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So you’ve got an idea for an eCommerce business. You’re really excited about it but want to make sure there is an audience for what you want to sell, how do you go about testing something like this and validating your product idea?

Your priority should be to make sure there is a market for your product before you start to invest time and money into your business. You’re off to a good start if your product addresses a pain point.

A pain point is basically a problem that needs solving for your customer. An example of this is our client Green Organics. The cofounders are vegetarians and were suffering from lack of energy and vitamins leaving them feeling like something was missing from their diets. They then discovered the benefits of specific superfoods which replaced the energy they would get from meat and felt great. This was a huge pain point they had, they just needed to test to see if other vegetarians have the same issues. Turns out they did!

If you can address an issue your customers have then you’ll find the rest of your marketing efforts become a lot easier; A product that solves a pain point is much more likely to be shared and talked about through peer groups.

So how can you find out if people have this pain point? Here are a few of our suggestions…

    1. Google trends

      Google trends gives you an insight into the products popularity by seeing if your product is increasingly being searched for or if it’s in its decline. Search your product name, variants of it or even the pain point your addressing to see if interest is growing or if it’s going out of style.

      Google trends

    2. Online marketplaces

      Online marketplaces, like Amazon and eBay, are a gold mine of information especially in the reviews section.

      Do their customers talk about their pain point?

      This can reaffirm that there is a market for your product.

      Could you improve on the current product on the market?

      Are people complaining about an element of the product? This could be an opportunity market yourself so you stand out from the competitors. For example Pure Chimp Matcha Tea has a few reviews saying it tasted very bitter. Could you create a recipe that makes the product sweeter and promote it with that as your unique selling point (USP)

      eCommerce reviews

      What about the products do the customers focus on positively?

      Even good reviews of other products are beneficial, again looking at Pure Chimp Matcha Tea. Their positive reviews mention fast delivery, that you get the energy of coffee without the ‘jitters’ and that it is just as good as the leading brands but cheaper. Not only can you add similar messages to your marketing but you can also gauge if your audience is price focused or doesn’t mind paying more for premier quality so you have information to base your pricing on further down the line.

      positive review

      Could it be marketed differently?

      Matcha Tea is mainly aimed at the health conscious, millennial generation as a power to make tea but maybe it could be marketing as a smoothie additive or in pill form? Maybe you could target the weight loss audience specifically or illnesses that decrease metabolism like diabetes.

      Is it selling?

      How many reviews does it have? What is it’s sold count? How many people are watching the item? All these clues can give you an indication of the product popularity and proof that there is an existing market for your product.

    3. Competitor research

      Competitors, especially successful competitors means that there is a market out there but it also means you’ll need to find your place in the crowd (Unless you have a unique product).

      Search the product and see who you’ll be up against, is there a lot of competition out there? What would make you stand out compared to them? Note down all you competitors, what they do well, what could be improved and see who links to them, where they promote themselves and who is sharing their content with apps like buzzsumo.com, ahrefs.com and mention.com.


    4. Get the word out

      Talk to your peers. If you are your own target market then you will probably be surrounded by people who could be interested in your product too. A big fear for many entrepreneurs is sharing their ideas with people for fear of it being stolen or being laughed at. To sell a product well you need to be confident in your decisions so tell your peers what you’re thinking of doing and gauge their reactions.

      Be careful with this one though as friends and family won’t want to hurt your feelings and will be more positive than most even if they wouldn’t purchase it themselves. You can push this test further by asking them to pre order your product. It’s one thing saying you’ll buy something compared to actually coughing up for it.

    5. Talk to your audience

      Now you need to go out there and find your audience and ask them directly what their pain points are and see if your product could solve this. Are there multiple audiences you could market to? For example coconut oil could be marketed to chefs as a healthy cooking oil or beauticians for teeth plucking or hair masks.

      When talking to your audience don’t try to sell your idea yet, just be curious about the concept: ‘Have you ever tried coconut oil as a hair mask?’, ‘Why not?’. Look for phrases that get repeated like ‘Putting oil on my hair would just make it greasy’. Feedback like this can either validate or discredit your idea and could save you investing time and money into a product that just won’t sell. If your customers would never trust putting oil in your hair can be beneficial they your product won’t sell unless you can prove that it works, a video demo for example.

      Here are some examples of where to research

      • Subreddits
      • Quora
      • Blogs
      • Youtube
      • Forums
      • Facebook groups
      • Twitter/ Instagram hashtags
      • Magazine websites forums
      • Conventions
      • Exhibitions
      • Group meetups (http://www.meetup.com/)

      If your audience is quiet responsive you can even set up a simple form with typeform.com and get more indepth feedback via these channels.

      beauty subreddit

    6. Preorders

      By this point you should have a good idea of if you think there is a market for your product but one way you can be more confident is by actually getting people to pay for your product, even before you have one. One way to do this is with sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Primarily to raise funds for businesses it also helps you build your own audience and gauge an interest with your customers actually putting their money where their mouth is.

      Another way you can do this is by setting up a simple preorder website page using sites like WordPress or Squarespace with pre order apps such as trycelery.com or Shopify with a preorder app. You can keep costs down whilst proving that people will pay for your product. Use the channels your customers use as researched in the last step to promote it and focus on who your audience will be when writing your copy. Don’t forget to address the pain points you have already established.

      You can promote your pre order page via Facebook ads. Facebook has a great targeting tool so you can focus on your demographic and only show your ads to them. If you invest a small amount now in testing it can save you hundreds down the line.

Now, not only should you be confident in your decision of whether or not to move forward with your product but the information you will have gathered will greatly help your marketing efforts. Make sure you have a copy of your customers pain points and how you solve them so you can regularly refer back to them.

Throughout your research keep in mind… Are you solving their pain points?

by Jennifer McMillen on 23/05/2016

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