How To Validate Your Product Idea (And Get Paid In The Process)

This week a programmer named Eddy hit me up about testing out a piece of software he’s prototyping.

I won’t go into too much detail in case he moves forward with it, but basically it’s a tool for “scraping” email addresses to put together lists of potential prospects that you can reach out to.

We got to talking about the tool, and Eddy mentioned that he tried running some Facebook ads, and he wasn’t getting a lot of clicks.

Now he’s wondering what’s the best way to test the waters with this product idea before investing more time and effort into developing it.

A common mistake that I see a lot of entrepreneurs make is they try to turn their sales funnel over to the “machines” too soon.

Nobody really likes doing a lot of hard, manual labor. The idea of just throwing an ad up on Facebook to validate your business idea is definitely appealing.

Trouble is, when you try to use this “fly by wire” approach of learning what your customers want, it’s probably going to lead you down the wrong path.

For example, with Facebook ads, the #1 factor in how many clicks you get is *who* you’re choosing to target with the ad.

And right behind that is the image that you use.

So now Eddy doesn’t know whether he proved that there’s no demand for his product…

Or whether he just showed a boring ad to the wrong group of people.

Early on, when you’re still getting to know your customers, you want to have as much “high bandwidth” communication with as many prospective customers as is humanly possible.

This takes some sweat and elbow grease. There’s no denying that.

But the insights you pick up are priceless.

In this case, I was able to tell Eddy that he’s probably going after the wrong customers.

People that people that consider themselves email marketing professionals like me won’t be interested in the kind of tool that Eddy’s building.

That’s because I don’t want to see my email software accounts frozen for sending unsolicited email.

Eddy’s customer is someone who regularly purchases email lists and blasts out messages to generate leads.

There are plenty of businesses that aren’t shy about doing this.

Mortgage brokers, realtors, companies with large, hungry sales teams…

What I’d suggest to Eddy is that he track down a handful of these companies and work on selling them on hiring him as an email list consultant who can provide targeted lists at a lower cost than the big “info warehouses” out there.

They tell him the kind of list they want, and he “outsources” the work to the tool he’s developing.

This way you learn what your customer actually wants by talking to them face to face.

And you’re getting paid to develop the software tool that you can later turn around and sell.

When it’s time to circle back around to Facebook ads or whatever, you’ll know *who* will buy your software…

What specific outcomes they’re looking for…

And you know that your software can deliver, because you built it just for that purpose.

Now THAT’S a sales process you can automate.