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Doug Richard: How to find out if your product will sell

by Camilla

How to find out if your product will sell

Creating a new product can involves lots of expense and time, so it makes sense to test the market and see if the demand is there for it first. Creative business guru and original Dragon’s Den investor Doug Richard advises Diana Stainton from Pygmy Cloud on the best ways to test your market.



Hi Doug. I would like to know the best way to test the market for products before investing in the equipment needed to speed up productivity.

– Diana Stainton from Pygmy Cloud

Hi Diana,

Testing the market for a product or service before you invest a lot in it is a very, very smart thing to do. Before testing your product you should know everything about its competitors and how they are sold and priced. Every product has competitors and often studying the competition is the fastest way to figure out the right price, how to reach the target market you want to sell to quickly, what features people care the most about, etc. Make sure you ask as many questions as possible about your product and theirs. And get honest, objective views, ideally not from friends or family.

Once you think you’ve designed a product or service that the target market will like and which you can produce profitably, you can start testing it…

To jump on a prevalent trend, you can try a few pop-up shops/stalls where you can meet your target market face to face in the right frame of mind. Be prepared with sample products and brochures, and get their feedback. Meeting customers in person lets you honestly gauge their level of interest, ask questions about pricing and take pre-orders for what you plan to sell.

Another way to test the market is to create a website or online shop for your product or service. You’re already one step ahead with your Folksy shop. Online marketplaces like Folksy are ideal as they offer the perfect opportunity to test the market and product ideas at low cost and to an established audience. As you have a small but well-rounded range at the moment, you can take this opportunity to encourage feedback before investing in greater production.

To test new ideas and get feedback on your current stock, ask people for their feedback or to register their interest in new products via a simple, prominent message on your page. You can incentivise this by offering a discount if people give you their email address or feedback. You can then run ads on Facebook, Google and elsewhere that point members of your target market to this page.

Make sure you’re monitoring the numbers of people visiting your shop and those converting to leaving their details and feedback. That will give you a general idea of how hungry the wider market is for what you sell. You’ll also have a ready made set of customers who are so eager to have your product that they’re willing to provide their email address. Treated right, these can go on to be huge advocates of yours.

If you want to take it a step further, you can approach shops you would like to sell to and get the buyer’s critique. These meetings can be mightily difficult to secure but persistence and a well-targeted, personal approach can pay off. If the buyers are interested you can get bulk orders this way and capitalise on the caché and their marketing channels.

If after all this you’ve got a really solid gauge on reaction, reward crowdfunding sites are a great way to sell your product before it’s made, fund the production and generate a further community of customers/advocates. Be sure to differentiate between reward and equity crowdfunding – Kickstarter and Indiegogo are prominent reward sites. Once you know you’re going forward, and your product description and pitch sell, crowdfunding is easy. In effect, it’s just presales.

Remember, you must register your design or otherwise protect your work before you show it to lots of people. Failure to do this might end up with someone else registering your design or trademarks, which would prevent you from using them and that would be a huge shame.

Good luck with your enterprise.



 Visit Diana’s shop Pygmy Cloud on Folksy >>

(Featured image: Coasters by Pygmy Cloud)


If you have a business dilemma, tweet us using the hashtag #whatwoulddougdo or email us at community@folksy.co.uk and you might just get a response tailor-made for you.  

Doug Richard is the founder of School for Creative Startups which offers interactive, hands-on courses delivering no-nonsense business know-how for creative people. You can follow @creatives4s to receive daily pearls of wisdom for creative entrepreneurs.

Doug Richard, Creative Business Advice, business advice for designers and makers, British creatives, school for start ups

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