March 29, 2017
About the author : Joni holds a PhD in marketing. He is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at Qatar Computing Research Institute and Turku School of Economics. Contact: joolsa (at) utu.fi
EDIT: Updated by adding competitive analysis, very important to benchmark competitors.
EDIT2: Updated by adding experimentation (14th April, 2016)
Somebody on Quora was asking about ‘tools’ for validating viability and demand for a startup’s products.
I replied it’s not a question of tools, but plain old market research (which seems to be all too often ignored by startup founders).
In brief, I’d include the following options to a startup market research plan:
So, there. Some of the methods are “old school”, but some — such as crowdfunding are newer ways to collect useful market feedback. Experimentation, although it may appear novel, is actually super old school. For example, one of the great pioneers of advertising, Claude Hopkins, talked about ad testing and conversion optimization already in the 1920. (You can actually download his excellent book, “Scientific advertising“, for free.)
The optimal plan would include both macro- and micro-level studies to get both the “helicopter view” and the micro-level understanding needed for product adoption. Which methods to to include in your market research plan depends on the type of business. For example, crowdfunding can be seen as a market validation method most suitable for B2C companies and customer development for B2B companies.
The most important point is that you, as a startup founder, don’t get lured into the ‘tool fallacy’ — there’s no tool to compensate for the lack of genuine customer understanding.
Dr. Joni Salminen holds a PhD in marketing from the Turku School of Economics. His research interests relate to startups, platforms, and digital marketing.
Contact email: [email protected]