Sell your idea before you create it
July 29th, 2009 by Agent Kevin Miller
The story goes like this…Joe Karbo wrote a killer ad for a book titled "The Lazy Man's Way To Riches." He placed it in the classifieds and got a big response! So…he then went and wrote the book. He actually had to refund money to the initial purchasers because he didn't have the book to deliver.
But how amazing…he knew he could sell it! How would that change your mindset in putting your product or service idea together? How would your spouse feel if you first proved there was a need and people confirmed they'd spend money on what you were offering? How would you view start up costs?
There is a lumber mill in my area that sells hand peeled aspen logs, 8' long by 6" diameter, for $35. I own an aspen grove with aspens almost 24" in diameter and 50' long. So I set my 14 year old son to work on hand peeling them so he could sell them. I decided to have him chip in for the cost of a $60 sander to use on them. Then my wife stopped us. She said, "Hey, before we have Caleb fork over money on tools for this little business, why don't we list the logs on craigslist and see if there is a real market for them first?"
Rule number 1 – marry someone really smart.
Rule number 2 – find buyers for your idea before you spend any time or money on it
The bad stats on business start-up failure are full of people who massively devoted themselves to developing ideas that they thought were great, only to fail in selling them later.
So got an idea for a product or service? Research where and how it's being sold now. Figure out how you can set yourself apart to offer it differently, better, tweaked for a niche. If it doesn't exist, find out why. Make sure it's a void that folks want to fill, instead of a void that is there because nobody really cares.
Create a compelling brand name and maybe even an electronic graphic of the product or service.
Then…find a channel to test market it in. Did you know there are people who devote themselves to creating products solely for Wal-Mart to hopefully take interest in, order and distribute?
We should all approach our businesses like that. Put a skeleton to your idea and then go to work test marketing that idea.
Example: A long time ago while in conversation with my Dad and some other family members…while criticizing some rules, the quote was thrown out, "Rules are only guidelines for incompetent people." Not sure if my Dad actually quoted it, or if it was a group effort. But I think that's a hilarious quote and would make a great t-shirt. That's the first of many family quotes I have written down that I think would sell on t-shirts well, though would probably decrease the number of people who actually like us.
Normally, someone wold take an idea like that, spend copious amounts of time researching t-shirt manufacturers, printers, work on a website, and many months and dollars later be looking for that first sale.
And it doesn't happen. And your friends and family roll their eyes. It happens every minute.
However, in this little t-shirt example, you could use Microsoft Word…wait…I'll do it now and time myself. OK, took me 6-minutes flat to make this graphic in Word. And I'm graphically challenged. Now we take it and find a market. eBay we could try. But even better, I'm looking for a big audience that enjoys contrarian views. There are many. Now go pitch the shirt to them. Check with a local retailer. We could make a list of places and entities and research the viability.
If we can't find interest in our little idea (like my t-shirt that I think is funny) then we haven't invested too much and we can go on to something else. Chances are we'll have learned during the process, and probably come up with other ideas. Or in the process, had another opportunity open up to us. All positive things and far better than "building it…and they DON'T come."
Go find buyers and promoters for your product or service idea first. THEN build it.