This is Part 3 of a 3-part series: "How to Validate Your Ideas".

Part 1: Searching
Part 2: Listening
Part 3: Asking

So far we've talked about validating your ideas with searching and listening. In the final part of this series, we're going to talk about asking.

Asking

I see so many people use guesswork when it comes to creating products and services. Why risk spending months of time and energy creating something that nobody wants, when you can simply ask your existing and/or potential audience what they want from you? One of the best advice I've been given over the years is "Don't ask. Don't get." The good thing is, most of the time your audience wants to help you, especially if you ask in the right way.

1. Reddit & Quora

We've already talked about these in Part 2 where you learned how to use Reddit and Quora to listen to the questions people are asking, and the answers given by other participants.

Of course, you can post questions in Reddit and Quora yourself. The key here is to take time to listen first to see what types of questions have already been asked and check out the tone of the communities. Also, be especially mindful of the etiquettes of these platforms and do your best to adhere to them.

Finally, when you do ask a question, don't make it a sales pitch. Instead, be helpful. Share your knowledge and expertise and ask others to share their experiences, whether positive or negative.

2. Niche communities

In Part 2 we talked about how to find places where people gather to discuss things. If you missed that, here's what you do. Open up Google, type in your keywords followed by:

  • forum
  • discussion group
  • community
  • chat
  • resources
  • list
  • user group
  • blog
  • questions
  • FAQs
  • advice
  • problems
  • help
  • reviews

So, for example, "ukulele forum", "ukelele discussion group", "ukulele community", etc.

Once you've found a forum/community, again, take time to listen and check out the tone of the place. Then ask your question and invite people to share their views and experience.

3. Survey

Conducting a survey is a great way to gather insight about your idea. Don't be shy about asking people to take a survey. I've found that Facebook users are pretty responsive when it comes to participating in surveys. Either ask your friends on your own timeline, or, if you belong to Facebook groups, invite other members to do so. Just make sure the groups you belong to allow this. If you're not sure, ask the group owner before posting a link.

Here are two excellent free tools I've used to conduct surveys:

Personally I like to ask open-ended questions (where people can type in whatever they want in a text box) instead of multiple choice type of questions as they allow the participants to express their opinions freely. Here are a few great questions to ask:

  • "What is the biggest problem / challenge you've encountered in relation to [your idea]?"
  • "What solutions have you tried?"
  • "If there's a dream solution for your problem, what would it be?"

4. Ask your audience / followers / subscribers

Nobody knows your audience more than your audience themselves. So any idea validation process should include them. They already know you and like your content, and they are perfect candidates for you to reach out to. Either ask the question(s) directly, or point them to your survey if you're using one.

If you have a way to interact with your audience, you have a way to ask them questions. For example:

  • Social media platforms such as your Facebook page and your Instagram account.
  • Write a blog post about your idea and invite readers to comment.
  • Send them an email using your email marketing software.

5. Interviews

You can find interview candidates from your existing audience or by posting in niche communities and social media platforms. If you're using a survey, you can also add a question at the end asking respondents if they'd be willing to participate in a short follow-up interview. Ask open-ended rather than yes-no type of questions. And give the person enough time to think about their answers.

You can conduct an interview on the phone, using Skype or Zoom, via emails or in person. Whenever you can, record the interview so you can review it later and make notes.

To record an interview on Skype, you can use Pamlea (Windows) or Ecamm Call Recorder (Mac).

If you're using your phone to interview, simply search for a recording app in the Apple or Android app store. There are many to choose from.

You may find it easier to review the interview if you get the recording transcribed. Rev provides a great service for this.

Important: Make sure you always ask the interviewee's permission to record the conversation.

Analysing the responses you've collected

Look through the responses you've collected, including all the transcripts of any recording. Can you see any patterns emerging? Start making notes about any words / phrases that keep coming up. What needs/desires are being expressed? Are you sensing an urgency in those needs/desires, as in "If a solution exists I'd get my wallet out and pay for it now"? Often you'll find that the same few topics keep coming up again and again, which means that they're the topics that really matter to the people in your target market.

If you're not seeing any patterns or real urgency in the responses you've collected, don't lose heart. It doesn't mean you have to abandon your idea. It just means you need to dig deeper by perhaps speaking to more people or looking at your ideas from a different angle. The important thing is to not get fixated on an idea that doesn't appear to have a lot of demand. And be thankful that you have just saved yourself a huge amount of work, time and money that would have gone into creating something that nobody wanted.


Are you ready to test your ideas?

I hope you've found this 3-part series on validating your ideas helpful.

Learn how to validate your ideas before spending time and energy on creating products and services that may not sell.
Learn how to validate your ideas by asking your existing and potential audience what they think about your topic.
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