A client of mine who was about to spend a huge amount of money on marketing a new product he just launched. This product was the result of pivoting to a new model as a result of COVID.
I asked him if he did some viability research. He said, “Yes, the keyword is a hot trend right now.” But that's a common mistake many professionals and marketers make. Keyword research is where most people stop.
Since the topic or problem is highly searched for or even trending, they think it's viable. Sure, it could indicate there's a problem that a market wants to solve.
But it fails on two other important levels.
- Are they willing to pay for it? And,
- How will you get them to pay for it?
Viability research is like having “Marketing ESP.” I like calling it ESP because it can also be an acronym that stands for “Effectively Solvable Problem,” “Eagerly Sought Product,” and “Economically Suitable Price.”
Yes, I love acronyms. But those three acronyms are great indicators:
- Is there a problem that's solvable with your product?
- Would people want to solve it with your product?
- What would be the price they're willing to pay for it?
- And above all, would the price be sufficient to make a profit?
But I also like the term “ESP” because It's also like having a sixth sense.
By conducting proper viability research, you ensure your product and marketing approaches are going to be successful from the start. It helps you to discover who is looking for what you're selling, are they willing to pay the price you are asking, and will they be responsive to your marketing.
One way to do this is an approach Jonathan Stark and Rochelle Molton discussed on their podcast, The Business of Authority.
They called it “testing with a tweet.” You tweet your idea to your list (or followers) and let them tell you if it's viable. If they don't respond well (or better, if they don't respond at all), that's great. You've just saved yourself a ton of money and misery.
The trick is to get feedback about your product idea, not validation, encouragement, or half-assed responses that are only meant to avoid hurt feelings. Think about it: how many delusional American Idol contestants have gotten the “Cowell scowl” simply because their friends and families told them they were talented?
But I digress.
Twitter is one tool, but I often conduct viability research with other tools like:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends tracker
- Google's Find My Audience
- UberSuggest Content Suggestions
- Facebook Audience Insights
- Questions on Quora.com
- Discussion forum searches*
*The last resource is not a website but a nifty Chrome extension I use. It adds an extra tab called “Discussions” on Google search result pages. It searches forums and message boards, which is a great way to find out how people talk about their problem(s).
Here's the thing.
Don't assume that, since the keyword is highly searched, there's a viable market out there. It could be something are simply curious about but not interested in it. Or they may have a problem and searching for how to solve it, but they don't care about paying for it.
For every successful product on Walmart's shelves or on Amazon.com's website, there is an exponentially larger number of products that either failed or were discontinued because it wasn't worth it for the business to continue selling it.
The Internet is your crystal ball. Use it.