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When To Test Your Ideas And When To Check In To Your Creative Cave

Test Your Great Ideas

You want to create or launch something – maybe you want to test your ideas before you spend time working on them.

And when you’re just not sure it’s a good idea – it’s smart to ask will people like it – is it launch worthy and will anyone be interested enough in your thing to buy it?

So you keep thinking and thinking and thinking.

And not doing.

First of all – you know how I feel about this daydreaming mode.

Sure feels good – but it’s getting you nowhere.

Instead of sitting in this state of inaction – let’s talk about the problem and answer your question and take a step in the right direction.

Do you always have to test your ideas before you create?

Short answer: not necessarily.

First – let’s talk about why and how you WOULD test your ideas before going into full product creation mode – especially if you’re crunched for time and resources.

Disclaimer: spending 6 months in your creative cave is fun. I won’t knock that experience.

And if you have the time, a somewhat established audience, and a consistent way you are communicating with everyone – then great. Don’t bother testing. Go into the cave – come out from time to time and tell people what you’re up to…then go back to creating.

Testing is not covering your ass. Not in my book anyways.

Testing is being willing to develop an idea to a point where you can share something about it to other people, find out how they react, if there’s excitement, and then resume or make a slight adjustment.

Testing is useful if you have no idea of the value of your idea to your audience.

Testing is a reality for many beginning entrepreneurs. You’re still:

→Defining your audience
→Figuring out what you want to offer
→Figuring out how to manage it all
→Summoning the courage to get put yourself out there

There’s nothing worse than putting something out to the world with no clue if people even want or need what you’re putting out there.

You value the information…maybe your accountability partner does too – but the question really needs to be answered by your readers, your subscribers, your tribe.

The most important thing you do before any of these tests is this: know who you are targeting with this idea.

Even if it’s a free ebook or a free webinar or a free whatever – you need to have a clear person in mind when you’re testing or marketing anything.
My little uber imperfect targeting trick

Here’s a novel idea – make a somewhat educated guess who you are offering something to. I know, guess…sounds really scientific.

When I was launching Fearless Launching – I had a vague idea of who it was for – and I took an audience from a few other online courses – and thought – ok this is their next step.

So, I found my who (well, to be fair…my starting who) in another person’s market and said – I want people to come take my course after they do x, y, or z.

That was enough for me. Most of the people the first time around fit into that category.

Try it – pick another program or maybe another business who serves your same audience, especially if your offer is something they’d buy before or after what they buy what said established business.

Time to test your offer

The easiest ways to find out if anyone will be interested in what you want to create are so simple and will require only one thing – you to get off your computer a little bit.

1. Be obvious: Ask your subscribers, fans, followers, contacts – hey do you need something like this?

I know it sounds too straightforward – maybe a little too direct, but honestly when you start selling your services, your products to people – you can’t beat around the bush.

You can’t be all vague and hope they’re like–”OMG I must buy whatever they are selling even though I’m not sure they are selling anything. Wait, maybe they are selling something.”

2. Get people involved: Ask a small group of your subscribers – people who always comment, share your work on social media, email you – ask them if they’ll be part of the development of it.

This allows you to stop working in the vacuum that may have led to this testing in the first place.

3. Take it to the street: Forget online surveys, forget monitoring social media. Call 5 people each week and talk about your idea – ask them to ask you questions – tell them to challenge your idea and give you any and all info that’s coming up. If you find your first 5 honest people to tell you what they think – find 5 more… keep talking to people.

4. Find beta testers: Create a mini version of your offer.

Take a few people you trust through the program, service, or let them review it.  Get their feedback and then make the decision.

Your idea will shift and reshape a little bit as you listen to the people who will benefit from the finished “thing” you want to develop.

Note: For those who don’t want the opinion of others when they create.

I’ve always been the type of person that needs to create something on my own – and mostly keep it to myself until it’s ready for the world. Term papers, final thesis, final film… I liked to hold my cards close to my chest – I wanted the world to wait for my genius.

But I know that it isn’t always smart to do that, so I’ve learned to share my work with at least a few people before it hits the streets.

And – you’re not doomed if you choose this path – I know artists like to think they are doing the craft for themselves… but c’mon people. You want your voice heard. So speak … to someone.

If you want to stay in the cave, have your big reveal or big coming out…

Try at least listening to the rumbling of what people are resonating with – to get hints… not give you your course – but to inspire you.

So – if you choose not to survey, not to ask real live humans, not to tease what you’re working on to others – know that you should at least keep real live humans in mind while you’re working on your masterpiece.

Sometimes your best work will come from shutting out the voices around you, but you do still need to keep your voice focused on someone.

Wayne Dyer said this in a book – and I always remember it – “Your opinion of me is none of my business…” but I always add, “but I kind of want to know” to the end of that sentence.

Apply that to your work and you’ll stay true to the message you want to put out to the world AND keep the outside world in mind.

Decision time: Are you going to test or not?

Leave a comment below and tell me –

Do you like going into a cave to create your masterpieces?
Or do you like a more collaborative process where people give you feedback?

Has your method worked for you? Did you end up getting the results, attention, make the money, you wanted or not?

Can’t wait to hear about your process!

 image credit: The Wandering Angel

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Leave An AWESOME Comment

{ 18 comments… read them below }

  1. Cindi Schultz December 5, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    You’re preaching it Anne! It’s a tough loop to get out of, thanks for a great post!!

    • annesamoilov December 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      I think finding the balance – finding times when you do need to reach out for feedback – and also looking for someone you trust to give you honest feedback – that’s the way to go.

      There are still times when I want to hole up in my office, write 6 months of posts and then not show them to a soul until they are published.

      Pick the times that it’s important to know you are hitting the mark.

    • annesamoilov December 6, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      Glad you enjoyed it Cindi! How do you feel about testing your ideas?

  2. Vanessa Scotto December 5, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    I think you make great points Anne. I love being in my creative cave and I abhor showing my work to people and testing the market. Somehow it strangely feels more vulnerable to show something I care about in progress and get feedback on whether to build or ditch it than it does to show someone once it’s packaged up. Huh, maybe that says something about me!! LOL. However I can say from being in business for over 15 years that the actuality of pouring yourself into a project that has no market for it is worse than daring to test your ideas out on some people before launching into high-gear. I think I’ll take that on for my 2013 launch. Thanks!

    • annesamoilov December 6, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      Here here… that last part is why it’s sometimes dangerous to be in the cave 24/7. Imagine how much time we can waste or feel that is wasted when we emerge ready to release our genius to the world… then no one responds. That’s a bigger ouchie than actually talking to people and finding out what they think about your idea before you’ve poured yourself into it!

  3. Sue Ann Gleason December 5, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    More and more my content creation is coming from a place of “inner knowing” but I also like to “test” it out with complimentary one-on-ones to help inform the process. What I’m discovering in this process is that the people who are coming along for the ride may, indeed, become my best advocates when the program launches. That was an unexpected yet delightful perk. And yes, I love creating in my cave!!!! With plenty of chocolate.

    • annesamoilov December 6, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Sue – I also like finding interesting ways to test ideas. Sometimes I will test just like you – bring people through the process of what I want to create – for me it’s usually a program or new offering. If it works for them and I love it too – then we have a winner. I know it can be dangerous to listen too much to other people but I think there’s amazing value in sharing your ideas, fleshing them out and then revising them outside your head! xoAnne

  4. Iviana Bynum December 5, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Anne, you are so right! Testing really is good. I was one of those who didn’t want to ask my audience simply because I was too scared. Ever since I got clear on asking them, I’ve gotten insights that I never would have thought of myself. Now that I’m in product creation mode, I have a more clear way to deliver my content and touch on the topics that are most important to them.

    • annesamoilov December 6, 2012 at 9:48 am #

      OMG! I totally know what you’re talking about – being scared of asking. It’s funny once you get over that and find out that not only are you talking to the right people, you realize you aren’t so far off the path and now can get even more lasered in on what to create – for them. Thank you for stopping by! xoAnne

  5. Lisa Yuan December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    I was just talking about this with a friend and I realized, I just need to create. I know that the moment I create it, I can get feedback and start tweaking it to create an awesome product. So I’m gonna go into my cave. I’ll let you know the results when I come back out. :)g

  6. Tifanie December 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Great post! Very timely for me…

    I like to pre-test. I’ve done complimentary consults and right now everyone on my list got to try my newest training course, Inbox Sanity, for free. I think pre-testing is a win-win – people get to be a part of the development of something (for a great price) and you get valuable insight.

    But if you choose to launch something without testing it along the way, then the launch itself is still a test 🙂

  7. Sarah December 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I love this topic thanks for a great post. I really like testing in real time when a project is new, so taking a project out into the world as soon as possible. It can be scary yet I find a big reveal way to adrenaline charged & stressful. I found I get over myself faster by just doing it, giving it a go and going from there. I get to experience it, research it & market it all at the same time. Having said that I envy those who are able to work away at something till its really polished.

  8. Karen Skidmore December 6, 2012 at 3:42 am #

    Great timing this post, thank you. You’ve just reminded I wanted to run a trial webinar in the New Year based on the topic of a new product I wanted to created. I was so focused on other stuff, I completely forget about it. Nothing like putting your idea out so that people know you are up to something … then I have to follow through and do it :O) (at least, that’s I work!)

  9. Donna December 6, 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Great tips – especially the min-beta test. I am kind of doing that by starting a group of VIP clients and subscribers that I am testing for a membership program as it evolves but in the meantime they are a great source of sharing, ideas, and testimonials for me! Thanks for sharing your great ideas as always.

    • annesamoilov December 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Donna – so glad to hear that the testing is working for you! I’d love to know what evolves in your program as a result of the VIP clients!

  10. Gabe Johansson December 8, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Hey Anne,

    I’m definitely a cave man (lol)!

    I’ve worked on so many side projects that no one has ever seen because I didn’t think they were good enough. I eventually get back to them and revamp them if they had potential, but I don’t like outside opinions on my own work.

    I had this weird technique of learning what my competitors’ customers were really wanting and lacking by researching in forums and social media, so when I launched my first video course I got a ton of positive response without asking anyone’s opinion before releasing it.

    Thanks for the great post and now I have to get back to work! 🙂
    -Gabe Johansson

  11. Devani December 28, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    I love this! I do so much better when getting feedback, even if it isn’t what I want to hear. I need to do more asking, thank you for the push!

  12. Deadra December 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Great post, really enjoyed it!
    — Deadra