One of the most important aspects of launching new products is validating that there is a demand. There is nothing more discouraging than spending your time and energy creating a product that you think people will love, only to run out of money and not get the sales you had hoped for.
In this training session we discuss product validation. Watch the video here for slides and practical examples. Read below for a synopsis.
When you have a good product idea and you’re about to spend a lot money on inventory, and then source that product from the supplier… How do you know that people will buy that product? How can you find out if it’s a good product to move forward with? This is something so many people struggle with because there’s just so much to do in terms of validating your product.
I’m going to give you some ways that you can get started with this. And hopefully this helps you when you’re considering your next product.
Choosing Products with the Most Profit Potential: During the previous ideation class, we talked about which types of products between commodities, white label, private label and unique products have the most profit potential. Private labeling unique products have the most profit potential, because you get to have control over the price, and they’re highly scalable. You can sell them in multiple channels, so they have the most profit potential.
The competition with private label and unique products is on the demand and the unique selling point versus on white label and commodity products we’re trying to make our brand look better than others and we’re competing on price and reviews because we have a lot of competition selling the same product.
Why, When, and How to Validate Your Product Ideas
The Shark Tank Test. I want you to have products that make it past the Shark Tank. I actually tried out for Shark Tank season 18. I was not picked to air on the show but it was an exciting experience for me. What are the reasons that the sharks say no to the products that come into the shark tank?
Here are the top three reasons for failure in the tank. The first reason is the product is not unique. So for example, the eye block product was one of these camera covers for the laptop, and the shark came back and said, “I just use a piece of tape to cover my laptop webcam cover.” They didn’t see that this was a unique product, there was a reasonable alternative solution already. Make sure your product is unique enough to solve a problem or meet an unmet demand.
Do you have sales? So sales is another form of validation. How many products that go into the Shark Tank, have you seen that have just lost a deal because they didn’t have any sales, no sales proof, no validation that people will actually buy it or there isn’t enough demand. This example, the qubit learning toy, the plan was to approach toy companies and his sales were super low. This is kind of an easy product to make, and again, no validation and no go in the shark tank.
The business is not scalable. The ladies pictured here were making all this soup, their margins were really, really low. The sharks concerns were being able to sell it everywhere and their profit was only 5%, not enough for a shark to make their money back or scale the company.
The questions you want to ask yourself when you’re considering a product:
- Is it unique?
- Can I get sales?
- Is the business going to be scalable?
Why should you validate? Just because you love a product doesn’t mean people will buy it. Just because I love this coffee mug doesn’t mean people will buy it if I decide to add a light to it so I can drink coffee at night and read. Will other people buy that? You need to know when you are considering a product.
If our branding is good enough, we might be able to convince a few people to buy our products. But we really do want to make sure that someone is going to buy our electric dog polisher. We want to confirm customer demand to avoid losing our investment before sourcing.
How can we validate customer demand? This first method is so powerful, because the information that you get back is so awesome. You want to create a visual mock up, or even a prototype. So let’s say I want to do the coffee mug with the light in it. I can take a picture of this coffee mug and another of a light and then submit those to someone on Fiverr.com and ask them to create me a mock up of a coffee mug with a built in light and a recharging port.
Then save that picture on your phone, or you can print it out, and take that out in the public or use social media to ask people about it. With this coffee mug, I could go into coffee lovers group on Facebook, or on Reddit, in a subreddit, wherever people are hanging out online and talking about coffee, and you’re going to ask two very important questions.
The first question is, what do you think about this? You’re not going to introduce yourself and say “I’m excited to bring this product to market”. No, you’re going to go to people that might be drinking coffee, maybe you’re going to your local coffee shop, show them the picture and you’re gonna say, “Excuse me. Can I ask you a quick question? What do you think about this?” Or post that picture in the facebook group with text “What do you think about this?”
You’re gonna get some interesting feedback. Like, oh, wow, that’s, that’s cool. Or, oh, I’ve seen something like that before. Oh, really? Where? Where have you seen it? That’s really good information for you. Or, oh, where can I buy that? That’s really great feedback. You may find it requires more customer education by the feedback you get if they don’t seem to understand it.
The second question you’re going to ask is how much would they pay for it? So you get their feedback, and then you say, “how much would you pay for it?” Some people will say “I wouldn’t buy it for myself, but I would buy it as a gift for my sister who loves coffee and reading.” So you learn that people see it as a gift, or people see it as a gag gift. Or some people they would buy it for $5. Well, then you knew that the perceived value of that product is just not very high. Listen to the video for my example stories of why this matters!
Finally, record and analyze their responses. The pros of this, it can be very informative. It can really help you make design decisions for your products. The cons is that you really need a lot of opinions. If you ask a larger group or a different group of people, you might get different answers. Pickfu is another really great tool that you can use to show two things and ask
Which one do you prefer? There’s all kinds of ways to do this. But the risk is this confirmation bias, if I launch a product and I didn’t get enough information, then it might now sell or be profitable for me.
The second way to validate customer demand is to source and try to sell a small quantity of a similar product. This is what we do in the sourcing small masterclass, we basically teach you how to buy a small amount of products from AliExpress or wholesalers, and we teach you how to choose that product, white label it, send it into Amazon and see if it takes off. This is a way of small batch testing. A lot of people do this with test products either to learn the process of selling online or to see if something would take off. Watch the video for my example of something that I tested that didn’t take off.
Is the test product the exact product that I would eventually develop and private label? No, because I’m going to take the feedback from the customer, I’m going to further develop it, and then I’m going to launch. Then the risk you might give away your idea. If the product takes off and it’s selling really well, you might give away your idea. When I invented my product, I was terrified that someone would steal my idea. And now I know, after working with so many inventors and entrepreneurs, that 99.9% of of people have no idea how to develop a product and bring it to market. So stealing your idea, unless you’re going to put it out there in a group of people that know something about that. It’s just not necessarily something that you have to worry about. The risks are far greater and not moving forward with an idea that could make you millions of dollars.
When to validate. We have to validate before all of our critical decision points. If you skip validation after receiving samples from suppliers, you might move forward with the first order of $10,000 or more and go to market with a product that ultimately isn’t going to be profitable for you. So validate every step along the way.
- When you find your idea, your concept, your differentiation, validate your idea
- When you find your supplier and you get your rough price well then you need to validate your price. What retail price will people pay for your products you need to go back and validate. I might validate the price when I’m validating the idea. So the coffee mug with the light in it, I can ask them how much people would pay for it. But then after I find the supplier this coffee mug with a light in it may look a little bit different. It might be made out of a different material, I have to make sure that the new version of this coffee mug is a good price that is going to be profitable for me because now I know how much it’s gonna cost me to source it!
- Then I’ve got to validate my packaging. You need to know your packaging is communicating to the customer. You can always put yours up against your competitors, and do a google or a PickFu survey.
- Place your order with confidence, because you know you have validated every step along the way.
There are many ways to validate. In the course we really spend a lot of time on validation, understanding the different ways to validate because not every product is going to be the same. You’re going to want to have many tools in your toolbox.
So how do we avoid errors? The data you collect from validation is only as good as your testing methods, you have to collect good data in order to make good decisions. In method one, when we’re asking people about our product, what they think about it, how much they will pay for, you need to ask strangers. We don’t want to ask our mom, remember, mom loves you. And she’s gonna tell you that your product is great. You really want to get a good accurate response. Watch the video for examples of how to do this. You want to ask a lot of people, at least 30 people is a good start, and then understand your customer avatar and ask the right people.
In method two, we want to try and purchase products that are similar as possible without giving away your idea. We want to split test the price point. Finally, know your success parameters. How many items sold per week equals a winning product? What are your goals for that product? So make sure that you outline those from the beginning.
I have a valid idea, I know people love it and want to buy it! Awesome, it’s time to plan. In the course, I spent a lot of time on business planning, because I really want to help you understand what your projections should be to set up your business so that eventually you can expand it, scale it, you can grow it.
Market analysis, who our target demographics, what’s our total addressable market? Who is the competition? What is our sales potential? Knowing this information will only help us do even better with our launch.
Financials: We need to understand how much our startup costs will be. How many people have spent a ton of money on inventory, and then they run out of money because they don’t realize that advertising is going to be so expensive, or they didn’t actually calculate their startup costs, or they paid way too much for their product. I would say at least 80% of my clients fall into this bucket unless they have been through my training. So that’s the thing is just making a few of these tweaks, we can really ensure that people are sourcing products profitably, that they’re ready to scale, that they understand their startup costs.
Distribution. Could you get a distribution partner? Could you get this on the shelf of retailers, you don’t just have to launch on Amazon. I do recommend launching on Amazon and your own website, because it’s a really great way to get initial sales data. I’m literally redesigning my product right now, because of the data that I got back after selling thousands of units on Amazon, and that’s going to help me make an even stronger entry into retail. I want you to map out your channels so if Amazon shuts you down, it’s just a small piece of your equation.
Long and short term goals. Where do I want my business to be three years from now? What am I aiming for? What are my sales goals, what are my channels? What am I working towards? In 10 years? Do you want to exit? Do you want to sell it?
These are the things that we want to really start working on before we go heavily into sourcing this product, because then we’re going to understand what we need to do, we’re going to have a proven path to move forward.
Winning products. They are easily scalable, they’re highly profitable. You can have one product making you plenty of money every month, that you could definitely replace your income and it’s going to have a longer life cycle. I’ve been selling my product that I invented now for two years. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my sales potential.
In the course I teach about validation and criteria for ranking your products so that you really understand how to make sure people are going to buy it and which products to prioritize over other ideas. At one point on my whiteboard, I had 28 products and had to pick the ones that I’m moving forward with. We need to understand this because when we get into this Amazon private label space, we feel this pressure to launch 800 products, and it’s really important to know how to zero in on those products are going to be highly profitable for us.
The two most important criteria are validation and profitability. You want to make sure that this product is profitable for you. That’s why we ask how much people would pay for it and why we spend some time on sourcing it profitably and understanding our numbers. These are important aspects to learn that can make a difference in whether you run out of money after your first order, or whether you are prepared and wildly successful.
The next course in our mini series is going to be about sourcing and sourcing profitably. How do we find a manufacturer? How do we source a product? What are some considerations that we need to have, and I’m going to talk about that in this next class, see you there and access our whole mini-series at https://amazingathome.com/c2lcourse