by Ryan Robinson

Whether you’re just getting started with your own business, growing it on the side of your day job, or investing in a new product line to diversify your company’s offerings, there’s a definite science to launching a product—especially if you want to reduce your upfront costs, hedge against risk and avoid building a product nobody wants.

In order to make sure there will be a paying demand for your new product, choosing to pre-launch that product before investing the time and money into building a polished good is the best way to truly validate your product idea.

Here are three top marketing tactics for validating a product idea before building it.

1. Start One-on-One Conversations with Your Audience

If you’ve already built an email list of customers, leads, subscribers or followers, start by segmenting out a couple hundred subscribers from your email list. Draft up a simple Google Doc outline explaining everything your upcoming product will accomplish, with a focus on the value propositions owners of the new product will receive from having it.

Then, take a few days to begin sending your segmented subscribers a direct, personalized email asking for feedback on this new product you’re building. Alternatively, you can get very quick feedback by picking up the phone and giving a handful of them a call to gauge their interest on your product idea. I recommend emailing a brief survey to them  after reading or hearing about your product.

Towards the end of your conversations or within your feedback survey, be sure to clearly ask each subscriber whether or not they’d be willing to purchase your product based on what they know about it thus far. For those who express interest, ask them to buy and send them a link to pre-order today. If you can get your audience to open up their wallets for your product before building it, you’ll know you’re onto something.

2. Host a Webinar

If you’ll be primarily selling your product online, another great way to validate it before going out and building it, is to host a webinar for either your audience or for the subscribers of another brand that has a higher concentration of your target customers.

During the webinar, you can start by building up the problem your product will be solving, cover some of the ways you’ve struggled with this issue in the past and talk about how you’ve overcome this challenge yourself. It’s important to deliver real value during your webinar and teach an actionable solution, so that attendees feel they’ve benefited from watching.

Finally, towards the end of your webinar, showcase a few slides that demonstrate the most essential functions your upcoming product will have and communicate the ways in which it’ll be valuable. Then, move into a Q&A to address their biggest concerns, and wrap up by asking interested attendees to pre-order the product today.

3. Launch a Free Challenge

You can give your audience a free mini-course, PDF worksheet, video series or other engaging challenge that gets them actively participating in the type of change your upcoming product seeks to make.

After your free challenge ends, much of your audience will be hungry for keeping up the momentum, restarting with a more comprehensive approach, or learning where they can improve upon their mistakes from the challenge. These are all problems your upcoming product should be able to help them accomplish. All you need to do next is ask them to pre-order, then deliver on your promise. Need some challenge inspiration? Start with these creative challenge ideas on Life Hacker.

For even more about how to launch products before you build them, check out how Steve Jobs built pre-launch buzz and get HubSpot’s tips for executing a flawless product launch.

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