Free Validation Strategies
Survey your potential customers: this is the absolute easiest and probably most effective way to validate your concept. Get out there and ask your target market what they think of your idea, and if they would be willing to pay for it. Drill down further and ask them how you could make it better, what their pain points are, and exactly how much they would pay. You can also create surveys and distribute them through email, social media, etc. or just get on the phone and make some calls. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot.
Create a simple landing page to measure interest: websites like LaunchRock.co allow you to create beautifully simple landing pages where you can direct potential customers. Your landing page should (briefly) describe your concept and allow people to enter their email to keep updated on your project. You can even take it a step further and create a simple intro video to generate even more interest. Startups use landing pages to grow massive user bases long before their business is even launched, so by the time you do launch, you’ll have thousands of customers waiting for you to scoop up quickly and easily.
Use Craigslist Ads: put up some simple Craigslist ads and see how many people contact you. Super easy way to measure interested in your service, but it works best on a local scale.
Work for free: if you’re trying to validate a service business, offer your service to potential clients for free (for a limited time). You will immediately see what needs to be changed, and your client should be more than willing to give you valuable feedback on your work. If you have a product, give the prototype out for free in exchange for feedback.
Paid Validation Strategies
Create a Google Adwords campaign: if you’ve got some money to throw around, Adwords can be a powerful validation tool. Not only will you learn about the keywords that will work best for promoting your business, you’ll also learn about your competitors. And of course, you’ll get to measure interest by looking at your CTR (click through rate). Even better, link the ads straight to your LaunchRock page to collect emails.
Facebook Ads: you can use the same tactic using social ads. Facebook ads are unique in the fact that they allow you to target potential customers by interest rather than keyword search. This also allows you to see the size of your potential market on Facebook through demographics, location, and interests, which is awesome.
Lastly, if you’re pretty far along with your product or service, sell it. Find customers who are interested, sell your product or service at a discounted rate and see what happens.
Whatever you do, the BIGGEST mistake you can make is putting a shit ton of hours into your idea before validating it. If you have specific questions about validation feel free to ask, I’m happy to give you some free advice.