How would you answer this question?
“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?”
Gary Halbert, world famous copywriter asked a class full of students this same question in one of his advertising classes. Many of the students had answers like:
“I want to have the best meats and condiments!”
“I’ll take the best location!”
“I’ll give my customers the lowest price…”
These seem like reasonable answers right?
Wrong! Halbert cooly explained that he had one advantage that would “whip them all.” That advantage?
A starving crowd…
The fatal mistake many golf startups make is failing to identify whether or not there’s a starving crowd for their new product. An idea pops into the head of an aspiring golf nut that he knows without a shadow of a doubt will be a massive success.
He’s even setting the date for an IPO and whether the new doo-hickey should be white or blue. But he’s never done his homework and determined if there truly was a market for what he’s selling.
If you’re considering selling a product by skipping the research process… you’ve just bought a one-way ticket to the vast graveyard of failed ideas and shattered dreams where “great” ideas are laid to rest.
But I suspect since you’re reading this… you’re a wee bit smarter than that… let’s get to work!
Detective Work 101
The advent of the internet has brought us access to literally billions if not trillions worth of data points. Literally a quick Google search and you can figure out if there’s a legit market for your product.
In order to help you conceptualize how insanely powerful a little bit of research can be let’s play out a scenario. Let’s say you want to create a shiny new app for the iPhone that gives golfers swing tips.
Great we can start the process of elimination with a Google search…
Here’s what comes up:
Whaddya know? Not only does it bring up a ton of “free” searches but there’s even competition selling their own apps.
Unlike what many would tell you… competition is a great thing! It tells you there’s a market out there for your stuff. Now mind you, some of these guys are putting out “free” apps but with a little digging you’ll find there’s actually quite a few selling paid apps.
Even better in some cases you may be able to see how many times an app has been sold which validates the idea even more.
Finding Out Their Little Hearts’ Desire…
Now we’ve dug around on Google and determined that, yes, people are looking for golf swing apps. Awesome right? Done deal let’s start putting up the Facebook fan page… right?
We need to know what benefits these customers are looking for. As John Carlton said about products, “there’s a smoking graveyard of fantastic products the creators couldn’t sell.”
In order to sell a product we need to know what their pain and pleasure points are…
So how do we tease out what golfers are really looking for swing apps? It’s almost identical to finding out if there’s a market in the first place. Except this time we’re going into the dark man-cave of golfing forums where everyone is an expert… and not afraid to give opinions.
This time, though, we’re looking for areas where competing products actually let the golfer down. Where are they hurting with these existing products, and how can we solve that problem?
For this search I went into one of the most popular golf forums: GolfWRX.com. Just hit the “Forums” button and type in “golf apps for swing,” and voila! Lookie here:
Lo and behold, we see a person who has used golf apps before, and has ideas for an ideal solution. Here’s what he suggested:
Now this thread only had a couple replies, but it did have 456 views. This tells us that there’s some interest in the product idea, and even a conversation going on about ways to make improvements.
Don’t just look at one or two threads and think you’ve found the “ideal” solution. Quite akin to those hard-nosed, dedicated detectives on “Law & Order,” we’re just following where the evidence leads us.
So far your golf swing app for iPhone looks like a hot market… and we know Halbert’s “starving crowd” exists.
What are they saying about existing products?
Finally, we’re going to the veritable “Disneyland” of customer research. Literally a place where you can spend all day looking around, observing human conversations, and probably blow a ton of cash.
Just like Google and GolfWRX, we fire up Amazon’s home page and use that lovely little search field with the terms, “golf apps for swing” and here’s what we get:
And here we have some apps (there were more below this shot) where we find the V1 Coaching System. Here’s where we get “dirty” with our research…
Click on the customer reviews and scroll down to see all of those good ol’ fashioned complaints and compliments about a golf swing app.
Have a look:
This is how we can break these comments down:
one person had weird technical issues with the camera always being “upside down”
there might be an issue with the salesmanship regarding the app where someone felt duped
quality of the app may be sketchy
Again, go through the reviews except the 5-star ones. Reason to ignore the 5-stars is (audible gasp!) people pay writers to put up fake reviews, and, of course, they’re always going for the highest rating possible.
The term they use is “feed the beast” because the more 5-star ratings a product gets, the higher its rankings within Amazon’s search algorithms.
Avoiding a Financial Bloodbath
Here’s some final thoughts for you…
Don’t do what most would-be inventors of golf products do… they think about the product before the market.
If you can’t find the “starving market” then you cannot sell your product. People will simply not feel compelled to buy what you’re selling if there’s no real desire for it.
And even worse, they go to friends and family to seek validation for their ideas. Ever watch American Idol? How many times does a would-be rock star go up on stage and sound like a house cat hopped up on catnip trying to hit notes they just can’t reach?
Then when the judges lambaste them for their crappy singing skills a mortified look sweeps over the singer’s face. And then you’ll hear this, “but everyone at my church and all my friends say I’m good.”
What you’ll want to do after you’ve done all this research is hit up the “man on the street.” Go to your local golf club or range and talk to at least 20 people and pitch your idea like this:
“Hey, really quickly, I just wanted to get your opinion… this might be a dumb idea, but would you buy a golf swing app that gives you tips on fixing your swing?”
Don’t ask them how much they’ll pay… they won’t have a clue. But if you get multiple people asking where they can buy the app… you know there’s a winner in your pocket.
If you need help determining whether your golf product is viable, or need help getting deeper insights on an existing product you have sold… let us know. We can improve your sales by doing the detective work for you!