The Right Moment to Put Your Value Proposition to the Test
Read time: 5 minutes
If you’re developing a product, concept testing is an important — if not essential — step. It’s easy to get stuck on an idea. There’s been much internal debate. You’ve brainstormed, discussed, whiteboarded, and decided that this value prop is this best. But is it? Before you get here, pause, and put it to the test. Will it resonate with potential customers? What are its strengths and weaknesses? How can it be improved?
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But when is the right time to pause? Test too early and potential customers will be scratching their head over what you are trying to convey. Test too late and you might get what would have been useful feedback about the best features and price if only you had asked before making your final decisions. Where, then, does customer validation fit in your product development workflow?
Think of your customers as advisors who will help you create the best possible product
The most important reason to test a concept is to gather valuable insight about new products and services from (potential) customers. It’s best to gather this insight either from those who will make the buying decision or from those who will influence these choices. These are the experts with first-hand experience of typical pain points. Your product concept will invariably benefit from their feedback — provided you ask early enough. Late testing can create confirmation bias and will then only serve to rubberstamp your existing idea(s).
Think of your value proposition as a hypothesis — or set of hypotheses — not as a stronghold
A concept is a written summary of your value proposition. At some point on your product development journey, it will be hugely beneficial to write down what you are promising and why you can be trusted to deliver. Brevity will be key. Think of it like an elevator pitch. If you cannot get your proposition across in less than 90 seconds, then it is probably lacking focus or clarity or both.
And, after all, it’s a proposition, not made to persuade, but to be tried and tested. The equivalent to a scientific hypothesis, it is created to gain fresh insights — not to defend old wisdom. Negative or mixed customer feedback must therefore not be confused with failure. Rather, it should be seen as on-time advice for optimization.
Five questions to check if your value proposition is ready for validation
Most companies have replaced traditional inside-out product development with customer-driven innovation. Very few firms deliberately decide against testing concepts with potential customers. But if they do, it’s likely because the right moment was missed. How do you know if your company is implementing customer validation into its development planning at the right time?
Here are five areas to help you identify the right moment to pause to apply concept testing concepts:
- Opportunity Assessment: Have you made up your mind that the target opportunity is worth pursuing? Or is your concept just a shot in the dark? You could test a concept before having done your opportunity assessment homework, but in most cases, it takes some time and effort to internally align on a value proposition and commit to a written summary. You probably want to do it only after you confirmed that it is an effort worth your while.
- Target Audience: Are you clear about which potential customers you want to address? Even though insights can be — and should be — used to fine-tune your target, it makes little sense to test before you have at least a general sense of who shall buy and use your product.
- Customer Pain Point(s): Are you clear about which unmet need you are addressing? A good concept leads customers to making a connection between your promise and their pain point. If customers fail to make that connection, then they are unlikely to invest in a new solution. The most common reason for a failed connection is a lack of pain-point clarity on the developer’s side.
- Written Summary: Has the value proposition been written down? A concise summary of the main product benefits and the reasons why customers should trust you to deliver will be your guide throughout the entire product development process. Internally, it will provide greater clarity and accelerate alignment. Externally, in concept testing, it is mandatory to provide a tangible stimulus to which survey respondents can respond.
- Ready to Launch: Are all go-to-market decisions made concerning product positioning, packaging, communication, and price? If yes, then why bother testing the concept now?
You can pause a product development plan and test your concepts when questions one to four can be answered with “yes” and the answer to question five is still a clear “no.”
Writing an effective concept description is as important as knowing when to test it.
Read our article Effective Concept Testing Requires a Well-Written Product Concept to learn more.
Read another GLG Applied article:
Getting Value-Based Pricing Right Is Difficult, But Worth It
About Bernd Grosserohde
With over 20 years of marketing research experience, Bernd Grosserohde has worked with many global companies on building stronger, more profitable products. His area of expertise covers choice modeling, segmentation, and other advanced analytics tools. Before joining GLG, Bernd held a position as Global Head of Pricing and Portfolio Management at Kantar. He is based in Hamburg, Germany.
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