Create online products that sell using proven steps
As counterintuitive as it may seem, one of the last steps when building an online product is to actually create the product. Most of us find ourselves following the wrong steps to launch really great products. Erroneously, we tend to do the following:
- Come up with a great idea
- Justify that it solves a big problem and serves a huge market
- Start creating an awesome website, app or digital product
- Add more exceptional features with minimal to no user testing
- Launch it, but rarely promote it after that
- View the analytics and realize it’s not getting the traction it deserves
- Change focus to that other great idea we have. That one is a sure winner!
- Repeat these steps over and over again
We apply the same fleeting hope to each new project and follow the same misleading steps only to wonder why we’re not succeeding.
Stop Creating Products
If you’ve been through this process once, twice or many times before, it’s time to shift gears. The right way to begin creating online products that sell is to not create a product at all. At least initially. Creating products takes time and effort. That time and effort is better spent validating your product idea. But how do you do that? Don’t you at least have to create the framework of an MVP in order to start getting user feedback? The answer is NO. Stop thinking that’s the best way to proceed. You’re wasting valuable time. If you’re a brand new startup and have yet to attract a following of people willing to test out your MVP then you have an even bigger problem. You find yourself following the 8 steps to a doomed product listed above and expect success when you’re really setting yourself up for failure. When you get to step 5 where you launch it to your people, you realize you haven’t put the time and effort into finding the people who are interested in your product in the first place. You’ve built this widget that’s first of its kind, super amazing, and solves this big problem, but you have few people to tell about it. Sure, you can blast the internet, but without putting in the work upfront, few will listen. So you launch it to the people you do have, which are your friends, family and followers. Your mom responds and says “It’s wonderful, dear”, but she doesn’t really understand what it does at all. She’s not your target audience, but she does love you.
Measure Interest & Develop Your Market
It can feel like a catch-22. To measure interest in your product you have to find people interested in your product, your target market. If you spend all of your time developing your product without any time spent developing the people that are potentially interested in your product, then you might as well stay on the 8 steps to doom train. Most startup literature bypasses the whole process of finding your target market.
“The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere. All successful startup processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.” – Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
Customers? What customers? I have an MVP almost ready to launch and I’m searching high and low for people to give me quality feedback. Where are these customers you speak of? Are you assuming I’ve already launched a successful product or have an existing company from which to lean on my vast existing customer base? Because I don’t. Why does everyone skip this step and go straight to product launch?
Following the 8 steps to startup doom leaves you with two big problems. You’ve inefficiently wasted time and energy on an untested solution to a problem that may not even exist. Now you’re ready to launch and have no interested parties to launch it to. Congratulations! If you’d like to continue the insanity and never escape this infinite loop that produces zero tangible results then please start over again at step #1. Usually, we’re excited to start over again because it’s comfortable. It’s what we know.
Proven steps to create successful online products
Let’s stop the insanity and start launching successful online products. Let’s follow a methodology that works. A series of steps that breaks you free of the time wasting infinite loop of doom while at the same time attracting your target market to your innovations. The fastest, most efficient way to do that is simply by publishing your ideas. It’s by blogging about your future products. It’s creating those keyword rich, SEO posts that attract a target market to your ideas. The purpose of the blog is not to promote your initial product with an MVP, but rather to verify market viability for your idea(s). This blog is case in point. There’s nothing more I’d like to do right now than to start coding innovative websites, apps, plugins, etc. that will help your online startup make more money. I want to jump into coding right now, but my logical side says not to do that because I know those are the creature comforts of the 8 steps of doom.
The Step by Step Online Startup Guide
Go against the inclination to sit behind your keyboard and crank out code. Instead, do something that makes us introverts shudder. Actually interact with people. After all, isn’t that why you’re developing in the first place? So other people can use your digital creations? Typically, what we find ourselves doing is creating first and then trying to get our new product in front of people. That fails much more often than not. What we should be doing is getting in front of people first to understand their pain points and then create products that reduce the pain. Pain can be any number of things from a lack of time to a lack of understanding that leads to frustration. Your job is to first understand the pain and then to create something that alleviates it. We waste a lot of time and effort when we assume we understand the pain points without actually testing our assumptions.
We need both qualitative and quantitative input to keep us on the right path. There is nothing more I would like to do right now than to code the ideas I have that would definitely help your online startup. The only thing is that I don’t know for sure that they would actually help. So it’s better to start off by first connecting with you to float my ideas and measure the interaction. The quantitative input is visible in site analytics. How many people visited the site? What pages did they view? What did they click? How did they flow through the site? This analytical feedback provides insight into their intentions. It’s one thing if their intentions are not aligned with what the site has to offer and they quickly exit. It’s another thing if the site offers what they are seeking, but doesn’t deliver due to poor design, poor communication or even poor flow. All of these metrics can be tracked via analytics, which should absolutely be part of your toolkit.
Qualitative feedback is just as important. It’s the other half of the equation. While analytics provides the quantitative measurements via logical sources, the qualitative measurements are captured from user sentiment. It’s imperative to have your audience respond via comments, polls, newsletters and other types of interaction.
There are a lot of things to accomplish before making that first dollar, but the money comes when you follow an efficient process. It is earned. It doesn’t come by accident. And it is very repeatable. Focus on building the foundation through a proven process. Follow this step by step online startup guide to create successful online products that generate income.