know is missing. Brainstorm what types of services you would pay for. What types of product would be valuable enough to give you an edge? For other perspective ask you close friends or network that also is passionate about the industry. You don’t need 10,000 clicks. Just ask 3-5 true fans and you’ll see the patterns that emerge. If you are lucky enough to already have a small audience (from a blog, an existing customer base, or similar situation), you can create a simple poll. Put some real time into the questions. Don’t imply answers in the question itself. Give them as equally weighted options as possible and let the people that are passionate about you, guide your decision.
Glen Alsopp: Viperchill
If I’m promoting something on Clickbank, the grav and %refd gives me an idea
of whether something is selling well and whether a lot of affiliates are making sales. If you make something yourself, then you should generally know the niche so you wouldknow if there is an audience for that kind of product. My real ‘market testing’ comes in the form of keyword research. If you can get traffic, you will make money.
As for your site, excellent job. It looks very professional. One thing I would suggest is highlighting the word ‘can’t’ in the header – that confused me a little.
I’d say the most valuable resource is your readers. Once you have a decent-sized, established following, you cannot get any better feedback on your product ideas. You can also learn a lot by talking about your ideas with fellow entrepreneurs, who will critique, help improve, and shoot your ideas out of the sky when necessary. But, if you have a readership, it’s always great to interact with them on Twitter, through blog comments, putting out questions in your blog posts, and using surveys to gauge whether there is a market for what you’re thinking of putting together. The people who read you most are the most likely to buy from you, because you’ve already established that relationship with them and they like & trust you. I’d also recommend doing keyword research with a tool like Market Samurai (although there are a number of free options you can string together out there to do almost the same) to see how much search traffic there is for your niche, how competitive it is for advertising and search engine ranking, and the profitability of those keywords (or, how likely it is that people are in the right mindset to break open their wallets when they search for what you’re offering).
Chris Guillebeau: The Art of Nonconformity
I would start with the existing audience – survey them to understand their needs, and also pitch your ideas to see what resonates. The quality of the relationship with people is much more important than large numbers. I launched my first product with only about 3,000 readers. I know that Adwords is sometimes presented as a good way to evaluate ideas, but the challenge is you have no relationship with people who come to a site that way — so the data may not correlate with how your real audience will respond. The other thing that’s important is to make sure the value proposition is very clear. When people buy the product, exactly what do they receive and how will they be helped? The more well-defined this is, the better.
Andrew Warner: Mixergy
Having a large audience will help you learn what to build. Running a cheap, fake adwords campaign will cost a you a bit more, but it will be faster.
1. Existing demand for similar products – a saturated market is not a barrier to entry in an increasingly large marketplace like the internet.
2. Feedback from blog posts that have mentioned and hinted at the product prior to release. This is probably the most important consideration, especially if your blog readers are going to be your market (which is probably the case for most people).
3. The “have I been tempted to buy or have I bought similar products” question. If you would buy something similar, or even better if you have bought something similar, then you know that the product is something that someone would buy.
Greg Rollett: Rockstar Lifestyle Design
I created a lead magnet (100 Resources For DIY Musicians PDF). They had to enter their name and email to get it. On the download page I said something to the effect of, look below to download, BUT I wanted to show you something cool I was working on. It was an offer for the New Music Economy product. It is a 4 module course and I only created materials for the 1st module. If people bought it I would obviously make the rest. The course was delivered over email over 4 week, giving me a week in between to create each module. So, I drove leads into my funnel and then I converted that just over 2% for the test product. Now I am doing a launch for the product and its going really, really well.
Idea number 2 is to hold a teleseminar / webinar. Get people to signup and talk to them. So you not only collect leads, but they are going to tell you what they need at the end of the call if you ask for questions and you get an MP3 or video that you can use as part of the product. Hope that helps man. Talk soon.
J. D. Bentley: Wage Slave Rebel
I wouldn’t consider myself an expert because I don’t have any track record or experience to draw from. However, even in my ignorance I know that it’s usually a terrible idea to go on a gut feeling. I at least want to know that, generally speaking, there is an audience for what I want to create even if I’m not completely sure how to go about reaching them. For example, when I was in the planning stages of Simple Weight Loss for Men, it wasn’t a weight loss book for men. It was a weight loss book for anyone. Of course, you don’t have to worry about whether or not there will be an audience for a weight loss book. There will be. It’s one of those endless topics that can be written about again and again. But the problem is that since the topic is so wildly popular and incredibly broad, you’ll find yourself up against lots of competition. So, for me, it was about finding a way to differentiate. Whenever I research an idea I always go to the Google Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for. If people are searching for what you’re making, you know you’ve got an audience. I knew I had a weight loss book that I loved, but I had no idea what would set it apart. In the Keyword Tool I did a quick search for “How to weight loss” so that I’d get a list of “how to” and “weight loss” topics. One of those topics happened to be “Weight Loss for Men”. The keyword “weight loss” gets, on average, 16 million searches per month. Definitely too much to stand out. However, “weight loss for men” got about 22,000 searches. I knew I had found my audience. However, just because you have an audience who wants information that you’re selling doesn’t mean you have an audience willing to pay for the information you’re selling. A simple test is to search Google for your keyword and see if ads pop up and what kind. If there are ads on that keyword then it means someone is making a sale from it. That’s a good sign.
My Thoughts on Their Thoughts
Crap. Seems like they aren’t that big on Adwords. Using the keyword tool maybe, gauging their audience, definitely. Now what. I need to focus on that “core” I’ve referenced before. The “core” puts out free content, offers top quality value and builds a group of followers, usually through a blog or service website of some sort. Give value. Your followers in the niche of web design, or animal wigs, or travel or whatever are the people who will tell you if your product is going to go anywhere when you hint at creating it. Give yourself away (maybe even your first product), do stuff for people even slightly interested in what you have to say, when it comes time, they’ll help you out. Growth will ensue. Otherwise or in addition, you can take your chances with the un-perfect science of online keyword research and advertising to launch your idea. Adwords won’t hurt and you never know, but seek balance. Sometimes I wish I had something to sell you guys, the readers here, hah! but that’s not my mission for The LDP, this is all about testing and meeting people, and I love you all for your engagement! If you ever want or need IT advice, want to collaborate or know what I’m working on, feel free to contact me, or head over to IT Arsenal and check me out there.
Was it all for Nothing Then?
Absolutely not. Reading up on copywriting, running Adwords tests and creating a sales page gave me a real feel for a product launch, allowed me to honestly figure out how e-mail campaigns work (from the technical side) and find meaning in Google Analytics. Along the way I consulted with several people to review the sales page and give me their opinion, the entire process shaped my final decision and constantly kept me involved in helping entrepreneurs, my core message at IT Arsenal. I’ve personally walked 4 readers from this blog through my backup advice and heard from several others interested in the product or where the “core” model of IT Arsenal is going. The takeaway for me is to build more of a homebase if I want assurity in testing profitability.
Am I going to create Backup Informer?
Yes, that’s the final say. I wish I had a much bigger crowd at IT Arsenal, one that I could call my “fan base” for gauging whether they will be interested in this product or not. I’ll certainly continue to grow that fan base, but based on the collective results of Adwords testing, expert/reader review here, and my gut feeling, I’m going to give it a try. One of the golden elements of creating a digital product is that I won’t be wasting any actual money as I create it. I’ll be risking my time and effort because I’m still unsure as to it’s profitability potential, but you know what, I’m a whole lot less unsure than I was when I started, and risk is part of the process anyway. It’s just a lot more calculated now. Onward to business growing, follower growing and digital product launching.
What are your thoughts? Leave a Comment.