Developing a digital product and making a profit is a dream for many first time entrepreneurs. Taking your idea and working with developers is an exciting step towards your ultimate goal but before you get there it is important to validate many parts of the process. These crucial first steps are more accurately described as finding ‘product/market fit.’
Product/market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies strong market demand. Being able to accurately prove that your product can be successful and that it has features that make it unique is crucial. If you don’t identify product/market fit early on, you could run the risk of failing on the market and losing money.
If you missed our first article, you will want to check it out to get a better understanding of defining product/market fit. We also discuss finding the problem your product seeks to solve and validating that the problem is one experienced by real-life people.
The purpose of today’s article is to take you through the process of finding a solution for the problem you are experiencing, through the lens of product/market fit. Your solution is what will be sold and what will bring you a profit. Getting your solution right from the beginning and validating it with real customers is very important.
8 Steps to Validate Your Solution
Once you know what problem you are going to solve, it is time to find a solution that will help the people who experience it.
Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem you have identified. Come up with several possibilities and work through them, developing features and guidelines along the way. Single out the solution with the most potential and then follow these 7 steps to validate your idea and discover the best version.
Step 1: Find a target group of people who are experiencing the problem your solution will solve.
This could be an in-person group that you meet with at work or a group of friends you meet with over coffee. If you can’t meet in person, create a private Facebook group where you can add members from all over the world. This group will be around throughout the development of your solution and will help with product testing. Rely on them for crucial feedback and honest advice.
Step 2: Present wireframes to your target group.
Roughly sketch out your solution on a piece of paper and take it to your target group. At this stage don’t worry about creating full-blown renderings before you have gathered feedback. What you need is a basic outline of the layout and user interface. Here is an easy guide to creating wireframes.
Step 3: Ask questions to understand.
Ask for initial thoughts and explain the different features that the solution will offer. Questions like “would this product be helpful for you?” can help spark an important discussion into what is actually needed in the solution. The more questions you ask, the more you will understand about the solution and the target customer.
Step 4: Repeat
Repeat steps 2 and 3 before you move on. You want to make sure that the wireframes are going in the correct direction before you proceed. Rework them, present them to your target group, and ask questions. As you continue, the steps will get more expensive so if you can save money during any phase you will want to take advantage of that.
Step 5: Take feedback and rework your solution.
Once you have the feedback from your target group, create mockups. A mockup is similar to a wireframe but includes more visual aspects of what the product is actually going to look like. Include more details based on your feedback, but still, keep the time you invest in this stage relatively small as things will change.
Step 6: Present mockups to your target group.
Once again go back to your target group and present the designs to them. They will have a better understanding of what the solution will look like at this stage.
Step 7: Ask questions to understand.
If you feel like we are repeating ourselves, we are! Asking questions and listening is very important throughout this entire process. You have a group of target customers who are invested in your solution and in your journey. Take advantage of that to craft your solution into a product that is wanted and needed by people experiencing the problem.
Step 8: Repeat until finished.
Continue to tweak your design until it satisfies your target group. Try other forms to gather feedback like graphic designs and clickable prototypes. When you work with a developer, they will provide these designs throughout the process.
Prove Product/Market Fit by Identifying Your Competition
After you have decided on the problem you will solve, and crafted a solution that fits the needs of your target group, it is time to study your competition in-depth. If a product similar to yours is already on the market it is better to know that before you begin full-blown development. While you are still in the design phase you can learn from your competition what works and what doesn’t.
Visit the marketplaces for software and apps, and view similar products to yours. Read the reviews and see what real customers are saying. Note the features they offer and how they differentiate from your product. Once you have studied your competition you will have a better understanding of the impact your product will have.
If you have reviewed your competition and realized that it is very similar to one already on the market, revisit your designs. Trying to be the front runner over a product that already has a high number of users is hard. How can your product differ so that you can both have a valued place on the market?
Develop an MVP
When you are ready to begin the development of your solution, the first version you will create is an MVP. This stands for ‘minimum viable product’ and is a full-scale test of a product, at its most basic form. MVP’s allow you to test your product without spending large amounts of money and time on development. You are able to see if a product will be successful or if you need to reevaluate the features and purpose of the product.
Validate Product/Market Fit With Your Completed Design
Now that you have tested your solution among a targeted group, studied your competition, and built an MVP, it is time to take the solution to a larger group of customers. Finding product/market fit online is easy if you are willing to put the work into it. Here are a few ways we recommend to get started.
Social Media: You can easily accomplish testing for product/market fit by creating profiles and groups on various social media platforms. Post about your product and ask for honest feedback.
Landing Page: You can also create a landing page for your product and begin to collect email addresses. Run ads to the landing page and when you have accumulated a moderate amount of email addresses you can begin to send out surveys to gather feedback.
Pre-Sale: Run a pre-sale through your landing page to see if customers are interested. This could be several months before your product release and could include incentives for those who pre-order. If only a small amount of people are interested you need to reexamine your marketing strategy.
Get Started Finding Your Product/Market Fit!
Whether you already have an idea or you are starting from scratch, finding product/market fit is something you can start doing today! Follow our articles and view the other resources on our website as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. The more you can accomplish at the beginning, the better your product will succeed on the market!