We discussed the founding principles of a successful entrepreneur last week. We went into detail about Idea Discovery and Development as well as Client/Target Discovery and Development.
The object of last week’s exercise was to help you know specifically
- What your value is i.e. what you can do well, what you have inside you that is commercially viable and which of your ideas you can turn into a business.
By now you understand what you can become the best at. Focus on what you are good at and focus on what you love. Unlike others who just start businesses because they have an idea, you now have written down a list of commercially viable business ideas that you understand better than most people. By now you know what your message is and what makes you unique. Remember what we said, “a person without understanding is literally walking around in the dark. Understanding enlightens and saves an individual from trial and error.”
- Who you are fit to serve i.e. who you ideal client is, what her burning pains and ultimate desires are.
You also know what your ideal client looks like, what his purchase history is, who she looks up to and even what websites and blogs she reads daily.
Now that we have founder/market fit. We are going to look at how to match your unique insights, skills, training and expertise with the problems and desires your ideal client is begging to have solved and fulfilled. In addition to this you know which niche you can serve and dominate.
Someone sent in a question I decided to address on the podcast so that this doesn’t become a 10,000 word post. His question was with regards to creating a product consumers do not already know they need and how that applies to customer identification and development. The basis for his question was a quote commonly attributed to Steve Jobs where he supposedly said Apple did not believe in market research. Another synonymous quote is attributed to Henry Ford where he also supposedly said this…
I have personally never read a Henry Ford bio where he states anything close to the above quote but I still address this concern in this podcast. The reason it is an important question is because some entrepreneurs are afraid to do market research in case it alters their original idea. They have also heard of people who just started a business without any research and made millions. My short answer for this is that there are two kinds of idea people in business. The first kind are the revelation folks. They got their ideas from a dream or lightbulb moment almost coincidentally.
Larry Page is said to have gotten the idea for Google from a dream.
Paul Mcartney of the Beatles said he got the song, Yesterday from a dream. Some say it is the song with the most covers in history and has been performed over 7 million times.
Einstein admits to have seen a mini-vision of the equation that gained him notoriety.
Depending on whether you read the 1665 accounts or 1752 manuscripts, it is said that Isaac Newton got a “lightbulb” moment and pontificated The Theory Of Gravity after an apple fell on his head.
The second kind of idea folks are those who got their world changing, money making ideas through experience, research or pattern recognition. Investors love these kinds of entrepreneurs and I do not blame them. After all would you give $10 million dollars to someone who wants to start a business in a niche in which they have no unique insight or experience? I go into detail and share my answer to the above in this podcast. Click here to listen.
Let’s get started with Week 2:Product Creation
Step 3: Product Creation: Demonstration and Proof of Concept
The demonstration stage is where you show proof of what your solution is. You know who the hungry starving clients are but you now have to provide a solution that solves their problem or fulfills their desire better than anyone. In business, showing is better than telling. I know a very bright gentleman with over 20 business plans but no business. This is why it is important to have a minimum viable product that demonstrates your value to your ideal client.
MVP-Minimum Viable Product
A minimum viable burger has a bun and meat. It isn’t the best burger in the world but to a hungry person, it does the job.
Your minimum viable product is a product or service that validates or proves that your idea is valid. Let’s say you have an idea for the perfect Indian restaurant after returning from a trip to Mumbai. You could either go right ahead and start with acquiring the right property, hiring chefs etc. or testing this idea with a minimum viable product. In the case of a restaurant, you can start by cooking at home and offering a delivery or pickup service for potential lovers of Indian food in your neighborhood of choice. You could also decide to rent space for a pop-up restaurant on weekends to test the validity of the idea. Another approach would be to start with a food cart that could later graduate into a full blown restaurant franchise. Your minimum viable product or proof of concept will let you know if foodies in your neighborhood prefer garlic or plain naan. You will also find out which price points they are willing to pay for.
P&G’s Gillette Guard is said to represent two out of every three razors sold in India. The story behind its success cost Gillette a fortune. The team initially tried a shortcut by testing their razors on MIT students of Indian descent instead of men who lived in India. MIT students loved the razor and gave it glowing reviews. According to the Daily Mail in 2003,
“But when Gillette launched the razor in India, the reaction was different. Executives were baffled about why the razor flopped until they traveled to India and observed men using a cup of water to shave. All the MIT students had running water. Without that, the razor stayed clogged.
‘That’s another ‘a-ha’ moment,’ Carvalho said. ‘That taught us the importance that you really need to go where your consumers are, not just to talk to them, but observe and spend time with them to gather the key insight.’
This case study is a warning to all entrepreneurs who try to entrepreneurs who try to launch products without doing their homework
What product or service can you build that will give the client greater satisfaction than any other product on the market?
The purpose of product creation is to demonstrate your value. If you say you make the best facial cleanser then show the world a face that has used your product. If you cannot use it on yourself then find a friend with acne problems and show before and after photos of the results. The results will get your ideal client’s to throw money at you without much convincing. As humans, we love social proof. We like to buy results so give your niche testimonials and case studies. Free trials, samples and demonstrations are a great way to get new clients fast.
For example if I owned a barbershop or spa in a good neighborhood, I would have promotions for new clients who live in the surrounding apartment buildings. I would approach the management of the building and create a package specifically for the occupants of that building. This would generate a steady stream of clients who live in close proximity to my business. You can use this tactic for other kinds of businesses that have physical locations or even service businesses such as cleaners and movers.
If your product is an information product, such as a course that helps college graduates get a job in the Cosmetics industry or a book that teaches retailers how to sell more stock, you can also provide a demonstration. I suggest you create at least 3 to 5 free pieces of content such as videos or blog posts and upload them to your website and YouTube. These pieces of content must be your greatest hits. By this I mean the free information you share must be more useful than what your competition is selling. Visitors to your website must get so much value from your free content that they must say to themselves, “if this is what she’s giving for free then I can only imagine how much value her course will provide.” This seems like common sense but you’d be amazed at how many people hold back their best material for fear that others will steal from them. They do not understand the Luke 6:38 principle. If you give amazing free content, people will want to pay for your products.
An example of this is the “Start Here” section on our website and the free eBooks you receive when you sign up at Growingstartup.com. The information in these materials are the most frequently asked questions creative entrepreneurs have shared with me over the years. When they come and get answers to how to start a business and how to build an online business empire, they know my paid courses must have high quality insights. Another way to demonstrate an information product is to offer the paid product for free to some people who need it in exchange for a testimonial or review.
Another variation of this is to do pro bono work or offer your services at a very low cost to a big client. You can then go to smaller clients and say “hey, that big client paid me for my work. I could do the same for you.” When I was starting my first consulting firm, I charged my first client about $1,000 for what should have cost $4,000 to get my foot in the door. I later used the work I had done for her in my corporate portfolio. When others saw the work even 2 years later, they paid me to do the same for them. The funny thing is that the first client never paid the full amount for that little invoice.
I think of demonstrations as samples that give people a taste of what they will get if they paid you for your products or service. Brands like Warby Parker allow customers to purchase up to 5 pairs of glasses to try on. They later return the 4 pairs that didn’t fit and pay for the one they like. If your product is of a nature where giving out a physical sample would be difficult, then you have to employ content marketing and feed images into the customer’s mind. This is one of my favorite kinds of demonstration. For a clothing brand, take pictures of people wearing your clothing in settings that your ideal client can relate with. When you are starting out, you do not always need studio shots. To tell you the truth, many emerging designers only take expensive study shots because that is what they see bigger brands doing. They say to themselves, “If Balmain and Zara are doing it, then it must be right.” One of the fundamental laws of content marketing is that your photos and videos must give people an escape into your reality. No one thinks of themselves dressed up and standing before a white background. Use props such as cars, dogs, jewelry and amplified scenarios that your ideal client can relate to.
Your products should satisfy the desires of your ideal customer as completely as you can. That is real value. Creative entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas in their heads that never become profitable businesses because they wait to be perfect. They want their colors, packaging and all the details right before they ship. Many times the reason for this is ego and at other times it is the result of listening to friends. Your friends will tell you your website is not complete or that you need better pictures because your phone’s camera is not enough. They will make you concentrate on things most client’s do not care about. In my experience less than 10% of your ideal client segment will care about the packaging of the product enough to buy a competitor’s brand. If you have done your homework and defined who the starving clients are, many of them will buy a semi-beautiful product that satisfies their desire completely over a beautiful product that is just regular. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of people who are creating products without creating the foundation I am teaching you here so when you launch, you will be magnitudes ahead.
I will even share another example to drive home the importance of launching right after you have done adequate homework instead of stalling for perfect conditions.
When we created the HTW empowerment beads during my tenure as Head of Marketing there, the product was far from perfect. Most of the beads were inconsistent in both look and feel because of the heat used in the production process. The brass ornament at the time was made by a local metalsmith who had no stamp so used his hands to write logo on the brass ornament. There were times when you couldn’t recognize what he had written so some of our friends and clients told us to invest in machinery for the sake of consistency. At the time, we were a small startup of less than 6 people so we could not afford to spend that much money. By God’s grace we got the idea to use the inconsistent design on the beads to tell a different story. We created a campaign based on the uniqueness of the beads.
We said “We are all translators of culture in some sense and we want something that is unique to us…Each of the bracelets is different from the other. They have little bumps and impressions that the others do not have. The inscription is hand written so yours and mine will never be the same. “
The bracelets became our best selling product for over 3 years.
To Do This Week
- Create a minimum viable product or a sample of your product. Do one or all of these demonstrations.
Write 3 posts or Record 3 YouTube videos where you offer some of your insights. If you do not have access to a phone with a decent camera, record your voice and upload them to Soundcloud or ITunes as podcasts. James Altucher says he does not have the face for YouTube so he records audio podcasts instead. I recently read that he made $10 million dollars in the last 10 months. If he can do it, you can do it today. I did the same.
Create 3 DIY videos to show the behind the scenes of how your product or service moves from the idea to the product stage.
Create a portfolio, newsletter or mini brochure that educates your ideal client. The brochure or newsletter can also have a promotion or free trial. For example if I recently advised an old friend who sells dogs to create a one page newsletter that he can distribute on a monthly basis to all dog owners in his city. The newsletter will be his promotional tool through which he educates dog owners on topics such as 7 things to know when buying dog food, 3 ways to train your dog, What should I feed my new puppy?, What vaccinations do I need after the first year? Etc.
Make a list of 5 people or businesses who would love your product or service and send them the sample content, free trials or ask for an opportunity to give them a free demonstration.
You can also tag people you believe will appreciate your product in your posts to get their attention. Some newbies are too proud to do this and I personally do not know of any successful entrepreneur who was shy about showing their value. I also know of a website on Twitter that consistently mentioned me in their high value posts till I paid attention to them.
Podcast link: https://soundcloud.com/jeffreymanu/should-i-do-market-research-or
If you’d like to share your results or any questions about this post, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below.