Executing market tests during your company’s product development stage, and before and during its startup’s new product launch, gives you the opportunity to test your sales copy and marketing methods before you commit big dollars to a full-scale marketing program.
The response from a market test almost always improves the quality and effectiveness of the early stages of your marketing plan. Sometimes leads to radical changes in the direction of the entire marketing plan. It’s critical to get it right for a successful launch and long-term success.
For example, the shift in your marketing strategy from display advertising to more targeted direct email programs, a change in your marketing focus to reach new or different prospects, or more radical changes, such as abandoning one market for another. Or could be due to changing your products original distribution strategy for an entirely new distribution method.
Market Testing and Market Research
The Value of Testing
Market testing is the marketing managers and most important function during the new ventures early development stages. If well-executed, a market task and saving new venture thousands of dollars of expenses that otherwise would have been squandered on poorly conceived ad placements, landing pages, emailing, or other unsuccessful new p
The feedback received from market task and dramatically change of startups marketing direction, its product pricing, or its sales and distribution channel. These critical changes in marketing tactics and strategies can mean the difference between success or failure in startups first critical year of operation.
It’s easy to gather market feedback if you have a lot of money to spend. If you don’t test, you can buy into the illusion of branding, and spend your company’s entire marketing budget on press releases and online advertising, rolling a product out first without testing, and failing. Just like the dot-coms did during the internet bubble. Or, you can do it the smart way. Spend a little money up front to run a small-market test and learn a lot, and then incorporate the lessons into your next, larger marketing effort.
Failing to Test Leads to Failure
The sad fact is that most startups don’t market test their products. Instead, they rely on an outside ad agency to develop creative ideas to promote the product just before the product launch, usually involving the placement of many full-page ads in trade and business publications, Facebook Ads or email campaigns too many splashy direct email templates to a few, thoughtlessly chosen rented email list.
When the ads in the emails don’t pull, the startup fires agency. Then hires a new man in the white horse, and repeat the process until you run out of money, or pulls back to take a more pragmatic approach.
Occasionally startup will succeed despite a poor marketing program, if it gets lucky, is acquired, clenches a big distribution deal with a large corporation outside its normal marketing channels. They can truly be said that marketing budgets for most startups are often simply capital transfers from venture investors into the pockets of ad agencies, PR firms, and trade publications.
For companies who don’t have bottomless marketing budgets—and this includes every startup. The market testing options described in this section can be executed at a low cost, do not require extensive or specialized knowledge of market research techniques. These testing methods also work for new products or market launches in established companies.
They don’t require the use of focus groups or, no special test methodologies, or the other academic trappings of the marketing research field that distracts a company’s marketing team from salesmanship required to sell its product.
Test Your Copy, Your Sales Message, in Deliverables
In market researcher speak, these testing and techniques are qualitative rather than quantitative, relying mostly upon anecdotal results. They require you, not an outside market-research consultant, to be involved in their execution, and to form impressions based on the responses you receive.
Most of the time, results gathered from these techniques or require you to take corrective action to change and adapt your marketing program to meet the needs of your prospects and the realities of your marketplace.
These techniques have been proven in actual use, and can help you answer the most critical marketing questions of your startup or new product launch:
- Are your product sales copy benefits persuasive to the prospects in your market, and will your product’s story be well received by the most likely prospects in your target marketing?
- Are the other aspects of your product and its marketing messages, such as its price, product features, benefits, and applications, compelling to the prospects in your market?
- Are the marketing media you are using—display advertising, social media, direct email campaigns, direct sales, trade shows, or sales development reps—the best, least expensive ways for you to sell to these prospects?
- What is the approximate cost-per-sale for the advertising media year you are using?
- Have other prospects, markets, applications, or targets of opportunity for your company’s product been uncovered by your test?
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Two Stages to the Testing Process for Startups and New Product Launches
The market test process has two stages:
- The initial, informal testing stage, where the sales copy points, positioning, and other key aspects of your marketing program and its sales message are broadly established
- The formal testing stage implemented as a separate, limited market test prior to the launch of your company’s product or service. This stage can also be implemented as a first stage in your company’s product launch, depending on your startup’s timing requirements, budget constraints, and your confidence in your company’s marketing program. These formal tasks can be repeated as often as necessary, with the more successful aspect of each task being incorporated into the expanded marketing launch for startups, and or in a subsequent market test.
The First Principles: There is No Such Thing as Failure, Only Failure to Test
Here are two important points to keep in mind:
- Mixed test results happen most of the time: The final response to
mostmarket task is usually neither a runaway success nor a dismal failure. Usually, some aspects of a test better than others. If you can listen to what potential customers in your market tell you about your tasks, you can ramp up the parts of market tests that were successful. Which will help you open new sales opportunities and your startup, well you continue to develop and refine your marketing program?
- Testing is a continuous process: In a start-up or new product launch, there is no such thing as failure, only failure to test. An exploitative sales opportunity exists and can be found, and many market tests, but the sales rewards from this opportunity can only be realized by testing again, on a larger scale. And, even at these aspects of your testing program start to show promising sales results, and your marketing program begins to generate a good response. You must always test new ways of selling your startup’s product or service on a continuous basis. You must continue your market testing until you are confident you have found the marketing tools, methods, and media that you believe can be scaled up to build sales of your startup’s product or service.
New product launches for startups can be highly successful or flop.
The first marketing testing step for a start-up, the informal market test, put your startup sales copy–the story of your product or service–in front of a handful of actual prospects. The kinds of people you are will eventually be persuaded to buy your company’s product.
The informal market test relies upon your verbal presentation and personal questioning of the individuals who receive your marketing deliverables. You will draw out the constructive comments in response is necessary to put your startup’s sales message into sharper focus.
Informal testing can also be used in an established company launching new products in a new market, in advance of actual product launch.
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