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Dude, don’t believe everything you read
or see on the internet. — Aristotle

How To Lean Startup
— November 8, 2019
The best way to test any product idea before investing in its development

We already told it multiple times in this blog : 90% of startups that put a product on the market... fail! Does that mean entrepreneurs don't do their homework? No!

They conduct market research, do interviews, qualitative and quantitative market studies and use various tools to validate the market need before developing their product. 

However, the reason number one why so many startups fail is that there is no market need.

Obviously, there is a huge gap between what people say when you ask them if they might buy your product and what they actually do once you put them into a real purchasing process. This is the harsh reality that passionate entrepreneurs have to face.

A reality we cannot afford as a startup studio aiming to launch multiple startups every year. That's why we've worked hard to find a method to make sure people will buy the product before investing a single penny in product development.

What most entrepreneurs do

When they think they have validated the market need, most entrepreneurs start by developing their product. Then, they invest in a super sexy e-commerce website because this is the channel they selected to sell their product. Once the website is online, they invest in online or offline marketing campaigns to attract their target audience to their website and hope they'll buy this brand new product.

Unfortunately, most of the time, almost nobody buys the product... .

How we test a product idea in less than a month at Make it

Of course, we did the same mistakes a couple of years ago at Make it just because this is what we learned at university. But it didn't take long before we understood that building cool products (according to our team) that nobody buys is not a viable situation.

Want to know our solution to make sure people will buy the new product we're planning to launch? Well... we just do the complete opposite: 

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We build the website > We invest a small amount of money in marketing > We see if someone buys the product > We decide if the product is worth developing or not. This time, based on real figures such as the Cost of Customer Acquisition. Not based on what people told us during our interviews.

Wait a second... How would someone buy the product if it doesn't exist? Well... We just do as if the product existed. That's it. And here is how it works.

Step #01 - People need to see your product

Even though your product doesn't exist, you'll need pictures that we'll show to your target audience. Wondering how you could get pictures of an unexisting product? Here are some ideas:

  • Take pictures of a prototype
  • Invest in a photorealistic 3D-model
  • Take pictures of an existing product and find a graphic designer who will tweak the images using Photoshop in order to make it look like the product you want to build



Step #02 - Create your website

Nowadays, if you can use PowerPoint, you can definitely create a website that will do the job for this testing phase. By far.

Just use website builders like Wix , Shopify , Webflow or Instapage to build your website in hours.

1. Start by creating a homepage where you'll show pictures of the product, talk about the pain your product solves, the value it brings and its main features. Add some storytelling and maybe a couple of "fake" testimonials. Basically, a homepage that looks like on any other single product e-commerce website.

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Important tip: don't put the price of the product on the homepage! If your website's visitors leave it when they're on the homepage, you won't be able to analyse if it is because they're not interested in the product or if they believe that it is just too expensive. 

On this homepage, make sure to add "Learn More" buttons leading to a product page.

2. Create a product page. Again, this page should look like any other product page. So add some pictures, a product description, show the technical specifications (be creative if you don't know them), reviews, etc.

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Add the price of the product on this page and a "Buy Now" button. The goal of this "Buy Now" button is to put your visitors into a real purchasing process. 

3. Build a "Checkout" Page. If some visitors click on the "Buy Now" button of your product page, they should land on the first step of a checkout process. Yeah, we know, you don't have anything to sell right now. Just trust us for the moment.

In this first step of the "Checkout" process, add a form asking the Personal Details of your future client and the Delivery Details.

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Add a "Pay Now" button which will take them to the second - and final - step of the "Checkout" process.

And this is where the magic happens! 

On this last page, you'll add a form where your clients can choose their payment method, add their credit card number and the cardholder name. As your product doesn't exist, we won't wait for your client to fill in this form.

Instead, you will immediately trigger a popup which says something like : "Thank you for your interest in Product ABC. Unfortunately, the product is so popular for the moment that we are running out of stock. In order to apologize for the inconvenience, we’ll send you an email with a 15% discount code that you’ll be able to use on your next order. Of course, you’ll be the first informed once the product is available. - The ABC team".

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Step #03 - Learn

Can you realize what you've just done right now? You've built a website, you've launched marketing campaigns to attract qualified traffic to your website and, amongst your website's visitors, a couple of people got to the stage where they saw this crazy popup!

That simply means that people were ready to grab their MasterCard and buy your product. For an entrepreneur, this is a huge accomplishment. You had an idea. Now you know if this idea is worth your time and money.

In other words, you know exactly the marketing effort you need (namely, time and money) to get one client. This is what we call the Cost Of Customer Acquisition. 

Thanks to this amazing "testing scenario", you now have all the data you need to decide whether or not your product is feasible from an economic point of view. Before taking the risk of investing time and money in a product that might flop.

To cut a long story short, you don't need to have a real product in order to try to sell it. If you can't sell it when it doesn't exist, why would people suddenly start buying it once the product is ready?

Startup People, we really hope this article was helpful for you! If you have any comments, feedback or question about this method, just send an email to hey@makeit-studio.com . 

As our mission is to double the "startup success rate", you should definitely get in touch with us if you have a project that you'd like to test, develop or grow. We'll organize a call or a meeting to give you as much value as we can.

Dream & Do.

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