If you’re in the business of selling a product or a service, you likely know how important it is to test concepts with your consumer base before a full product rollout. But if you think that you have to resort to traditional recruiting methods to test your assumptions, think again. Just a small group of consumers (Sprint recommends just five) can give you a wealth of insights into what’s working and what’s not. But, where does one find these consumers? Do you just pick them up off the street?
Well, yes… sometimes. Here are some effective nontraditional ways to get the feedback you’re looking for.
DON’T RECRUIT; INTERCEPT
Recruiting costs a lot of money and precious time, especially if you’re trying to be first to market with a product. But a lot of times, the insights you need are standing right next to you at the grocery store. Start talking to the people around you about your idea and begin collecting data points. One of the most effective ways to do this is to offer an incentive. It might sound crazy, but many an entrepreneur has found success by setting up shop in a public place with a box of donuts or other treats and a friendly smile. You might be surprised by how many passersby will offer up an opinion in exchange for a free treat. (Tip: for some reason, people seem to feel uncomfortable with taking money for their time; free food, however, makes the interaction seem more approachable.)
KNOW WHERE TO INTERCEPT
Although interception can be much faster than traditional recruiting efforts, it’s important to know where to look to find your target population. You want to go to a place that is relevant to your product or category and, from there, get a variety of opinions from all walks of life in order to pick up on insights you might not have thought of. E.g. if you’re working on a food brand, scope out the aisle where your product would be in the grocery store and start talking to people there. If you’re working on a new kind of pool toy, set up shop at the local swimming pool and start talking to kids, parents and babysitters to get a multitude of perspectives on what consumers are looking for.
GET ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Never underestimate the power of a captive audience on social media. By putting a concept out to an audience and gauging reaction, you can save yourself incredible amounts of time, effort, money and guesswork. For instance, by looking at how consumers talked about navigating a grocery store aisle and making selections, The Garage Group was able to recommend three paradigms for re-organizing the aisle for a major retailer.
PROTOTYPE AN UNBRANDED LANDING PAGE
Another low-risk way to gauge consumer demand is to test a not-yet-existent product with a landing page. Toyota did this quietly with an unbranded landing page, further mitigating the risk of connecting their brand to an idea they were not yet certain about while also bypassing the bureaucratic corporate system of testing a branded idea in market. Toyota had an idea that consumers might like to pay for gas from the convenience of their car, so they built a quick off-brand landing page and drove consumers there via Facebook ads to test their value proposition. Toyota smartly wanted to test the idea separate from the brand identity to see if people cared about the core idea, not just the brand behind the idea.
USE THE CLASSIFIEDS
Classified websites like Craigslist might not seem like the most likely place to find consumers, but they can be a goldmine for finding people who will give an honest opinion for cheap pay. In fact, in the Toyota example above, the team recruited consumers to come meet them at a gas station to test their MVP, getting them fast and honest insights in a fraction of the time of regular recruiting efforts.
Crowdsourcing efforts, hackathons and crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are enormously effective ways to test out concept viability at very little cost. Gathering together a group of people with different perspectives to speak into an idea is incredibly efficient and validating for any idea. Just like Toyota did with its unbranded landing page, doing it without branding is, again, a great way to test the power of an idea vs. convoluting the data with the influence of a brand name.
No matter how you recruit consumers, the most important thing is to get moving as quickly as possible. The faster you can get consumer feedback, the faster you can get your product to hit market. Happy testing!