Fingerpaint Picasso

Last time I described how you can easily be led astray by asking your email subscribers whether your idea for a new product is any good.

I mention this because you frequently hear the advice to start a pre-launch list as a way to “validate” a new product idea.

This is a solid approach.

The pre-launch list allows people to express interest in your idea before you've created it.

And when you go to launch you have a “starving crowd” waiting to buy.

The problem arises when you're relying on your existing email list to jumpstart this new list.

This is a lot like the 5-year-old who smears out an abstract landscape with finger paint…

Then goes to his mom for an assessment of his new work of art.

Mom's gonna hang that painting on the fridge like it's the lost final painting of Pablo Picasso.

If your goal is to validate your idea, by all means start by inviting people to join a product launch list.

But the people you invite should be those on the fringes of your audience.

Drop hints about it on social media.

Write blog posts for cold audiences.

Talk to people you meet at conferences.

Can you get semi-strangers excited enough about your idea to join your pre-launch list?

What you're trying to discern here isn't whether you can make some sales to people who already love you and want to throw money at you just to show their appreciation. (This happens.)

What you want to know is whether your idea is appealing enough to sell without first requiring that you've build years' worth of warm fuzzy feelings.

This makes ongoing marketing AFTER the launch much more doable.