The best products are rarely created in a straightforward fashion – from conception to fruition. If anything, entrepreneurs often find the “magic formula” only after several failed attempts.

Problem is every phase of trial and error costs a lot of time, energy and money. So the sooner you get it right, the better. The secret to get to that Eureka moment faster? Listening to your target market, rather than simply going with your guts.

Chances are your audience are telling you what they need – you just don’t realise it or don’t know how to access this information. But when you start listening to them, you get a better sense of direction. To achieve this, here are some ways to let the market tell you what it needs:

  1. Start a crowdfunding campaign

Running a campaign is not only an effective way to raise capital but also a good way to get early validation for your product idea. It takes a lot of work to crowdfund your idea, but a successful campaign can provide a valid proof of demand. Well, what better proof is there other than people who are willing to dig into their pockets to pay for your product concept?

  1. Consider licensing your idea

Similar to crowdfunding, submitting your idea to potential licensees is a smart way of getting early feedback. Sometimes it takes another set of eyes to gauge the value and effectiveness of a product, setting aside any biases the creator might have.

If your submission is turned, there will most definitely be a reason for it. If it happens, be sure to ask why the company is not buying the idea. Then use their feedback to revamp and polish your idea.

  1. Conduct a survey

Conducting a survey remains to be one of the best ways to gather customer insight on a new design or product, simply because it works.

There are many ways to do it. You can display a prototype of your design or product inside your store or post a photo of it on social media. Then you can explicitly ask your customers and fans for their opinion of it. You might be surprised to find your initial assumptions about your product are the opposite of what your audience thinks. Needless to say, their input is crucial to your success.

  1. Check out your reviews

A lot of customers post reviews or leave comments when they are happy or disgruntled with a product. These reviews hold valuable information that may reveal what it is exactly that your customers value, what they wish were different, what they are frustrated with and so on.

Don’t have reviews yet? Entice customers to leave a review online and give them plenty of reasons to say something nice about your business, e.g. good customer service, great product quality, and so on.

  1. Check other existing products

Smart entrepreneurs always have their one eye on the competition. This helps them to differentiate their product and stay ahead of the game.

Whether you do your research online or you walk a trade show, take inventory of what’s already out there. Find out what’s popular and why it attracts so much attention. At the same time, you can also showcase your produce – or a prototype of your idea – to see how people respond to it. Are they excited about it?

Conclusion

Failures provide lessons and opportunities to get it right. But in a fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, you can’t afford to keep failing. So take the initiative to seek out answers directly from your potential customers to help move your business forward.