Perhaps the fastest way of achieving the success of a business is to get out of the building. Step away from your desk and office and get out into the world. Find out where your potential customers congregate. Interact with these potential customers, listen to their problems, and be a part of the solution.
One of best places to test your products for product/market fit is a trade show. The beauty of the trade show is that individual consumers and vendors pay a fee to attend for the purpose of locating and purchasing new products for themselves or their retail location. In other words, they attend the show to spend money and purchase your product, assuming it meets a need. With a cold call, the individual selling a product must approach the consumer and convince them to consider a product, a trade show is great in that consumers will come to your company booth and ask about your product, most times unsolicited.
I recently had the opportunity to support one of our portfolio companies, Get Sassie! at the International Cake Exploration Societe (ICES) trade show in Charlotte, NC. It was hard work getting to that point, however the results were tremendous:
1. Dramatic increase in sales.
2. Collection of a large number of opt-in contacts for future newsletters and promotions.
3. Increase in newsletter subscribers.
4. Increase in Web traffic and overall awareness.
5. Increase in social media engagement.
6. Made contact with several well known industry celebrities who expressed interest in product endorsements and/or potential partnerships.
7. Expedited the launch of a new product.
In hindsight, this event gave us a much better understanding of the industry and validated our product development and business model. In addition, we had received invaluable feedback on product use cases, the popularity of some products when compared to others, and product pricing.
None of this feedback would have been possible without getting out of the building.
Getting out of the building will not be easy. It’s that first step into the unknown. It feels much safer to remain in the office, research markets, engage in product development, and make contacts through the comfort of the office and familiar colleagues. However, taking that first step will either provide validation that your prior efforts were spot on, or that you will need to return back to iterating the product based on user feedback. The result will most likely be somewhere in between, some validation will be received and some product refinement may need to occur for optimizing for the end user.
In any case, get out of the building early and often.