Legal services product development is one of the services that we offer at ONE400. Because of that, we hear a lot of ideas for mobile and web apps. Oftentimes the person pitching the idea doesn’t realize the true cost of developing an app and when we have to have a pricing discussion with them, many would-be entrepreneurs decide not to bring the app to market. This is most certainly the case when the would-be app developer realizes that they could be making a significant financial investment into a product that may not resonate with the people that they would have as customers. This would be a much different conversation if the would-be app developer has done some market research to vet their idea.

Performing market research today is much easier than in the past and there really is no reason why you should not do it before launching any new product. In fact, we use a process at ONE400 that not only determines whether or not your app can capture interest (traction), but also to help you determine the best features and benefits of a new product as well as your cost per acquisition for new customers. Our technique is inspired by the vaporware software companies would once advertise in the 90’s though we’ve updated the process. Here’s how we do it.

We first start off with a meeting to discuss what problem the app will solve. Once you fully understand the problem that you are solving, you need to understand the people that have this problem (i.e., other businesses or consumers). You’ll also want to determine the total population of your target audience, where to find them online, what is the mindset of the person who is most likely to buy your solution the problem you have identified. All of this will not only help you move on to the next steps but will ultimately play a role in your long term marketing strategy should your research indicate that you have a potentially successful product.

Once you are confident you know your intended audience, you are ready to start creating a list of features and benefits. Remember, consumers love to evaluate features, but most often they purchase benefits. If you don’t know the difference, here is a simple analogy. Say you are purchasing a broom. Features on a broom can be things such as an ergonomic handle, a broad brush, a 2 year warranty. Benefits of purchasing this particular broom can be, sweeping with less fatigue, faster cleanup, and a modern look. In other words, features are those bullet points of items that went into the product design and reassurance items such warranties as where benefits are the things that speak to the problem itself (i.e., fast, convenient, easy, status, etc). Since your product is still in pre-development, you can add any features and benefits you want to this list and use them to assist your product research.

Next, you are ready to create a product microsite or landing page. Your microsite is what you will be using to “advertise” your product to potential customers so take some time to design a page that looks great and has all of the necessary elements. The necessary elements are, great marketing copy, strong calls to action,  a section covering features and benefits and a lead capture form. Your microsite should come across to site visitors that your product is fairly along in development and that the product is available now or will be very shortly. Your product microsite can either have a simple lead capture form like this one: domyrealestate.com, or go so far as to even create a purchase path that collects credit card information. Collecting a credit card information from someone is a truer test to determine whether or not you will be able to sell your product to people once it’s developed though not absolutely necessary for the purposes of conducting your research. Make sure to test your lead capture form and integrate it with your email marketing platform of choice so that you can market to this list later if you decide to proceed with developing your app.

Once your microsite is live, you are ready to start generating leads. The best and easiest way to do this is by launching a campaign on Google Adwords. The point of this research is to gather data quickly and most organic channels just won’t deliver sufficient traffic in a short amount of time. With Adwords, you can spend as little as $1,000 to $2,000 and determine very quickly whether or not your product as a chance at success based on the conversion rates and number of leads that you have received. You can also generate leads on paid social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Setup your campaign using keywords related to your product and the pain you are solving and then launch your campaign. When the leads start coming be sure to contact every one of them and ask them questions that will help you determine if your product is a winner. Here are a suggested few:

  • What features are most important to you?
  • How frustrating is this problem?
  • How long have you been looking for a solution?
  • What part of the ad inspired you to fill in the form?

There is not standard line of questions so create a list of everything you think you want to know and ask for as long as the potential customer will allow you to keep them on the line. Let them know that the product is still being developed but that you can email them as soon as it becomes available. This brings is the last question.

How many conversions do you need to determine a winner. This a little tough to answer because it will depend on a number of factors such as potential price of your product, total population of potential customers, conversion rates and more. You may also decide that even a few leads (conversions) are enough for you to move on to development. Some of the things you should consider are not only the total number of lead, but the costs per conversion through paid advertising. For instance, if your product is going to sell for a couple of dollars but it costs you about $25 to acquire a lead then you may need to rethink your pricing strategy. Don’t assume that only receiving  a few leads means that your product idea is not a good one. You need to look at other factors to make sure that the poor lead quality isn’t related to something else like poor microsite copy or improper campaign setup. In most cases you’ll want to let the experiment run through your entire budget before drawing an firm conclusions.

Following this process allows you to determine whether or not your product has a chance of success before making a significant investment into development. If you have a mobile or web app idea that you would like to run by me feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I am happy to give you my take anytime.

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