Five Ways to Effectively Test Your Product Concept on a Lean Budget

Image Source: Dreamstine

Have you been thinking about an idea for a new product? Have you tested it to see how it will be received in the marketplace?

In this article I’ll help demystify concept testing and show you how even on the leanest of budgets, you can rest assured that you know what you need to know to take your concept to the next stage.


#1: Familiarize Yourself with Concept Testing

Kotler and Armstrong suggest that concept testing is one of eight major stages in product development that follows the idea generation and screening phases. And involves “drafting the product idea in verbal or pictorial form, further explaining the nature of the concept, with initial ideas of impediments, materials and technologies. New product concepts are tested with a group of target consumers to find out if the concepts have strong consumer appeal. “

Concept testing may be one of the most important steps you’ll take a long the way and to do it effectively you should have some specific goals in mind.

#2: Create Obtainable Concept Testing Goals
Whether your business is large or small, the goals of concept testing are the same–to conduct the test among the widest segment of the appropriate population. Fortunately these days social networks provide an easy and cost-effective solution for targeting and segmenting potential audiences.

Jakub Hrabovsky recommends looking at demographics that focus on:

  • Characteristics of the customer; age, gender, income bracket, education, job, and cultural background, lifestyle, such as social class, lifestyle, personality, opinions, and attitudes.
  • Specific customer behaviors e.g. online shoppers, shopping center customers, brand preference and prior purchases.
  • Geographical location such as continent, country, state, province, city or rural that the customer group resides.

#3: Take the Necessary Steps to Prepare for a Concept Test
An integral part of the preparation stage is being able to identify characteristics of your ideal customers and solutions they might be looking for.
Karl Stark and Bill Stewart offer a list of insightful questions that will be helpful to consider before moving forward:

  • Who are the ideal customers?
  • Does the product already exist?
  • What is the customer doing currently?
  • What is the all-in cost of the current solution?
  • What asset or capability are you bringing that is unique?
  • How will competitors react to a successful launch?
  • What is the business model?
  • How can you test and learn before building the entire structure?

If you’re ready, carve out some time and write down your responses to these questions and you’ll be well on your way to taking the next step, designing a survey.

#4: Consider 10 Factors for Survey Design

The design phase is very important. After all, once you have gained your participants’ attention you’ll want to make sure that you’ve thought through a number of factors so that people will stick-in and complete the survey.
(Sources: Qualtrics, Lightspeed Research)

  • Describe the concept in a clear and understandable way and include product benefits.
  • Familiarize yourself with the variety of question types and determine the best formats to use e.g. multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, open ended, rank order, and questions in matrix tables.
  • Identify distribution channels for ways to best engage participants: email website, blog or QR codes; mobile compatible surveys; social network integrated—Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In.
  • Estimate how much time it will take for participants to complete the survey. The number of questions may vary from one survey to the next.
  • Keep online questionnaire length under 20 minutes.
  • Evaluate each questionnaire to eliminate “nice to know” questions (i.e. questions that don’t directly relate to the objectives and success criteria).
  • Keep the number of questions asked prior to concept exposure to a minimum.
  • Think about questions from the respondent’s point of view – if you were a respondent would you want to answer? For example: Use technology to make questionnaires more respondent friendly (e.g. to skip questions that don’t apply).
  • Watch out for repetitious questions. You may think you are asking different questions (e.g. product is healthy and product is good for you), but respondents often don’t see it that way.
  • Consider using split questionnaire designs to break a long questionnaire into manageable tasks. The second questionnaire is fielded to those returning the first questionnaire. This makes the task a little less daunting for respondents while still gathering all the information from the same respondents.

#5: Design Your Concept Test Without Reinventing the Wheel

It’s always good to know that there are some ready-to-use online resources. We came across several templates that will help to get you started with concept testing without having to reinvent the wheel.

Here are four that will help you get started in no time:

Brief Product Concept Test from Question Pro
image 3
Product and Concept Testing Survey from Survey Onics
image 2

Concept Evaluation and Pricing from QuestionPro
Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.32.03 PM

Sample Concept Test Survey from Qualtrics
image4

The importance and thoroughness of concept testing cannot be emphasized enough. Your ideas deserve the best shot in the marketplace; take the necessary time and steps to make your business a success.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Day a New Discovery

No, I will not fix your computer.

Available from Think Geek. thinkgeek.com

A few years back I saw a man walking in NYC wearing a t-shirt with the saying, “No, I won’t fix your computer.” I was amused by the shirt and while I haven’t been the go-to person for fixing people’s computers, I’ve been known to tinker with a few people’s iPhones, iPads and pesky problems that can arise sometimes with apps and other what-have-you’s.

The truth of the matter is that I like doing these things. I like knowing that I can trust myself and that in turn, others have confidence in me. I instinctively know the terrain above and beyond my skills-set. After all, that’s what the Apple Genius Bar is for (wizards, every one of them).

But some times we don’t learn new things until we have to. After a question is posed to us we turn to the Internet like a sleuth trying to find any clues we can. And, every now and again, we come upon the solution to the problem that is deeply gratifying for the person who has come to us and in turn, makes us feel like we’ve truly been of help.

Recently my friend’s partner passed-away and she asked if I could help her save the voicemail greeting from her iPhone along with messages that her partner had left for her on her phone. I hadn’t any experience with this issue before and wanted very much to be able to help. But I also knew the stakes were quite high and that the last thing I wanted to do was to mess-up. After some contemplation I thought about offering to drive my friend to the Apple Store and be her buddy at the Genius Bar. But as often happens when the challenges are ramped-up a little, I started searching the Internet, long tail searches, keyword searches. Anything, everything.

First I came upon the application, DiskAid that offers iPhone phone transfers. And while it does a great job transferring all kinds of files it wasn’t until emailing support that I learned that voicemail messages aren’t stored on the phone, they’re stored on the phone carrier’s server.

At this point I contacted Verizon who had to transfer my call around to several departments and finally a helpful young woman rep told me, “Yes, I can help you! I actually haven’t had one of these requests in a long time.” The rep went on to tell me that Verizon outsources the support to a company, CBW Productions and provided the number.

You can either make the request via telephone customer service, 1-800-770-8046 or from their website. They will save greetings plus messages from a phone and send them to you either on cd, mp3 or usb. The price varies according to number of messages. All you need to provide is the phone number and password to enter the account. They would then take care of the recording.

And for people who are grieving it’s especially nice to know that you can do this from your computer, and not speak to anyone to make the request.

Posted in Content and Ideas, iPhone/iPad apps | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Creating Effective Social Media Campaigns

I have a new article published today on Social Media Examiner, How to Design a Social Media Campaign. For this post, I’ve identified core elements of a campaign. And as I often do when I want to point to a business who exemplifies good social media efforts, I turned to Whole Foods Market.

I followed Whole Foods links, tweets. Watched Whole Foods videos. And quickly became intrigued by a campaign that they executed to help announce the opening of their new Whole Foods Market POPLAR store in Memphis. Able to access, Emily Lux, the social media manager, I reached out and interviewed her about how they approached the campaign in the planning stages to implementation.

There are many teachable moments from the Poplar store campaign. Check it out on SME!

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

 

social media campaign

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Telling a Story with Storify

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 4.16.17 PM

[View the story "A Little About My Journey Getting Started with Digital Photogaphy" on Storify]

Posted in art, Social Media | Leave a comment

Covering All Bases With Mobile Social Marketing Tactics

The mobile social landscape is BIG!

If mobile hasn’t hit your radar yet there’s no time better than the present to make your social engagement mobile-friendly. In my new article on Social Media Examiner, I take a look at a number of actionable steps you can take today to better serve your social media followers on their mobile devices.

And, if your business has already branched out on mobile social then you know. And, perhaps it’s even time to reassess your mobile strategy.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

Image

–Debbie Hemley, @dhemley Instagram, TwitterFacebookPinterest,  LinkedIn, and Google +.

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Status Update is the Message

I’m often reminded of Marshall McLuhan‘s phrase, the medium is the message, that implies how a “medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.”

While McLuhan’s phrase was coined decades before the Internet and the proliferation of social media, we can see how each and every message made on a social networking platform works in conjunction with the medium. The medium drives in many cases how many characters you can use, the size of images, use of hashtags or not, and more.

In other words, we’ve adapted to communicating our messages within the parameters of mediums that weren’t available until a short time ago.  What strikes me are the ways in which we are challenged to take advantage of the medium to strategically approach our messages.

In my new 26 tips article on Social Media Examiner, I take a look at the creative ways companies use  Facebook status updates for brand messages.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

–Debbie Hemley, @dhemley Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, PinterestLinkedIn, and Google +.

dhemley facebook tips

Posted in Social Media | Leave a comment

Navigating the App Workplace: A Guide for Social Media Marketers

The 26 tips series that I write on Social Media Examiner present a framework for looking at social media tactics.  In this new article, 26 Ways Social Media Marketers Use Smartphone Apps, the guiding principle was the ways in which our workplace and tools have changed.

No longer chained to a desk to conduct business and with a pocket-size device with apps that provide every function imaginable, we can be anywhere, anytime of the day. Of course, by this point in 2014, this is not a major revelation to most of us. But what is more revealing are the variety of apps that we interact with from smartphone to desktop and back and forth, again and again, in the course of our workday.

I invite you to read the post on SME, take time to comment, and share the post with colleagues and friends who may be interested. By sharing our finds with one another our mobile workday will become that much more enriched.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

–Debbie Hemley, @dhemley Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, PinterestLinkedIn, and Google +.

26 facebook

Posted in iPhone/iPad apps, Social Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Content Worth Tweeting About

twitterI’m always looking for intriguing content to share on Twitter.
The past couple of weeks these posts stood out for me:

Cool Story
How a Small Family Business Pulled Off One of the Greatest Successes in YouTube History http://po.st/ORJpkr

Not business-related but fun!
Mirabeau Wine // How to open a bottle of wine – without a corkscrew: http://youtu.be/u1wROm-OF9w

Nice Round-up of Tools
13 Browser-Based Tools For Writers http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/13-browser-based-tools-writers/

Few People Who I’d Really Like to See This One :)
How to Survive the Next Wave of Technology Extinction http://nyti.ms/1eV0hw8

Great Infographic
The Secrets of a Killer Blog Post http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing-2/infographic-the-secrets-of-a-killer-blog-post/

Truly a Loyal Audience
Engagement: How to Create a Loyal Audience That Loves You http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/engagement-create-loyal-audience/

Clever
50 More Business Jargon Fixes for Bloggers and Content Writers – Jeffbullas’s Blog http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/02/06/50-business-jargon-fixes-bloggers-business-content-writers/

Love These Types of Statistics
New Record For 2014: Hashtags Mentioned In 57% Of Super Bowl Ads http://marketingland.com/hashtags-super-bowl-2014-72658

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Noteworthy Social Media Marketing Articles | Circa 2013

When asked to contribute a favorite social media blog post to Social Media Examiner’s end of the year article, 31 Must-Read Social Media Marketing Articles, I reviewed the posts that truly stood out for me in 2013.

Mike Alton’s post, Tell Your Business Story, One Blog at a Time that I had read earlier in the year still resonated loud and clear. I was delighted to have an opportunity to share the post with SME readers who may not have come across the article otherwise.

There are 30 other articles listed in SME’s article that are representative of the topics and kind of material that helps us all stay-on-top of the rapidly evolving world of social media marketing.

Social media exploded further this year and its footing is even more secure than it was a year ago at this time. What’s in store for 2014?

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Inspiring Blog Posts

Posted in Social Media | 3 Comments

Pinterest for business. Sounds crazy, no?

Pinterest for business. Sounds crazy, no? But in our world of social media, every one of us is a pinner trying to gain the attention of our audience. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we do try if it’s another social platform to contend with? We do it because social media is our medium. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Vision!

When I was looking for a way into introducing my new article on Social Media Examiner, 26 Tips to Make Pinterest Work for Your Business, I kept hearing the opening lines of Fiddler on the Roof in my head. Sounds crazy, no? And so, the paragraph above is a play on it. Some time ago, when I first started thinking about Pinterest, I did think it was a bit crazy at first. Granted it was fun, cool, a new shiny object. But could we make Pinterest work for business?

That was my guiding question as I set out to write the Pinterest article. More than ever, I see the very valuable role Pinterest can play in social media marketing. And, I hope you will, too.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

–Debbie Hemley, @dhemley Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, PinterestLinkedIn, and Google +.

pinterest tips

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , | 2 Comments