Just the other day I was cruising some forums. I was doing this in order to find out if my intended market (writers) had a need for this particular product. While the research isn't done, I'm almost positive of one thing. They don't want it.
How did I come to this conclusion? Well, I asked. And really, that's the only way to do it. You should never guess. If there is a demand in your market, you can ask enough people and find out.
Let me give two examples: I developed a consultation concept for musicians. The purpose was to help them maximize their profits, make some money. I had gone deep planning this service. I was literally juggling titles for free reports and e-books to sell (expect more on this in another post). I had even gone so far and crafted a pay scale, both for me and musicians to collect on. And, all in all, it seemed real nice. I figured it would be an appreciated service, especially since most musicians struggle for cash (Airheads wasn't so far off).
I shot myself in the foot.
Here is exactly what happened: after conducting a study to see whether musicians would want the product, what their preferences would be, etc., I was really horrified. Only 2% (literally 2/100) would even pay for consultation. Most of them felt what I consulted for would be unethical in music. I had spent (not invested; this was a total failure) almost two weeks on this project, only to see it fail miserably.
What happened recently was very similar.
I went about creating a System for writers. Only this time, I had gone farther by halfway writing the free report, sales letter, and recorded audio. I come to discover... writers, at least the fiction ones (my target) didn't want to pay for any sort of "miracle potion." See, I made an assumption in this case. Since copywriters, technical writers, and other such career authors generally spend money on improving their writing, I thought fiction authors would be the same. On the contrary, these folks are actually severely agitated and (at times) very sarcastic regarding self-improvement products. This doesn't make 'em bad, but it does make them very unlikely buyers of a writing improvement/motivational kit.
Again, I had to trash all the work from another fruitless venture. I did keep it all, though, as a reminder. If it serves any purpose, it certainly fulfills that one. As Dan Kennedy puts it in his Time Management book - which I highly recommend - that's time I won't get back. So the effort is made to avoid repeating the mistake. I've done it twice before realizing.
OK now; let's get to the point of how my blunder can help you in business success.
First, make sure you invest ample time in understanding your target market. I mean, right after you have a concept, see if there is a demand. But hey, if you created the product while being aware of the demand, more power to you.
For the rest, this is the first, and maybe last, step.
Second, join up with your market. Get involved. Gene Schwartz's rule is: be the best listener. Once you've started listening, you can proceed to step three:
Engage your audience. By engaging them, you'll become "recognized"; join their ranks.
Here is one method I've found to be enormously effective. Drew Eric Whitman (www.adsurgeon.com) endorses this method.
Honestly, it's quick and easy. Hit up a website like surveymonkey.com, sign up for free, draw up a basic survey with a bonus for respondents (preferably something related to your intended product), and send that sucker out. And the best way to do this is forums. Head over to Google, type in a few words specific to your market (i.e. musicians forum, writing forums, dog groomer forums, clown-in-the-hat marketing forum, whatever) and dig into them. Post the link to your survey with as friendly and non-spam like post as possible.
Don't stop there.
Make sure to browse the websites, get a look at the kind of questions people are asking. And even better, get a look at the responses. After you've done this enough times, you, too, can even respond to such questions. At this point, you're engaging the market.
Until next time!'
Over and Out,