Mistake #4: Confusing “a cool idea” with a marketable idea

If you share your coaching business with people and they say “that’s so needed!” or “I love that idea…” well, that is super nice and supportive! When people say they love your business idea, it confirms that you have nice friends, and that is a wonderful thing; but it doesn’t qualify as market research.

Here’s why.

There are lots of cool ideas that people aren’t willing to pay for.

And there are lots of “needed” products and services that never sell. For example, lots of people “need” or “should” quit smoking or lose weight, but never do. Cuz they don’t wanna do the work. Need is only one small aspect of marketability. And it’s not nearly as important as what people want.

If my desire for a chocolate doughnut is stronger than my desire to get up early and go for a run, my desk is going to be covered in delicious chocolate crumbs and I’ll live to run another day. That’s why it’s easier to sell doughnuts than gym memberships! People want yummy pastries more than they want to work them off on a treadmill.

Make sure you validate that your target market is willing and able to pay for your product or service. Don’t assume that because they think it’s “cool” or “needed” your idea is going to make you millions. I’m going to say this again at the risk of sounding redundant because this is mission critical to your marketing: what people WANT is much more important than what people NEED.

The good news is, simple market research isn’t rocket science, and you can do it without spending a penny.

Please don’t skip this essential step in your marketing! Not doing market research is making a HUGE assumption about whether your business is viable in the market. (Translation: it’s an assumption that you will be able to make money.)

I’m not a gambler myself, but even if you have a badass poker face, gambling with your business is a risk you should avoid. Don’t. Do. It.

Three ways you can do simple market research to validate your business idea and strengthen your marketing:

  1. Current trends. How does your service fit into what’s going on in your community, and in the world? Does your service align with current trends? 
    For example, if you were going to open a gluten-free restaurant, that might align with the skyrocketing demand for gluten-free dining options since gluten intolerance and people’s awareness of this as a health concern is on the rise. 
  2. Customer research. Talk to some potential customers. Get their direct feedback on your services so you’re not assuming they’ll love it.

    By the way, when I say talk to potential customers, I mean talk to qualified leads who fit the profile of your ideal client. Don’t ask your Uncle Bill or your sister in law if they don’t fit your customer profile. Friends and family will want to be helpful if you ask them, but their answers won’t be useful if they don’t relate to the service you’re offering on a personal level. If you don’t get in front of the right people when you do your customer research, your data could steer your marketing in the wrong direction. So make it count!

    What do they like about the idea, and why? What would they find most valuable about your service or program? Ask them on a scale of 1-10 how important it is to solve the problem that your service would help them resolve. If it’s not that important to them (i.e., their desire is not strong), you might need to revisit your business idea. If they score 7 or higher – you’re probably on the right track. 
  3. Competitor research. Look at who else is offering a similar service. Is someone else already doing what you’re doing? Are they making money? Great! That’s an indication that there are people out there willing to pay for what you do.

    You can learn a boatload from your competitors – from their websites, marketing materials, and customer testimonials if they have any available. Better yet, try to find a competitor who is willing to talk to you directly about how they built their business. That alone can be a goldmine of information as you start or expand your business. You’d be surprised how many competitors are willing to talk with you and share their insights – so don’t be afraid to keep asking until someone says yes.


Take action!

  1. What actions will you take to validate your business idea?
  2. How will you use simple market research to strengthen your marketing?


Did you miss the beginning of the Marketing Mistakes series? You can read it here.