A couple weeks ago, when I wrote about offers, I said: “It makes no sense to invest in your marketing until you know you have an offer that converts.”
“How do I know I have an offer that converts?” you might ask.
“Validation!” I’d answer.
Not the emotional kind of validation we’re all running around looking for so often.
I’m talking about logical, repeatable, “proving the accuracy of something” validation.
See, until it’s validated, an offer is basically a hypothesis.
You’re essentially saying, “I hypothesize that people will want to spend this amount of money on this combination of goods and services presented in this way.”
But you don’t KNOW. You’re really just guessing.
So… how do you test a hypothesis?
You design an experiment! 🧪️(My inner science nerd is gleeful right now 🤓)
If you’ve been successfully running your business for a while, then you’ve actually already been performing an experiment. Everything you’ve ever sold is evidence that people DO want to spend that money on that offer. We can play around with how we present it and maybe get more people to buy it. That’s where my StoryBrand copywriting magic comes in.
But what if the offer is brand new?
In that case, you’d do well to design a series of small experiments that will help you prove or disprove your hypothesis.
Here are a few methods for doing that:
- Painted door tests
This method probably isn’t realistic for most of our businesses, but if you have a lot of eyeballs on a website, you can use that to create a “painted door” to a new feature or product before actually building it. Basically, you create a link that promotes the new feature, but then have people land on a “coming soon” page. By seeing how many people click the link, you get data on how many people want the feature. Here’s a classic example of a business using that technique. And some other ways to use the same philosophy.
- Feedback coffee dates
For high-ticket service businesses, this is a good, simple, down-and-dirty way to start validating an offer. First, get clear with yourself about the hypothesized offer: what’s in the box, how it helps people, and what transformation they can expect. Then go through your phone contacts/email list/LinkedIn network, etc., and think of 10-20 people who *might* want to buy it. You don’t need to know if they do, just that they might. Reach out to them 1:1 and ask for a 20-30 minute coffee date (real or virtual) to catch up and get their feedback on something new you’re creating. Show up to the coffee date ready to be a human: relational and curious about their lives. At some point, tell them about the new offer you created and ask them what they think of it. Would it be useful to them? Do they know anyone they think it might help? If not, why isn’t it interesting to them? What’s their obstacle or objection?
Use the info you collect to refine your offer if needed.
If you get through 10+ of these calls and no one has actually wanted to buy your offer, then either it’s not a good offer, or you’re not presenting it to the right people. Time to re-evaluate! But at least you didn’t spend a lot of money on marketing!
- Laddered cohorts
This is great if you’re just getting started and figuring out yourself what you want to offer. Start by offering something for free or VERY cheap to a few people (2-5). Learn what you need to know about what you enjoy and don’t enjoy, what impact it has on people, etc. Collect testimonials and feedback. Then continue raising the price as you refine the offer on successive rounds of people.
I’m by no means an expert on offer creation and validation, and this is definitely not a comprehensive list. Offer validation is a whole rabbit hole world you can go down if you want.
The main thing I want you to take away, though, is that until an offer sells, it’s a hypothesis.
So: What experiments do you want to run?
PS – If you really want to nerd out on this stuff, check out the book “$100 Million Offers” by Alex Hormozi. 🤯
This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.