Your startup moves from the informal market test to a LIVE market test to get primary feedback.
Once you finished your informal market test, and you’ve taken the time to think through and form impressions from its results. You will need to be making the necessary changes to your startup’s marketing program. This includes your products prime benefits, sales copy, and descriptive product information on your marketing deliverables. You are now ready to move your marketing program to the next step—the live market test.
Here, your live market test can be executed as a standalone program, performed for 30 to 60 days ahead of your product launch. Or it can be the product launch itself, occurring during a kind of market launch probationary period. This is typically within the first 30 to 60 days of your product actual introduction in the marketplace.
Either way, in a live market test, you’ll be testing the pulling power of your startup’s marketing channels, programs, and deliverables with real marketing programs. Things like email marketing test, trade show displays, sales force support efforts, SEO, and online advertising placements. You’ll be spending money on your marketing budget. But not as much as you’ll be spending once you’re underway with your company’s ongoing marketing program. But only after you’ve adapted your marketing program in response to this market test.
The time it takes to execute this market test is roughly 30 to 60 days. And it can take place as soon as your startup is ready to deliver its product or service to its marketplace. A typical live market test usually includes one or more of the following marketing activities:
- A direct email test: a test of your products direct response sales potential, with a test email two samples of 3-6 of the best available email list of likely prospects in your industry
- Sales force support: if your startup employs a field sales force, as most B2B startups do, your tests would also include all marketing activities required to support your sales staff as they hit the streets, such as the development of marketing collateral and other sales material. Your startup sales force will follow up on the inquiry is generated by mailings, ads, or other marketing activities you execute during this test
- Trade show exhibit: if the timing is right, and there is an opportunity for your company to attend a major industry trade show as an exhibitor, then your test should focus on this major marketing opportunity
- Pay-per-Click advertising: lastly, and if your startup’s marketing budget allows, you can place a limited number of pay-per-click display ads and text ads in your industry’s leading keywords to test the responsiveness of your online market do online advertising.
You’re Market Testing Goals
While the goal of the initial, informal market test was to test the sales appeal of the benefits, copy, features, and in applications used in your startup’s marketing deliverables. The purpose of the live market test is to determine the actual response of your marketing program and deliverables in the target market. Additionally, the level of sales that ultimately can be converted from the inquiries generated by your marketing program. This market test may still be a test, but it’s a task that is intended to generate sales.
Plan Ahead to Measure Your Response
Because of the chaotic nature most startups. Procedures are often and not put in place to track and measure response to your startup’s first email campaign, ad placements, or other measurable marketing projects.
As a marketing manager, you’ll have to set up a system to actually measure the inquiries received, and the sales results of your email campaigns, ad placements, search engine optimization, and other marketing programs, in advance.
Be Ready for Change
As a marketing manager in a startup, you must be ready to change and improve your marketing program during this initial test/launch stage. You will be making adjustments to your advertising sales copy, product information, promotional offers, and pricing as needed. This is in response to the valuable feedback you received from prospects in your market. Who buy this time will be making their preferences known to your company sales reps, or indirectly through startups dealers or distributor networks.
From the standpoint of marketing execution, the only two things that count are inquirers and sales generated by your live market test meet your desired marketing goals. And, if not, how quickly you can make the necessary changes to your marketing program during the test to improve the results of your marketing program.
Execution of Your Startup’s Live Market Test
The marketing execution involved in a live market test for a startup or new product launch shares many similarities. Including the day-to-day execution of conventional marketing programs, except for these key differences:
While you’ll be executing many of the same kinds of marketing programs for a startup as you would for a more established company. However, in a startup—and especially during the initial testing phase—you’ll be doing everything much faster.
Time is limited during any new venture’s market test. Moreover, you must work faster to develop, execute, and manage your startup’s marketing program. You must also communicate the sense of urgency to the other members of your startup’s marketing team—your digital marketing agency or marketing consultant, and your key vendors.
This often places you in the position of having to run up and down your marketing programs chain of execution, sweet talking, and twisting arms with online ad sales reps, and other critical suppliers to your startup. And motivating them to work faster on your behalf when necessary.
Most of your suppliers already know that startup companies can sometimes grow into very large, profitable customers. They will work hard to meet the extreme deadlines of your rush marketing projects.
As long as you show respect for their work process by not pushing them into rush projects when it’s not necessary. Or interrupting a suppliers work schedule with their other customers due to a delay caused by your own preoccupation with another project.
Look for digital marketing agencies that use agile marketing project management.
The startup must conserve its startup’s capital at all times, but especially so during the time of your initial live market test. Since it is more likely that initial sales results will force you to substantially revise your marketing program.
It’s important to spend the minimal dollars necessary to determine whether the methods and media you are using in your marketing program will produce the results. You can keep your marketing execution cost to a minimum by carefully managing your printing, advertising, and other marketing expenses during your test.
If you decide to place some ads for your test, the same attention to cost also applies to your company’s print advertising schedule. Don’t run a full-page ad if you can make it half page and do the same job. When running a print advertising test in the startup. The response generated after the second appearance of your ad in any publication should provide enough sales response to tell you whether advertising works in your market.
During your startup’s test phase, never commit your company to a placement schedule of any more than three consecutive monthly issues in any publication. And be brutal about canceling any open ad placement is a sufficient response isn’t generated after your ad’s second appearance in a publication.
Keep marketing cost down during the initial market test by carefully monitoring quantities of all printed materials, such as those used in your direct mailings. The first versions of all of your printed material for sales kits, product packaging, in any other printed sales collateral pieces.
It’s likely you’ll be making substantial changes to all of your printed marketing material due to market response. So keep your quantities to a minimum to avoid having to toss out large numbers of printed marketing materials.
Open for Business: Executing Your Startup’s First Market Test
Your main goal in your initial market test is to execute the test as quickly as possible. So you can generate accurate and reliable sales response from real, live customers in your company’s market. For this task, the advertisements, direct email programs, and other sales collateral you use must be open for business. So interested prospects can contact your company and buy your startups product or service.
All advertising, emailing content, your website, etc., should be set up to let these prospects contact your company. Be sure they can call your company phone number, complete a form, or chat to order or request additional information on your product.
You must set up a system and procedures to accurately record, track and measure inquiries and orders you receive from your test. These critical test results form the basis of the all-important financial and sales of assumptions will be making as you scale up your startup’s marketing program.
Make sure that you have accurately recorded the results of your testing activities. This includes emails, completed forms, telephone calls in response to emails, ad placements, website, and landing pages for prospects requesting more sales information.
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