It’s (finally) time to start moving on the Idea or Product you want to build!
What’s been holding you back?
Has it been the time that you don’t have?
Has it been the money you need?
Has it been just been too hard to step outside your comfort zone?
I’ve got a secret: Regardless of where you are in the development cycle with your Idea or Product, feedback (and what you do with it) is your secret weapon to getting to the next level.
An Idea or a Product is nothing until it’s been shared with others.
41 (Mostly Free) Ways to Get Feedback
Hit the Streets (in-person feedback)
- Get a free day pass to WeWork and share your ideas with others while sipping free coffee and attending free events (not a bad day!): https://www.wework.com/promos/free-trial
- Email your 10 closest friends with your best pitch. Limit your pitch to 3 bullet points and ask for honest feedback. Invite them for a coffee (on you) to talk through your idea or test your product.
- Share your idea with your family over the holidays. Warning: Prepare yourself for a lot of “I don’t get it’s” or “that won’t work”. These rejections should help you perfect your pitch and help you understand what feedback is helpful and what you should ignore.
- Go to Meetup Events in your city. Don’t worry too much about the exact topic of the Meetup, almost any event will provide you the opportunity to make new connections and test your idea or product.
- Find the densest concentration of potential customers. Does your idea or product deal with travel? Go to the airport. Does it help with food preparation? Go to Whole Foods or Williams Sonoma. Find your customer base and share your idea or product with anyone there who will listen (including employees!).
Get Feedback at Scale
UserTesting and their free, 5 minute review site Peek offer an incredibly fast and affordable way to get feedback on a website, a product, or an idea from a targeted audience. Pro tip: Run tests on your (potential) competitors to get feedback on what people do and don’t like about them.
Build a free survey, send it out to your target audience. Keep it very short and simple (3–5 questions). Follow up with anyone who provides a detailed response in a free response section for an interview. Make sure there is something in it for them!
8. Join Facebook Groups
Facebook has groups for pretty much every topic under the sun. Find the groups most related to your idea or product, join them, and start contributing comments, likes, and feedback on other’s posts. Once you’ve built up some credibility in the group, ask for their feedback on what you’re working on. You’ll be surprised how much value you get from this simple tactic!
9. Start Facebook Groups
Does your idea or product sit outside or partially outside of existing FB groups? Start your own! Here’s everything you need to know: 10 Tips for Starting a FB Group.
Leverage Your Local Networks
10. Live in an apartment? Post on the message board.
Post on your message board (both digitally and physically) and include a link to your survey for people willing to provide more feedback. Make sure to offer them some benefit/compensation for their time. A free coffee or a free version of your prototype product (if it’s low cost) can usually do it!
11. People who live in “your city” on Facebook
Facebook’s Search has a very deep feature set that can help you find people in your area that meet a specific set of characteristics. Start by looking for people who live in your city. Facebook will only show you publicly accessible profiles, but this should be good enough to start building a list to get feedback from.
12. People who like “your thing/industry” on Facebook
Build upon your search above and find people nearby who like your thing or potential industry. It will be manual work, but reach out to 10–20 people from this list with the same pitch you used above. Keep it short, keep the ask small, and offer them something for their time.
Try to Start Selling Your Product (before it exists!)
13. Run (no cost!) Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Google Ads
Most of these sites above will offer you at least $50 free in advertising credit for new accounts. Take advantage of this! Also, check out QuickMVP, which will help you put together most of the details you need to run a successful campaign for a minimum viable product (MVP).
Facebook Free Ad Credits ($125): http://www.netpaths.net/50-facebook-coupon-advertising-credit/
LinkedIn Free Ad Credits: https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/cx/17/05/sponsored-updates-promo
Twitter Free Ad Credits: https://ads.twitter.com/campaign/18ce53x7z1m/new/campaign/objectivepicker
Adwords (Google) Free Ad Credits: https://www.google.com/intl/en_us/ads/adwords-coupon.html
Does your product fit into one of Craiglist’s categories? If no, you must have something really crazy! List your product at different price points and pay attention to the questions and level of interest you get. What are people confused about, what do they understand?
Ebay is (still) a great place to test selling your product. With the auction format, you’ll find price discovery is a lot easier! You’ll still get many of the same benefits as Craigslist and Amazon with feedback and questions from customers. Follow these rules to build a great listing fast: https://crazylister.com/blog/the-perfect-ebay-listing/
It’s incredibly easy to sign up on Amazon as a seller. The main challenge you’ll have here is ranking high enough in the search results to show up to potential customers. However, if you can drive interest from other channels (email, website, social) directly to your Amazon page, you’ll simplify many of the challenges of selling, including fulfillment and credit card processing.
17. Launch a website that only has a pricing chart
Here are a few tips if you want to test out different tiers of service for your product: https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/if-youre-going-to-test-your-business-idea-make-sure-you-do-it-right-e9b09a7050c7
18. Sign up for as many pitch competitions as you can handle
The beauty of these is you don’t need anything real in order to pitch. All you need is your idea. Keep your pitch short: explain the problem and how people are solving it today, explain how your idea/product solves this problem 10x better, and describe what next steps you will take with the prize money.
Here’s a HUGE list of pitch competitions: https://grasshopper.com/blog/startup-competition-guide/
Apply with Your Idea or Product
19. Apply to Accelerators and Incubators
Nothing makes you develop your idea or product more quickly than writing an application to an accelerator or an incubator. As part of the application, you’ll need to go into great detail on your idea or product and how it develops over time. For many of these applications, you’ll also need to put together a business plan. While these plans never actually turn out to be right, they are a forcing mechanism that requires you to think how this business could develop and what questions you need to answer (and in what order!)
Here is a HUGE list of accelerators and incubators: https://www.seed-db.com/accelerators
Find a Mentor
Who in your professional network has entrepreneurial experience? Who has experience in the industry your product or idea falls in? Reach out to them and ask for their advice. After developing this relationship, ask if they would like to be your mentor or advisor for your project. Offer them something, whether it’s a small part of ownership in the business or a valuable connection to someone in your network, value should go in both directions.
21. Alumni Networks
Leverage your alumni network (especially the one that likely already exists in your city). Having a pre-existing connection will make it easier to build a relationship and provide you several ways to get additional feedback (at events, in online groups, etc.)
22. Mentor Services
Many cities, large and small, have existing mentor networks. For example, DC has Score which offers free mentoring on business ideas. Additionally, these mentoring services can connect you with professionals in their personal network, provide you free legal services, and more. Take advantage of them!
Kickstarter is a fantastic way to prove that your idea or product has a customer base before it exists. Build a killer campaign by following these simple steps: 10 Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Launched My Kickstarter Campaign
If your idea is more mission, rather than product-oriented, Indiegogo may be a better fit for you. Indiegogo will also let you keep the $$$ you raise even if you don’t reach your goal. A few more quick differences are listed here: https://www.lifewire.com/kickstarter-vs-indiegogo-3485780
25. Where do your target customers spend their time? Where would you sell your product? Who could benefit from your idea?
Find these places and spend time there too. Take notes. Observe the other habits of your target customer. Pay attention to how other products are marketed. Why are people acting the way they are?
26. Create a Facebook page
No explanation needed, get after it and start joining lots of Facebook groups with your new Facebook page. More tips and tricks here: https://blog.bufferapp.com/how-to-create-manage-facebook-business-page
27. Create an Instagram account
Many ideas or products should go Instagram first today. If your idea or product has any visual component (and actually, even if it doesn’t), you need to be on Instagram. Here are a few tips on how to master Instagram: http://sendible.com/insights/7-tips-for-using-instagram-for-business
28. Where does your target audience spend most of their time? (Pinterest, Etsy, Snapchat, Messenger, Reddit)
Instead of listing your idea or product on every, single, social media site, pick and choose the 1–2 more where you think your audience spends most of their time. If your idea is more craft or design oriented, you should be on Pinterest and Etsy. If your idea or product is more tech or developer focused, get on Reddit.
Build a Website.
29. Build a free website and start collecting feedback
When you run your free ad campaigns and surveys, you’ll want to have somewhere to send prospects to learn more (another option is Facebook). Check out Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, or Vistaprint for a free website (or website trial) that you can build in a few hours.
30. Build just a landing page
Don’t have the time to build a full website. Just start with a simple landing page and email capture. Unbounce is a personal favorite.
Get Negative (with a purpose)
31. Get 5 reasons why your idea or product is bad or would fail
Exploring the negative side of your idea or product can be an incredibly valuable exercise. First, it will help you refine your pitch because you’ll be able to develop responses/rebuttals. Next, it will help you focus on what is valuable with your idea and product and what isn’t. Finally, it will help you develop tougher skin, because it’s difficult out there!
Find Potential Competitors, Ask Them Questions
32. Who would your product or idea be competing with?
Test out these products or services and ask their customer support team lots of questions. Figure out where their product has significant gaps. What do you do 10x better than them? Where don’t you want to compete with them?
33. See who’s purchased competitor products.
Find buyers of your potential competitors products (Facebook Groups, Amazon reviews, Ebay reviews). Ask them (however you can) what they liked and didn’t like about the competitor product. At an appropriate time, share your idea or product and ask for their feedback (good, bad, and ugly)
Record Your Elevator Pitch, Share It!
34. Pitch your idea (to yourself to start) in only 30 seconds.
Relate your idea to commonly understood concepts. Explain why it’s a step-function better than the alternatives. Share it with others for feedback on what’s confusing, what is easy to understand, what’s still missing.
35. Invision / Figma
Invision and Figma offer powerful ways to make your digital ideas feel real. The product connects wireframes together in a way with transitions and animations that will provide you with a “product” that can be demoed, tested with potential customers, and more.
Products I Can’t Live Without #3: Figma
Figma is the design tool that you need to start using yesterday. Author: Alex Mitchell
Not ready for a fully clickable prototype with Invision? Start smaller with simple wireframes. Wireframes remove all of the distractions and focus on the product or idea. They are great for getting feedback on a product flow and should be a part of your testing arsenal.
Top free wireframing tools here: http://www.creativebloq.com/wireframes/top-wireframing-tools-11121302
37. Maker studios
Do you need to build a prototype of your product to start testing it with customers? I’d encourage you to start smaller and at home, but a maker studio, where you pay a monthly fee to have access to industrial equipment may be right for you. Here’s an example of a local maker studio: http://www.unionogden.com/
Collect Feedback from the Market
38. Google Trends
Google Trends makes it incredibly easy to graph search volume for a particular term or phrase. Is your idea or industry taking off or is it cooling off? Looking for a new idea? See what is spiking in search volume lately.
Crunchbase is a great way to find companies operating in your targeted industry or with similar products. See how much money they’ve raised in fundraising and from who. Start engaging these networks, they may be your future investors too!
AngelList offers another path to startup discovery. Find companies that are succeeding or have shut down in your vertical. What did they do right or wrong? What type of press have they gotten and from whom? How did they test their ideas early on?
ProductHunt is a very valuable place to post your idea, book, product, or tool and get massive amounts of actionable feedback from people who regularly turn ideas into reality. If you’re lucky, PH will also help you drive significant traffic to your website or social presence.
Make Sense of Your Feedback
Ok, you’ve tried a few of the ideas above and you’ve (hopefully) found some success. Now what? What do you do with all of this feedback?
First, write down your original hypothesis.
Why did you think your idea or product would be successful?
Write down the feedback you’ve gotten that supports your hypothesis.
Write down the feedback that refutes your hypothesis.
Next, write a new hypothesis given what you’ve learned so far. In what ways can you cheaply and quickly test this new hypothesis?
What are you waiting for? Get going, get testing, and make your Idea or Product happen this year!
Need Help Preparing for a Product Manager Interview?
I’ve interviewed over 50 Product Managers and can help you prepare for your interview. I can help prepare you for interviews with any company size and industry.
Book time with me on Clarity!
More from Alex Mitchell
Top 10 Podcasts for Product Managers in 2018
The top 10 podcasts for Product Managers looking to grow in 2018.
Check out Alex’s Book: Building Digital Products
Digital Download: https://gum.co/CLccb