If you’re in the business of developing new products, it’s not always easy to know if an idea will be a winner. In fact, you can’t really know if a new product will sell until it’s out in the market and the numbers start rolling in. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly test an idea before sending it out into the world for public consumption. After all, you wouldn’t drive or walk across a bridge that hadn’t been stress tested beforehand.
But how exactly should you go about testing an idea? Let’s look at 3 innovative ways you and your team can test a new product idea.
1. Ask Your Team: What Problem is Being Solved?
A successful product tends to solve a common problem, no matter how small. Therefore, this should be the starting point of your discussion with your project management team. Hold a brainstorming session where each team member individually writes down what problem they think the product will solve. Then, discuss each team member’s answers to see if there are any glaring differences. If one or more team members can’t come up with an answer, there may be a problem with the product idea itself.
Running this team management exercise will help foster a productive discussion that can help hone in on the product’s main function and trim its fat. A product may, in fact, be useful for solving multiple problems. But it’s important to know this beforehand so the marketing team can craft a strategy that touches on all of these aspects.
2. Hire a Focus Group
Ultimately, you want your product to appeal to a wide group of people once it’s on the market. Holding several meetings with your team is great for cultivating a team culture, but it’s not enough to get a sense of how consumers will feel about your product. Hiring a focus group can be a powerful way to get objective, external feedback on your new product idea.
Focus groups come in all shapes and sizes. They might be made up of a random selection of people, or they might be a more targeted group based on the product’s ideal market demographic. Those in the group can learn about the product, test it out, and give direct feedback to a moderator. Participants are also often encouraged to speak with one another about their experience. These conversations can reveal powerful insights into a product’s shortcomings and strong points.
3. Test it in the Field
Focus groups provide one way to let several people try out your new product idea in a controlled setting. But why not also take your product out of the office and out into the world? Nothing is stopping you from going up to people and asking them if they’d like to try a sample of something or play around with a product for a little bit. You can even incentivize them with discounts or other offers. This is also a good exercise in sales leadership training.
If a product hasn’t been built yet and is still in the design phase, you can still test the idea by asking people if they would be interested in such a product. If enough people show interest, it’s a good indicator that the idea has value. You might then move forward with an online presale campaign that allows consumers to invest in the idea and receive the product once completed.
If you’re not around enough people to test out your product or answer your questions, try calling and emailing potential leads, asking them if they would be interested in receiving a product from you free of charge. In exchange, you can ask them to send back their thoughts on the product. Combining this feedback with your focus group results will give you the optimal pool of data to improve or change your product idea.
New product ideas are improved over time with the help of many people, both internally and externally. A large part of leadership development is understanding the importance of this additional input. Even if you’re in charge of overseeing the new product idea, it takes more than one person to bring that idea to its fullest potential.
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