Concept testing a new idea with your target market could ultimately save your business from the kiss of death. While startups and small businesses are at a much greater risk for collapse if a product fails, enterprises risk seriously damaging their reputations and losing substantial sales.
Concept testing your solution can help you make better decisions about designing, developing, and investing in your new idea for the best possible success.
Concept Testing Helps to Ensure Your Gamble Pays Off
B2B concept testing could potentially save you millions of dollars spent on development, marketing, failed sales efforts, and everything else that goes into production and sales.
Start by simply asking your target market, “How likely are you to purchase this product or service?”
If the majority says “not likely” or “not at all”, stop. Don’t continue development. Don’t release a product or service that will barely have an audience.
This can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially if you’ve spent countless hours ruminating over your idea and you’re not ready to give it up. But you need to listen to your market segment.
Their feedback will tell you if you’ve developed a minimum viable product (MVP), a product with enough features to interest early adopters and validate the idea prior to production. Once you concept test your MVP, you can alter and improve the idea accordingly for the best possible launch.
The small B2B business eCrowds, for example, could have used concept testing to understand what its prospects wanted in a web content management system. Instead, it ignored the target market, developed the service completely for its own internal team, and failed to make it user-friendly.
Eventually, eCrowds reached out to get public feedback on the service but it was too late in the process. The company was unable to recover from the flaws in their convoluted design.
Don’t Polish the Wrong Concept
Insights from data gathered from B2B concept testing can improve your new product or service’s chances for success. This includes removing features that just don’t work. Or adding features the decision makers and influencers say will make the product or service that much more appealing.
You may also find that a minor feature in your mind transitions to a larger and more important part of the concept based on your target market’s responses.
“It’s very unlikely you would go into a concept test with one idea and come out of it with exactly the same idea and build exactly what you concept tested.” — Scott Swigart, co-founder and chief research officer, Cascade Insights.
But, don’t worry, a massive overhaul isn’t necessarily called for. Maybe you just require a slight adjustment in your product development; a design alteration, an improved feature, or a more user-friendly version.
The Dangers of Moving Forward Without Concept Testing
In the world of startups, the most common reason for failure is product-market fit.
Consider Essential, Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup. Although its first smartphone had a unique design, it quickly became irrelevant with the release of the iPhone X, which had the same nearly all-screen design.
Essential then had to compete against iPhone and Android with a product that had no real advantage. To make up for the terrible sales, Essential tried to develop a new device with an unusual design. But it didn’t make it to market because of a lack of interest from both the target market and investors.
Concept testing would have shown Essential that it couldn’t create an MVP that would activate their target market. Saving Andy and many others a great deal of heartache.
Confirm Your Marketing Campaign Won’t Be a Turn Off
You can also get a head start on your marketing efforts through B2B concept testing. Knowing how to attract your customers and properly promote your product or service will inevitably help convert customer interest into sales.
It’s possible what you think will be the best-selling feature is different than what your target market would consider the most important feature. You’ll discover the truth during concept testing and have a better sense of what to highlight in your marketing collateral.
Concept testing can help you assess how effective your messaging is and if it’s conveying what you want it to say. If you’re promoting an amazing new service that helps make it easier to track time spent on projects, but in reality, doesn’t distinguish itself from the competition, your messaging needs to change.
Acknowledge the feedback and make adjustments.
Along the same lines, concept testing will tell you if your marketing strategy is properly resonating with your market segment and if they’re even being reached. For instance, make sure to target the marketing channel where your buyers are at. Otherwise, you’re going to miss valuable opportunities.
You’ll also have a better chance of engaging with prospective clients if you understand your entire buyers’ journey. Engage them from the moment they become aware of your solution to the final purchasing decision.
Penny for Your (Written or Verbal) Thoughts
Concept testing can be done quantitatively through surveys or qualitatively through in-depth interviews or focus groups led by moderators.
A discerning focus group moderator or interviewer can skillfully frame key intelligence questions in order to get your target customers’ honest opinions.
- “What do you like about the product?”
- “What makes this idea unique compared to something similar?”
- “Would you recommend it to a friend? If yes, why?”
- “If you saw this marketing campaign, would you be interested in purchasing the product?”
Key intelligence questions like these allow you to get a sense of the most interesting and unique features of the concept. You can then use that to efficiently market to your audience.
B2B Concept Testing: Don’t Fall Flat
Developing a new product or service is a huge investment, meaning it’s no time to guess. Instead, make better decisions through research that lets you know if your idea is truly brilliant or merely a convoluted mess.
If you skip concept testing, you could end up losing everything: your money, reputation, staff, and your entire business.
“Don’t risk more than you can afford to lose!” — Jessi Roberts, the Backroads Boss Lady
But if your concept tests well, you’ll be able to confidently move forward knowing the odds for success are in your favor.
With 15 years of experience in the B2B technology sector, Cascade Insights has the expertise and knowledge to aid in successful product and service launches. Learn more about our market research services here.
Special thanks to Cascade Insights President & CTO Scott Swigart for advising on this piece.