How To Find An Idea That Sells
In a global economy bombarded with sales pitches and over-saturated markets, finding an idea that sells has never been more important. While catchphrases and gimmicks can attract attention, creating products and services that stand the test of time and provide solutions for customers is paramount to a successful business.
Use the following guidelines to help you find an idea that sells – and sells well.
Answer Customer Needs with Products and Services
Discovering needs and finding innovative and affordable solutions to fill them is the key to driving sales. The problem many companies run into is finding out what potential clients need. Fortunately, in our era of electronic and social media domination, communicating with customers has never been easier. It takes one post, email, or message to ask a question and start a dialogue.
If you have an established following, harness your social media power and ask questions directly to your followers about their frustrations, needs, and desires. Be sociable, expressing interest in their perspective and asking further questions to gain additional insight. Peruse Facebook groups connected to the market you are looking to serve or join Twitter chats in order to observe and interact with people. Expand your search to online forums and the comments section of potential competitor’s websites.
After crowdsourcing information about individual customer needs, analyze the responses and start brainstorming solutions to the issues that were mentioned the most.
Conduct Market Research
Once you identify a handful of exceptional solutions to top customer needs, start your market research before creating the product. This can be accomplished through reading magazine and internet articles, attending trade shows, informational interviews, and getting your hands on anything and everything related to the industry. This will allow you to become familiar with the market and get ahead of future competition, all the while incorporating what you learn into the final product or service.
A large part of market research includes evaluating the competition. Ask yourself questions such as:
- Are there similar products on the market?
- Who is selling them?
- What are the pitfalls of other similar products and how can they be improved upon?
- What is the typical price point? Quality?
- How are these products being marketed?
Use the answer to these questions as you move forward with product design.
One way to get a first-hand look at the competition is to sign up for email newsletters to see how other companies are selling to their customers. In later stages, you can analyze their marketing efforts and find a way to make yours more effective.
As you research, you will develop a feel for the market and whether or not it is oversaturated. If your idea is ahead of the curve and something no one else has, you may be able to gain momentum quickly and establish customers ahead of others.
Find a Niche
Upon gaining a well-rounded understanding of the market, find a niche for your product. While niching your product could potentially be seen as reducing the amount of people your company can appeal to, it is actually the perfect way to find an ideal customer type to direct your marketing efforts towards. This concentrated marketing effort allows you to pinpoint your customer and sell to them with laser-like effectiveness.
Everything from product design to branding can be optimized to cater to a specific niche. For example, a receipt-tracking app targeted to college students could provide tips for how to save money to pay student loans. The same product for a stay-at-home parent may give tips for saving on home repairs or include a tab to store digital coupons. If the app catered to high rollers, it may utilize sharp-contrasting colors and professional fonts to give an elite flair while the college-age app may utilize approachable blues and greens with a handwritten title font. Likewise, the college and parental apps may be free to consumers with money coming in from small pop-up advertisements while the high roller app may have zero advertisements and be sold to consumers at a premium.
The more you learn about your ideal customer within a niche, the more you can alter every part of the customer experience (from sales to product packaging) to make it feel like the product you created was designed just for them. This process can be replicated for multiple niches to boost business with the same base product.
Test and Refine the Product or Service
Before selling a product or service, consider testing it. Whether gathering a panel to provide formal feedback or giving away a few products in exchange for notes, be sure that someone other than you has interacted with what you are selling. If you are selling a service like business coaching, offer a handful of free half-hour sessions and have participants fill out surveys afterwards. Ask if participants would consider buying your product/service, as well as the price point that would make them hand over their cash.
Of course, the ultimate way to find out if you have a sellable idea is to sell it. Consider running a presale before the official product launch to see if the interest generated is enough to make a business case to move forward with production.
A secret of many millionaire internet moguls is selling a product or service before it is even created. Online course or ebook creators frequently do this and collect payment before crafting their content. If not enough orders are generated to justify spending the time it takes to create the materials, refunds are issued and the product is not created. While this can be a drain on a business’ reputation if they are continually issuing refunds and not churning out products, it is a sure-fire way not to spend a dime until you have the funds to devote time to product creation.
Regardless of how the initial product is marketed, the feedback received from the first round of sales is gold. Look at the feedback provided on sales pages, social media, trade shows, or whichever platforms customers are communicating over. Analyze whether or not the feedback is positive or not and note any areas that need improvement. Before a second round of sales, refine the original product in response to customer comments. Keep testing sales and fine-tuning the product and marketing until everything is running like a well-oiled machine.
Take Cost into Account
Creating an amazing product that is too expensive to sell can be a business breaker. If clients are unwilling to pay a price high enough to meet the profit margins you need, think about targeting a higher-end niche or look into sourcing alternative, cheaper materials. If you are a small business, consider whether or not larger businesses can aggregate and sell a similar product for a fraction of the cost. If so, it may be time to find a different idea and create another product.
When and if you choose to presell your item before creating it, be sure to have a well-informed estimate for pricing before your sales page goes live. If you are selling a product that can be created one time and be sold perpetually without further maintenance or financial drain (like an evergreen webinar or video ecourse), understand that amount of funds involved in set-up will likely be eclipsed over time if it does not happen during the first round of sales.
Invest in Marketing
Once you find a tested idea that sells, support it through your marketing efforts. If you have the best product or solution to a consumer’s needs but it is not easily found, it will not sell. Get together a game plan for how to reach your target market, be it through billboards, magazine advertisements, social media campaigns, or email. Follow up with the people who were involved in the initial research and show them how you created a product tailor-made for them.
Is your product an eco-friendly alternative? Great value? A new and revolutionary solution to a problem? Be sure to highlight the features that made the product a sellable idea in the first place and position it consistently across platforms.
When finding an idea to sell your next product, doing your due diligence can set you up for long-term success. With access to customer feedback at an all-time high and the ability to test and refine, your next idea may be your best idea.
We want to celebrate your success as an entrepreneur! Tell us about a product you successfully completed with this process with in the comments.