January 11, 2017

When every potential customer or client sees your ad, photo, video, or offer they ask themselves two questions:

  • Do I need or want this?
  • Why should I get it from you?

The secret to instant and lasting validation is to answer those two questions. Let’s dig a little deeper into this, so you will know, exactly, how to validate your start-up, and bring in orders.

Your potential customers fall into two categories, and you must speak to both. Some potential customers and clients are currently in the market for what you are selling, so they ask themselves those questions almost out loud.

Potential customers who are not ready and willing to buy now, still ask those questions but they ask them somewhere in the back of their mind. Your goal is to get them to stay interested enough, so when they are ready to buy, they buy from you.

Here are the two primary ways you achieve that goal of getting orders now, and getting orders later:

1. Solve the buyer’s problem.

What is your product or service’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What does it do that your customer wants done? (That’s what your customer wants done, not what you think they want done.) 

Attract your potential customer by hitting them with a problem they want solved. Then rub it in – this is how bad it gets when you don’t solve the problem. The solution to the problem - and to stop it getting worse - is to buy now or to learn more so you will make the right decision later.

Then offer one or two calls to action.

  • One for those who want to buy now, and
  • One for those who want to learn more about how what you are selling will do for them what they want done – so they will stay involved, and buy when they are ready.

I asked our client Devin Eldridge with a few questions about this:  

Stow is a marketplace for peer-to-peer based storage.  I have my garage space listed on their platform which helped me find a person to rent the unused space to.

He said their USP was helping users find storage nearby and available. In the earlier stages, they confirmed that this was a problem for others by reading about the industry after having their own struggles when moving. Devin said, "Supply lacks demand in geographical areas when there's a boom, like Denver." They  also did several informal interviews and a survey that had 30-40 responses but really urged other entrepreneurs to make sure they understand the industry.

2. Personas: Speak direct to the person you want to win over.

The biggest mistake most new business owners make is that they are so convinced their product or service is superior to established competitors, that they “just know” that “everyone” will buy it, so they advertise to that mythical “everyone” person.

Do me a big favor:  Don't do that.

Let’s just take one market sector – Millennials. There are about 75 million Millennials in the USA. They can be divided into groups that are turned on by certain marketing approaches. They are also turned off by the wrong approach.

Here’s the thing – some groups are turned on by what turns other groups off.

These groups are called Buyer Personas.  There are about 12 different Millennial Buyer Personas – the Boss Babe, the Exuberant, the Nostalgic, the Travel Enthusiast – just to name four. If you want to validate your business, your product or your service, then you must know what turns each persona on – and what turns them off.

When was the last time you saw a man lotioning his hairy legs at the strip club trying to find a serious girlfriend? Not the best way to market your assets, gents.  Or your startup.

Direct your marketing message at the persona. This answers the second question – “Why should I get it from you?”

3. How to Maximize Your Validation

To really attract and involve your different personas – and to keep them involved – ask them for feedback. Millennials, for example, love the experience of using a product or service, rather than the product or service, itself.

Ask your followers to send in, and to share, their experiences. This resonates with others who share the same persona. It also gives you perfect feedback, so you know exactly how to focus your marketing to get the greatest response next time.

The way Devin did this in the early days before they had an app was with craigslist! He started connecting people on craigslist who needed storage with people who were offering storage before building the app to maximize his validation. Then, they they launched a website where they could simply submit their requests for storage (time, size, etc).  Then, they launched in the app store.

So remember – successful entrepreneurs sell what their customers want.

They may sell the same thing, but it feels different to each different customer. That is validity.

​If you would like to brainstorm for 20 minutes with me on your marketplace idea, please find 20 min with me here so I can answer your questions.  Let's discuss your needs, help you create your footprint, win orders and validate your business.


Originally posted at

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