How do I measure customer interest in the planning stage of a startup?
Should I create a teaser Ad Campaign to measure customer interest or maybe a subscription form, before moving forward?
If you're not already aware of it, Steve Blank (The Lean Launchpad, The Lean Startup) has a great phrase he uses for every startup in the same position as yours.
"Get out of the office."
Meaning, you have to actually talk to people ie. potential customers. Not just a few, but lots and lots. About 100 is a meaningful base from which to draw conclusions.
And not just once either, but many, many times to:
- test your ideas
- test features
- test methods of delivery
- test the business model
Blank insists interest measurement is not something that can be done at the desk or from the computer. It must be done in person, so you can see and hear what really matters to people.
It's only after doing your market research can you confidently take the next step, whatever that is – development, launch, VC funding,etc.
I agree with much of Steve's comments. Talking to people is the best way to ascertain if your idea has legs. If people get excited by your concept, and start elaborating on your idea or making suggestions on what you could do with it, it may suggest you're onto something conceptually.
Have a clear idea of your target market and get out there as much as possible.
Ask people for honest answers. There are meetup groups in most cities these days that allow you to engage with other entrepreneurs and share advice with one another.
I would suggest mixing your face-to-face interviews with online surveys. Ask people if they'd use the product or service, how much they would pay for it, how often they would use it, etc.
Further to this, I would suggest a few things:
- Start a Facebook page, create some content and drive interest. See if people get excited and if you can gather a following.
- Create a landing page for your business (just set up a cheap one) to give your concept some credibility.
- Ask for expressions of interest and collect a database either through social media or on your website. This means when you go live, you've got an audience ready to market to.
- It may also be worth looking at Kickstarter or GoFundMe also.