Why and How to Market Test your Product or Service

It’s enticing, intoxicating even, the feeling of creating a new product service and wanting to share it with the world. It’s part of the reason you decided to get into business for yourself, the thrill of creating something the world has never seen before. But the heady rush of creativity can quickly turn into failure if you don’t market test.

Why Market Testing is Important

Testing is a large part of finding out what works before jumping into an idea in the business world. Whether planning a postcard printing campaign, a completely new business idea, or the launch of a new product or service; all business decisions should be tested before fully exposing to your target audience. By market testing your idea or product, you will save yourself from both too much expense and even bad PR, should it not be popular or required.

Market Test on a Small Scale

Market testing involves taking a small-scale version of your business idea and getting customer feedback. The Mythbusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, constantly build new and crazy projects to prove – or more likely disprove. But they rarely build a complicated product in full-scale right out of the gate. Instead, they scale it down and build a model that can demonstrate their idea, but won’t cost a lot of time and money if they’re wrong. They then fine-tune the concept before ramping it up to the large, and usually explosive, finale.

You should market test for the same reason Adam and Jamie build small-scale models. You can’t afford to be wrong in the large scale. If it’s a new restaurant venture, you might have perfected the recipes, but until you know how people will respond, it’s dangerous to buy everything necessary to open a new eatery.

Objective Practice Makes Perfect

As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to become defensive of your idea. It’s a good idea and the world needs to hear it. But there’s something about the incubation process that can distort reality and ruin a perfectly good project. You’ve been exposed to this project for so long that you’ve lost the ability to be objective about it. Every mom thinks her child is beautiful. Every small business owner thinks her idea is perfect. However, reality is that it’s not perfect, not yet. And if you rush your imperfect idea to market, you might not survive the time it takes to perfect things.

Ideas for Market Testing

Instead, work in the small scale, figure out the blemishes that need to be corrected, and then you can ramp up production with confidence. Not every market test needs to be the same; be creative and do what’s best for you and your small business. Here are a few suggestions to spark your creativity:

  • Cater an event for a local organization to test market your new restaurant menu.
  • Give away prototypes of your product in exchange for people answering a questionnaire.
  • Use social media to solicit ideas from your friends online.
  • Set up a website with the product or service described and have a survey at the end asking for feedback.
  • Run a beta test for your services. Offer a discount in exchange for feedback.
  • Send postcards to a select area with a link to an online survey about your business idea.

However you choose to market test for your small business, take the criticism constructively. Even when people have negative things to say about your idea, it’s because you created something that forced them to respond. Take the ideas you can use, dismiss the ones you can’t and make your idea the best it can be.

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No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

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