Will people like my product?
Will they pay for it?
These are common questions asked by the first time founder…
They want to know if the idea they have in their head is worth pursuing.
And here’s what a first time entrepreneur might go and do:
- Create a lengthy business plan
- Form an LLC
- Setup a business bank account
- Hire a designer for detailed product designs
- Seek out a manufacturer to produce an initial prototype
- Launch product on website and post content on social media
The approach above can cost literally tens of thousands of dollars and lots of valuable time.
And here’s the kicker…
You don’t need to do any of that.
In fact, you can figure out if your product has any real demand on a budget of less than $1,000.
In this post, I want to share 6 simple steps that can help you validate your product idea before you invest a single dollar into production.
Table of Contents
1) Create Realistic 3D Renderings
Why spend thousands of dollars on a prototype when you can spend a few hundred on a photorealistic image of your product idea?
That’s exactly what we’ll do here.
Search “3d renders” on Fiverr or Upwork and explain your product concept to the artists.
The more detailed you can be about what you need, the better the intial images the artist will create.
Don’t expect a perfect set of renders right off the bat.
You will definitely have a bit of back and forth until the images look like what you’re going for.
Clear and concise communication is key here.
After the renders are complete and you’re happy with the results we can move onto the next stage.
2) Build out a Landing Page
It’s time to put together a simple landing page.
Don’t go crazy here.
Just a one page lander that includes your renders and some descriptive copy of the product’s features and benefits.
You will also include a form so that customers can sign up and opt-in to learn more about the product.
A basic layout would look like this:
- Header image with clear headline (value proposition)
- CTA to sign up (offer prospect some incentive like a gift card for $50 towards their purchase)
- Render #1 showing off specific feature accompanied with text that demonstrates the benefits
- Render #2 with features and benefits
- Render #3 with features and benefits
- Company information or “About” section detailing why you’re building this product
- Sign up forms sprinkled throughout the page with clear call-to-action
The landing page doesn’t need to be perfect. Most important thing is to get something up and functional.
A good landing page builder I like is Elementor, which integrates with WordPress. This can be a bit more technical but it is lower cost.
3) Use Facebook Ads to Drive Traffic
At this stage we have an offer and a place for your prospects to sign up.
All that’s left is getting that offer in front of eyeballs.
Launch a “lead” or “conversion” campaign on Facebook with the intention of getting prospects to sign up to your list.
Create compelling visuals with the renderings that were previously completed and upload those into your Facebook ads manager.
Set a modest budget of $25-$100 a day and let it rip.
Nowadays you don’t need detailed targeting. Facebook is sophisticated enough where you can leave the targeting to “Broad” and they will find the right people for you.
You will want to let these run a few days before you come back to check.
4) Setup an Email Sequence to Nurture Leads
Write out a 5-7 day email sequence that takes your prospect through a logical flow about your offer.
Introduce your product and brand and give them several reasons why your product is better than whatever else is out there.
Highlight the various benefits and ask your prospects for additional feedback.
In this email flow, you can insert various surveys that will allow your prospect to give specific feedback on what they like, dislike, or would prefer to change.
For example, if you’re testing a new bag concept, some good questions for your prospects might be:
- What bag are you currently using for your everyday needs?
- What is the most difficult thing about using that bag?
- If you could change anything about it, what would it be?
- What made you sign up and want to learn more about our product?
You can get really granular on this stuff, but the above are just a few examples of where to start.
The goal is to begin to understand who your customer is (i.e. who is resonating with the ads), and if the product in question is somethign they would actually buy.
You can even create a second landing page strictly designed to “Reserve” their spot. Here you would include the price that you intend to launch at.
As a best practice, you would show the Regular retail price and the discounted price that they are receiving.
Something like this:
A good email marketing software (and free) to use is Mailerlite.
It’s simple to setup and functional enough for a beginner.
5) Analyze Results, Iterate, and Optimize
After a few weeks you will begin to get more and more sign ups.
Take the total amount you’ve spent on ads and divide it by the number of people who have opted in to your list.
You should be shooting for $2-$3/email. But this may vary depending on the product and industry.
From here we can start to make adjustments.
If sign ups are too low, it may be an issue with the ads, landing page, or offer.
For ads, check the click-thru-rates (CTR). Typically anything above 1% is ok, but ideally you’d be around 2-4% CTR.
If it’s lower than 1% CTR then you need to try creating some new visuals that are more attention grabbing.
If CTR is in the correct range range and sign ups are still low, then you have a conversion rate problem.
This mean you need to make adjustments to the landing page.
Improve the copy, tweak the layout and design until it flows better and looks more professional.
You can continue to tweak and iterate your funnel until you get optimal sign ups costs.
But more importantly, you should be trying to get as much feedback and data as possible.
Reach out to every person who signs up on the list and ask if they’re willing to jump on a quick call.
You’d be amazed at how many people are willing to speak to the “founder” of a product that is going to help them in their lives.
6) Kill or Launch Your Product Idea
After you get a few hundred sign ups and collect customer feedback, you should have a clear picture whether the product you’re creating has demand or not.
If results are poor and feedback is weak, then kill the product and head back to the drawing board.
If feedback and demand is positive, then great!
Keep scaling ads, and repeat step #5 until you’ve built a sizeable email list.
From here, you can start working on an initial prototype and begin preparing for a pre-launch campaign where you begin collecting pre-orders.
Many will do a crowdfunding launch at this stage or begin accepting pre-orders on their own Shopify site.
Starting an e-commerce brand can be difficult but with all the tools we have nowadays, it’s more accessible than ever.
You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get your idea off the ground.
Use renderings, a solid landing page, emails and Facebook ads to start building your list of prospective customers.
I used this exact strategy above to generate well over $50,000 in pre-order sales before any physical product was created. In fact, you can see our very first crowdfunding campaign we did here for the Kennedy Weekender bag.
If you like this post and want to learn more e-commerce strategies for aspiring entrepreneurs, then sign up to my newsletter.