How to Test an Idea

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Do you have buckets of ideas you’ve mentally stashed in the back of your mind? I know I do—and many of the people I talk to in strategy calls do as well. But I know that can also be incredibly overwhelming. Do you dive in and try all the things? Analyze the pros and cons down to the last detail? I’m a big fan of beta-testing… Kind of like app companies (should) do.

Here are some of my favorite ways to test an idea.

Offer something small for free. Think a quick YouTube tutorial, a how-to guide, or something else that touches on the general concept. If no one reads or watches, welp, then you know not to put work into the big thing. But if people are interested, maybe it’s worth the effort to explore more.

Test with a tweet. (Or LinkedIn post, etc.) Paul Jarvis famously did this when he was had the idea of Fathom, an alternative analytics program. He posted a doodle of his idea of what it would be and sat back and waited for feedback. And then his app was born. Amazing, right? People are so generous if you just ask the question!

Offer a thing for a low price. We did this with our Design in a Day™ program and it was a wild success. (And we did it with a one-month process that was a big flop because no one actually wanted to do a website in a month—they want a day or multiple months, it turns out.) I’m going to be testing a new thing for a reduced price soon (so let me know if you’re interested in a strange but intriguing consulting service in my typical “get it done right now” vein).

Create a landing page in your email marketing tool and ask for interest. This is another one I do a lot, it’s kind of like a survey but is less paperwork feeling for people. I did this recently because I’m considering running a course or workshop for Squarespace designers interested in learning WordPress. This way you can create a survey with actual data plus you can let people interested know updates about the thing. Cool, right? (ConvertKit makes this dead simple, but you can do it in MailChimp too.)

Interview your favorite clients/customers/supporters about your idea. We’ve done this a lot as well, and has influenced our marketing substantially. I recommend giving them something that will help them as a thank you (I usually gift a strategy session or quick site audit). Coffee gift cards are also nice thank yous. Be prepared and make good use of their time.

How do you test your ideas? I’d love to add to this (with credit and a link) when I publish it on my website!

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