Today I'll address an increasingly important marketing issue for startups: "How do you know, test, measure, the amount of "Wow" that your idea has?"
This was triggered by a recent comment from G.G.:
After reading this post a question came to my head? How does one know
when they achieve that 'Wow' moment. Looking back at a previous story
on this blog I think that a good barometer for the Wow meter will be
whether or not the 30 second elevator pitch makes someone say, "Tell me
G.G. has noted one important test. There are others I'll discuss them in a moment.
Recall that the "Wow" is the excitement (a strong, positive emotion) a customer or end user feels immediately after seeing their first viewing of your product/service offering. It is so attractive that it compels him to eagerly wish he could purchase your product immediately. In today's hyper-competitive markets, it is a must-have. Love at first sight. There is no time to improve and work on making it better because your intense competition will include at least one startup with "Wow" and leave you in the dust.
Industrial products need the same testing for "Wow" as do consumer products. Believe it or not, those industrial guys also have emotions. So do those engineers.
Yes, I know that you see the "Wow" in your idea and think it is very cool and a killer app. But that is not yet a prove fact for your customers.
Here are some methods for testing the "Wow" of the idea you are very excited about. They are practical and they work.
Let's start with Level One: that is when you have an idea that is in your head, you have no prototype, nothing to demonstrate.
- Do an elevator pitch. G.G. wisely suggested this as a primal test of an idea's "Wow". In less than 30 seconds you have to get the stranger so eager that he says "Tell me more." Hopefully with a lot of enthusiasm. No long lists of features. No time for education. Short and focused and crisp. If he yawns, time to go back to the drawing board.
- Test with friends. This simple test is rarely done, to my amazement. Serial entrepreneurs do it religiously. Jeff Hawkins tested his prototypes for the original Palm PDA on families of trusted employees. He chose people living in Chicago (far from gossip filled Silicon Valley and filled with Midwestern people who respected traditional promises of secrecy). He went back to the drawing board a lot of times before he "got it right."
- Test one thing only. Test one thing at a time, one thing that you believe will stir up the emotions. Not several things during the same test. People remember one thing about a product, recall single impressions. Not stories, not pages, not long paragraphs. Keep trying out alternative things until you find what resonates with the people.
- Phone customer examples. This is especially important if you have an industrial or high tech product. A simple call to a handful of the decision makers in a corporation will be enough for Level One testing. It will also press your ability to do an elevator pitch to a stranger, on the phone. People are curious about new things and will respond to you. Listening to their reaction will tell you a lot about what is and what is not "Wow" about your product.
When you have the results of Level One testing, you are ready for Level Two. That is when (1) you think you have figured out what excites people about your product/service and (2) you have something to show people (e.g. web site mock-up, physical model, working demo).
Now you are beginning to sweat "leaking the idea" and need to work on keeping the secret as long as you can. This is tricky, but is doable with some careful choosing of who you use and how you do your tests.
- Test on a deliberate, small group of customers. Up to a dozen are required per test of a selected message. You will be looking for consistency of responses and surprises. Your Level One testing will have given you the message you are trying out. Now you are seeking to validate the degree of "Wow" this group has when they see your product/service. Consumer testing firms can arrange to do formal, carefully prepared focus groups, but most startup people and investors find that less valuable at this stage than you talking to people on your own, learning as you speak and listen.
- Poke doubters. Everyone knows a few people who always see the glass half empty. They are negative about everything. Test them to see them react in person. You will observe their body language. If they denigrate the iPhone prototype but start to play with the expanding photo feature, you have learned something valuable about "Wow". If they are confused about how to turn the thing on, ditto.
- Beware of the optimists. They will mislead you more than help you, unless you are careful of what they say. Look for consistency in their responses to what is so amazing about your great product. Their accolades will be gushing and flowing with buzz words. So work to see what in your offering seems to be especially appealing to all those tested.
- Watch for what is missing. Your demo may expose what is not there. That is why you need to be present during the testing, so you can get a dialogue going to generate more responses to your idea. Surprises like this, when discovered early enough, can keep a startup from wasting precious time or even forestall a premature death of a new enterprise.
By this time you should know what is way cool about your offering. That is what the "Wow" is all about. It is what makes your product/service compelling. It will propel customers to pay for it, eagerly.
You are not yet ready for Level Three (prepare a list of customers who will tell people they are eager to buy your offering), but you are getting there. Completion of the first two levels will give you standout power and confidence you are on the right track to build an amazing business.
BOTTOM LINE: You must find the "Wow" in your idea before you try to recruit others to join you, before you try to raise seed capital. It is essential. Without it, you are dead in the water, a sailboat without a wind. With it, you are jet propelled. It will be central to your unfair competitive advantage. Simple testing, done deliberately, planned with care, is how it is found out. Serial entrepreneurs do it every time. It is not rocket science. So go do it. And come out wiser and stronger, loaded with "Wow."I wish you The Best on your Adventure!