How to test an idea (and avoid wasting your time)

So you have poured your heart and soul (and months of your time) into an information product. You’ve hired a gun copywriter to refine the content, a web designer to make your sales page and membership area look amazing, a videographer to make amazing videos and you’ve hit the launch button. Then crickets. No sales.

This is a common thing that I sometimes see some of my clients do. They haven’t tested their idea before jumping head first into the deep end and end up with product that no one wants to buy and at a financial loss.

That’s why I always recommend starting lean, before you jump right in. I’ve read a lot on starting ‘lean’ and testing ideas, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually tried it. Here is what I found…

Idea No#1  – Know when to walk away

I was searching for an idea for an information product to help me get through my maternity leave, and also something that was a little unique to what was already out there. When you’re in the online business world ‘bubble’ it’s hard to find something that is new. I looked at my list and noticed that a huge segment was other designers and freelancers who follow me for tips on business. So my first idea was a course for freelancers.

I wrote a rough outline of what I wanted to include in the content, the sales page and that was it. All up from idea to sales page launch it took around 8 hours to get something out to the world. I shared it with my list with an expression of interest form and I got no bites. I left it on my site (quite prevalently) for around 6 weeks and I maybe got a dozen leads, but it wasn’t enough to spend months creating content.

So I canned the idea and moved on. I hadn’t wasted any money on the project just a couple of hours of my time.

Idea No#2 – Your magic idea is probably right under your nose

It’s funny how sometimes something so simple can be right under your noses. I had been thinking of creating an online version of my Digital Alchemy course for a while, but just didn’t have anything to motivate me to do so. So I did the same thing as the freelance course, I created an outline, popped up a sales page and started taking expressions of interest. I got loads more than I was expecting, and that combined with my list of people who had expressed interest in my live workshops I had a good segment of people who would be potentially interested.

I opened the cart for sales for the program and sent it out to my segment on my email list and instantly it started selling. This was all before I had spent ANY time creating any of the content.

Tips for testing your idea

So here are my tips for starting lean for your next offering:

  1. Ask your audience what they are currently ‘stuck’ with
  2. Test your idea with a basic sales page + an email signup form that collects expressions of interest
  3. If you get interest, expand your sales page with more information and open cart and see if things sell
  4. Be prepared to ditch your idea or change your offering up a bit if you hear crickets
  5. Give yourself plenty of time to create your content (releasing content weekly/fortnightly is a great way to give you buffer).