Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Prove Your Product Market Fit

Top 3 Actions to Take During Winter Break to Move Your Business Concept Forward

The following post was written by Cindy Klein Marmer, Associate Director of the Butler Launch Pad

We’ve compiled a list of three key actions you can take this winter break to prove out market need and ensure you are building a product or service that people want. CB Insights’ post-mortem study of over 100 startup failures showed that one of the top reasons startups failed was lack of product-market fit. Here are 3 actions you can take to make sure you don’t repeat their mistakes.

1. Get to know your customer better

Don’t waste time merely sending out a survey. Get to know your customer with direct 1:1 conversations. The better you know your customer and how they prioritize the pain point you are solving, the better you will be able to deliver a product or service they really want and need.

This past year’s pandemic has tested businesses and their knowledge of the customer. Take fashion. High end retailers and fashion rental subscription businesses struggled to react to the change in their customers’ needs. Many smaller fashion and apparel companies quickly talked to their customers and pivoted to add masks to their product offerings or highlighted athleisure to meet the new work from home needs of their customer. The ability to connect with their customers allowed these businesses to fill a current market need and keep relevant in this challenging time.

Resources

Who Do You Interview, with Justin Wilcox

How to Find Your Customers, with Justin Wilcox

What Do You Ask, with Justin Wilcox

2. Create a Tangible Representation of your Product or Minimal Tangible Product (MTP)

Before you spend a ton of money producing your product, you want to test the market as much as possible to prove the market needs, and wants, your product or service. A minimal tangible product (MTP) is not your final saleable product, but it is a tangible representation of your business concept. Whether this is a clay or cardboard mock up, a small sample taste of your culinary creation, or click through prototype of your app, it allows your target customer to get a real feel for what you are creating and provide more usable feedback. You can observe how they are interacting with your MTP and gain insights both from what is being said and by what the customer isn’t saying as well.

Consider what tangible representation of your product you could put in your target customer’s hands. What would it look like? Consider sketching out the user interface and user experience either online with tools like Invision, Balsamiq, or even just on paper. This MTP will allow users or advisors to interact with something tangible and provide feedback on the concept as well as the basic experience.

3. Run a market test

Simply put, get your MTP in the hands of your target customer. Better yet, create a potential buying opportunity so you can cut through the platitudes of friends of friends who think you’ve got a great idea and actually test if people will spend money to buy your product or service.

In the current economic climate and pandemic, setting up a minimal eCommerce site is a great place to start. If you have a product image, you can leverage tools like Placeit and MockupWorld to populate images of your products for your eCommerce site before you’ve physically produced the items.

These three actions will help you prove out your product-market fit and gain traction with your future customers so that you can hit the ground running in 2021. The Blank Center team can’t wait to work with you in the new year and help you achieve your entrepreneurial goals. 

Resource: Peer 2 Peer Connect sessions, Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET.