Each product is different, so the testing formula for each product will change as well. Before you even start the testing approach, make sure you know if your idea is any good. After that, you are all set to test it. Here’s how I test different types of products:

  • Consumer Product or Service: consumer products are the goods and services that individual people buy. When testing this service, think of how you would purchase it. Is it done in person, via a website, in a store, etc. Try to mimic that sales approach on a very small scale do you can gather enough evidence to see if a product is good. For example, when Pixar made their first film was it a feature length production? No. they made a cute 15 min short that won awards and generated buzz. Do that with your product. Open a website that shows your product and sell it. Send a sample size of consumers to that website using google ad words or some other pay-per-click platform. If no one buys, then make tweaks. If still no one is buying, then the idea may not have relevance. If people buy, then find out if you’d be profitable if you scaled up. Alternatively, you can use Kickstarter to do the same test.
  • Commercial Product or Service: I’m less experienced with this method, so I’ll give you the basic guidance I’ve learned while at Emory’s Goizueta business school. Hire Gartner or some other survey firm to help examine the target market. Develop marketing material to pitch the service to that market. Start the direct marketing / sales engine and make phone calls, do meetings. You’ll either be a success or not in relatively short time. If successful, get those early clients to write a letter of commitment / agreement to buy your product or service when it’s available. You can use that letter to tell investors and banks that you are legit and how the ability to make money.

It’s important to get to the testing phase as quickly as possible. Most ideas die from lack of direction before they are ever tested. If you get to this stage and the tests say and idea isn’t good, then you at least can focus your full attention on the next idea. It’s a numbers game. The more your test the more likely you’ll be successful.