What is Proof of Concept?
Ordered a small quantity of product and created an event to test the viability of the product. The goal is to get in front of an audience of people who should be interested, and to get their response in a bankable way – so we’re looking for sales
We test to see:
Do people like it?
Will people buy it?
What will they pay?
Why we did it
This is a step many people skip, yet it’s one of the most valuable things you can do as you’re setting up your business or even launching a new product line.
At the very least, it will give you a chance to tweak your product, your pricing, or your messaging before you’re fully invested.
At the other end of the spectrum, testing for proof of concept can prevent you from wasting years and thousands of dollars trying to sell a product that doesn’t have enough demand.
I’ve seen too many people lose too much money by charging ahead – ordering all their product, investing in a website, and spending money on ads, only to see their products, and their dreams sit on the shelf.
Some people don’t do it because they don’t know they should. Some people are so confident, they don’t think they need to do it, and others neglect to do it because they think it might make them look unprofessional, or like they’re unsure of what they’re doing.
But here’s the thing. Getting Proof of Concept is the best thing!
When you show product to people who aren’t your mom, your friend, or your sister, and they buy it, you know for sure you’re on the right track.
I’m pretty good at marketing products online. I know that I can set up a plan to sell pretty much anything.
I know I can teach most people to sell pretty much anything
But what I didn’t know was this:
Would people buy socks with weiner dogs on them? (or Corgis, or Poodles)
And what would they pay?
And so even though I’ve done this all before, I wouldn’t skip the proof of concept stage.
There are several ways to get Proof of Concept. More on that later.
We used a collaboration for our event. And the reason I choose to do it that way was that the most important thing about proof of concept events is the audience. It’s imperative that you get your product in front of people who are likely your ideal client.
What we did:
Because I’m selling socks for people who love dogs – our socks have dogs on them, I chose to work with Mark Rusin, who owns Americandoxie.com
Mark has exactly the audience I’m looking to attract, so when I decided I would make the socks, I approached Mark.
Because I’m starting at zero, I asked Mark to participate in the design process.
I feel like this made sense (he knows what his audience likes) and the strategy is repeatable when I move into other breeds.
Remember, all I’m looking to do is prove the concept and test the price.
The first thing we did was build a launch list.
We used a version of The Perfect Giveaway, a lesson from the Inner Circle training. It’s the best list building event. I used it all the time at Wee Squeak, and our members love it because it helps them build their lists fast.
We launched the Giveaway on October 20th.
Here are a few samples:
We increased the reach by sending samples to two American Doxie Brand Reps. They created some content that was shared with their audiences.
We were so successful with our Brand Rep Program at Wee Squeak, we created Brand Rep training in the Inner Circle.
If you haven’t used Brand Reps before, I highly encourage you to give it a try.
We amplified the reach on the Giveaway by running some ads.
In total, the cost of running the ads was $119.67
The giveaway ran from October 20th through October 24th.
In total we collected 1608 email addresses.
On October 25th, the products went live on American Doxie.
An email went out to the Giveaway list first with an offer:
“Buy a Box of 3 Doxie Socks, and receive a bonus pair free”
A second email went out to the complete American Doxie engaged email list.
A short funnel of three emails (Perfect Giveaway style) went out to the lists.
And here’s what happened:
And because our sales are always the SUM of ALL of our actions…
Here’s what REALLY happened:
Here’s what I learned:
My goal was always to get proof that people would buy our socks.
And I needed to know that they would actually pay a price that defined our product as a “want” because perceived value is a key for those of us that are selling items that are a “need”.
More on that here.
I know if I do the work to build my audience and I make them an offer, this is the right product.
I can invest in my website, and in more product with confidence that I have a good concept.
Now the real work begins.
Stay tuned. I’ll share my next steps shortly.
Here’s what you can take away from this:
I ran this collaboration because I wanted proof of concept.
But here’s the thing. If you want to grow your business, you’d be smart to think about audiences and specifically WHO has an audience that might be interested in your product.
While this might seem overwhelming, and you may not know where to start, I promise you, it’s not that hard.
There has never been a better a time to find the perfect audience, and negotiate a collaboration that will get you access.
And while I know this is true for getting Proof of Concept, I believe it is also true for when you want to find new customers.
I’ll be talking more about this, and sharing the dollars and cents of how I put together this collaboration with Mark at American Doxie, in an upcoming post.
For now, a big THANK YOU to the team at American Doxie, and another big THANK YOU to you for sticking with me on this adventure!
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If you have questions, comment below and ask me!
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That’s it! It will be a fun adventure, all the way from 0 to $50K on Shopify!