The key to building a successful product is having an idea that will solve your users’ problems. And it might sound simple if you already have a community around your brand, where feedback is easier to collect. But what are the best ways to validate a product before launching a business?
According to CB Insights, 35% of startups fail due to a lack of market need. This is why product validation becomes so important. Product validation is the process of checking whether your product has the potential to succeed or fail on the market. It’s a way to determine if your product idea is worth pursuing and if it solves users’ problems appropriately.
In this article, we’ll explore the five most useful product validation techniques you can use in 2022.
What Is Product Validation and Why Is It Essential?
“Build a product people want” is a common piece of advice among entrepreneurs. That’s what product validation seeks to prove: that there are potential customers out there who are willing to pay for your product.
Imagine that you have a great startup idea and want to turn it into a product. For it to become successful, you’ll need to have a user base willing to consume it. That’s why it’s essential to validate it before you launch it.
The product validation process consists of testing your product’s idea with potential users. And getting their most sincere feedback on its features, pros, and cons. This way, you’ll make sure your project doesn’t end like that 35%!
While there are many product validation methods, the most popular ones right now are the waterfall approach and the lean method. The first one consists of building the product and validating the idea at the final release. And while many companies still use this method, it’s also the riskiest one, as you might end up with a product that solves no problem and has no audience.
The second one has the objective of maximizing your chances of a successful product launch by testing the idea before building the product. It’s safe to say that communities are a great place to do so.
Before building your product, you can join product management communities. In these online spaces, you’ll have the chance to ask fellow members for feedback and meet like-minded people who’re building similar products. Or even find potential co-founders and investors!
These are some of the best communities for product managers and entrepreneurs 👇
Indie Worldwide is a community with over 2,000 members that connect startup founders from all over the world. When joining this community, you’ll have access to feedback, ideas, and industry trends. You will also have the chance to engage in fruitful conversations and discussions with like-minded people from the tech industry, find new clients, and get advice from experts. The Premium Club costs $120 per year.
Product Buds is a Slack-based global community for product managers. It already has more than 8,000 members, nucleating aspiring and early career product people who’re seeking to sprout, grow, and flourish in the industry.
Bubble is a no-code platform that also has a forum for startup founders and entrepreneurs that want to engage in conversations, receive feedback, and get ideas related to developing no-code web apps.
Mind the Product is a community with more than 150,000 members. It was built for product managers from all around the world who want to connect with like-minded professionals, assist to with product-related events. And access training workshops to learn more about product-related topics. The Premium Plan costs around $250 per year.
The Product Folks is a volunteer-driven community of project managers and enthusiasts seeking to make an impact. Once a member, you can connect with like-minded peers through workshops, webinars, and plenty of events where you can also learn from industry leaders and experts.
🙌 You’ll find more information about this second product validation process throughout this article.
5 Market Validation Methods
1. User Interviews
A great example of a market validation technique is having interviews with users, and understanding their needs, experiences, habits, problems, and motivations. With this technique, you’ll get in-depth user insights and qualitative data. Interviews can be made in-person and online, in spaces such as niche communities and forums.
Surveys are useful for gathering quantitative data about consumers’ preferences and behaviors related to your product. It’s critical that you ask relevant questions in surveys so that you can get targeted data from your target audience.
3. Focus Groups
A focus group consists of at least 8 people (and no more than 12) who come together to discuss a specific topic related to your business idea. The goal of the focus group is to get feedback on the solution itself – whether it fits the market need or not, how well designed is it, etc.
4. A/B Testing
Also called split testing, A/B testing takes an existing version of your product and tests it against a slightly different version of it. For example, if you have a web page that features a form, you could test to see if changing the color of the button would lead to more conversions. A/B testing is particularly useful when designing new landing pages.
5. Investigate Why Other Startups Fail
There’s a website that nucleates more than 120 startups that failed, and it explains why. It’s called the Startup Cemetery. Therefore, if you’re looking to know more about how to make your project a successful one, you should know what you don’t have to do first.
According to Failory, marketing mistakes are the biggest problem for startups, causing around 56% of them to fail. As we mentioned previously, that means that there’s a lack of product-market fit.
How to Validate Your Product Step by Step
Step 1: Customer Validation
During this first step, your goal should be to define who your target audience will be, what solution you’ll be offering your customer, and identify early adopters.
#1 Who’s your potential customer? 🤔 The first step before turning your idea into a product is defining who your target audience will be. That requires you to ask yourself some questions. Who do you want to reach? What does your potential consumer look like? What are their interests? Where are they? Online or offline?
To provide a great product to users, it’s essential to know who you are targeting. This includes knowing where they are present, what their interests are, and how they communicate. And most importantly, deciphering what their pain or need is.
#2 What solution can I offer my consumer? 💡 Understanding what solution you can provide to your potential consumer is key during the product validation process. Also, finding its competitive advantage. By understanding how you can solve your target audience’s pain, you can define what kind of product you’ll want to offer.
There are great online spaces you can use to detect problems and build solutions. While the most popular ones are Twitter and Facebook, the real gold is niche communities.
As an entrepreneur, product manager, or startup founder, you can be part of these spaces. There, you’ll have the opportunity to interact and build a relationship with those who might become your first customers. Also, when becoming part of communities, you’ll be able to:
✨ Find ideas for innovative features.
☝️ Identify what changes need to be made to the product.
💸 Save money and time on surveys.
It’s also your chance to detect the potential users’ pain points and ensure your product is solving a real problem!
#3 Find early adopters ✨ These are the users that are conscious of their pain points and are actively seeking a solution. Therefore, you can contact them, ask them what they think of the product, and give you detailed and sincere feedback.
To achieve these goals, you’ll have to use some methods. These include doing some research on their social media accounts (what they share, what they comment on, and what they recommend), and finding ways to connect and engage with them.
To build an engaged audience before launching your product, you’ll have to listen to your potential customers. To achieve this, you’ll have to facilitate channels for them to express their thoughts and participate in product building behind the scenes.
For example, tech communities running on Slack and Discord are full of channels where developers are invited to participate in product building. They are part of the audience, but also collaborate to improve the product’s features they love most.
Step 2: Market Research
During this step, you’ll have to focus on analyzing your competitors, choose which channels or platforms you’ll use to reach your target customers, and do keyword research.
Analyzing your competition is one of the first steps during market research. To do so, you can join online communities or forums around products that bring a solution to a similar or the same problem you’re trying to solve.
This will give you access to first-hand information about the experiences of your competitors’ users with their products. In turn, this information will help you think about how your product can solve the problems that your competitors can’t.
When choosing the channels you’ll want to be present in, focus on those where your product will stand out and reach the right people. Also, you can check out which platforms your competitors are using to reach their audiences.
During market research, you’ll also have to do your keyword research. It will be essential during the building of your SEO strategy.
A good SEO strategy will make it easier for your potential customers to find your product.
Step 3: Test the Product Idea With Potential Users
A great practice to test the product idea with potential users is to launch a minimum viable product (MVP). This technique will help you discover if you’re on the right path.
Imagine that you spend months improving a feature to discover that your users don’t want it?
Product Validation Examples
A successful product validation example through a minimum viable experience validation technique is Airbnb, founded by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia.
It all started due to a problem the two of them faced: they needed to rent a place in San Francisco, but couldn’t afford to pay a super high price. So they decided to take pictures of the apartment they were sharing and rent out a room. Later on, they posted the photos online, and soon after they had some people that were interested in renting it. And the positive response from these three interested parties showed them that an application like Airbnb could work.
In 2010, Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp used the MVP validation technique to validate their product. To do so, they connected iPhone users with the cheapest and fastest to get vehicle services in the city of San Francisco. Later on, tried the app in larger cities, such as New York, Berlin, and Paris.
These are some of the product validation techniques that can help you and your product succeed in whichever industry you’re part of. You can also check the best product management communities to find inspiration from the experts.