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Will Your Great Idea Sell?

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Author: Sylvie Minson

No matter how great your idea is, if the market isn't ready for it, or if it's already saturated, you just won't profit from it, at least not at the moment. So how do you know if it's just another great idea or a money tree ripe for the picking? How about some basic market research.

There are a few ways you can go about this. You can hold a focus group, you get a bunch of people together, explain the concept to them, with mock ups if you can, and see what they think. Let them talk openly about it, often amongst themselves without your input, and then have them fill out a questionnaire.

This is a very expensive technique, but often produces good results, as you get more than just opinions, you also get ideas on how you can improve your original concept and so on.

You could invest in a direct mail campaign, and offer something to the recipients in return for answering your survey. This too can be very costly, up to $20 per person, and the end result isn't nearly as good as what you get with a focus group. As few as 1 in 100 people will return your mailing, maybe more depending on the reward.

You could use the telephone and conduct your survey that way. Keep in mind, however, that people will initially assume you're a telemarketer trying to sell them something.

You could survey people coming in and going out of your local mall. You'd have to set this up with the mall management first, but it's not an uncommon practice. In fact, where I live there are always people at the mall wanting you to take surveys.

You could also do some research online, post your question(s) in a forum - one that allows such things, be sure to read their TOS and don't overload the board. One question at a time works best, with follow ups if and when you get a response to your initial query.

I've seen this done often, generally by programmers inquiring about the usefulness of a new program idea they've come up with. They generally ask, could you use a program like tihs, adn what kind of features would the program ideally have. The response quality is usually very good.

When it comes to your survey give a brief description of your idea, then ask:

Could you use this product/service?

If yes, how often do you think you'd use this product/service.

Do you know anyone else who could use this product/service.

Does $X seem like a reasonable price for this product/service - or alternatively - What do you think might be a reasonable price for this product/service?

Given what we've told you about the product/service, what improvements could be made to make it more useful to you?

That's it, just a set of very direct questions for a basic market research study. Make sure the person being surveyed feels comfortable giving honest answers, and opinions, and don't waste their time.

You can also check and see what the competition is in the market for similar offerings - assuming there are any similar offerings. You can look at how they've positioned their product, and position yours differently, what demographic they're targeting and so on. Oftentimes you can also see just how profitable a product really is, if you look deep enough.

Competition in the market, however, doesn't guarantee your product or service will make tons of money - on the other hand it also doesn't guarantee it won't. A lot of that has to do with how you market it.

Getting this kind of information from average people, getting their opinions, and their input on what they'd like to see in such an offering, is probably one of the best things you can do to ensure your success.

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