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How do you decide which idea to turn into a product?

Hey guys and gals. Happy Monday!

Here's a guest blog post from Erica Douglass from who I met at NAMS last month (August).

As you'll see in her bio, Erica is quite smart. Her business focus is different than mine and she hangs in different circles than I've been hanging, so I, of course, jumped when she offered me a guest post.

I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to leave a comment to show her the love and to help me attract more smart people to post here.

Not Your Typical Internet Marketing Advice:
Think Backwards!

by Erica Douglass

How do you decide which idea to turn into a product?

Most people start from thinking about what they like (their interests or “passions”.) Then they create a product based around it, create a website, create a sales page. They follow the best Internet marketing techniques…but the product doesn't sell.

Why does this happen? And how can you prevent this from happening to you?

The #1 Mistake Most Business Owners Make

The #1 mistake most small business owners make is that they haven't done enough market research before launching a product. It's awfully hard to sell a niche product if there's just no one out there looking for the information you want to sell.

In this article, I will show you how to do some straightforward and simple market research to ensure there's a market for your product–so you don't waste your time creating a product that no one wants to buy.

In my case (and perhaps yours) there are so many products I could create that I have to do market research to narrow down a niche. If you feel the opposite way–that you're not sure what product you could create, if any–market research may help you find a niche you never thought of.

How Do You Do Market Research?

I do market research first–I don't even buy a domain name until I make sure there's a market for the product.

My market research tool of choice is the Google Keyword Tool. (Note that, unfortunately, Google has two different versions of its keyword tool. Search “keyword tool external” on Google to find the better one.) The Google keyword tool will show you what keywords people are searching for in Google.

Start out by typing in a generic term. In my case, that's something like “blogging” or “business”. Then check out what comes up–what people are searching for. Look for people who have questions–since your product will provide answers.

I then sort by “Global Monthly Searches” to see which keyword phrases are the most popular. Usually, I look for a keyword (or set of similar keywords) with between 1,000-100,000 searches per month. And I'm looking for a specific problem I can help people solve. (Remember that the Google keyword tool has multiple pages; if you type in a word like “business”, you may have to go to the second or third page of results to find more keywords.

Finding a Business Idea in a Sea of Keywords

For instance, one that stands out for me when typing in “business” is the keyword “write a business plan.” This might be something people would buy a product about. It's a pain point for many businesses, and you could probably do a pretty good business selling a product to help people write business plans or even coaching people on it.

But this term is still pretty generic. So, to drill down a bit, I then copy and paste that “broad” keyword phrase back in the “Find Keywords” box in the Google keyword tool. Since you can type in multiple keywords, I also select some similar keywords, such as business plan example, how to write a business plan, and restaurant business plan (a nice targeted keyphrase). I put one keyphrase on each line in the Google keyword tool and hit Search again.

Narrowing Down Your Niche–and Voila!

This time, I scroll down on the left side and select “[Exact]” instead of “Broad” match. The difference is that Exact shows the number of people who typed in exactly that phrase (i.e. they specifically typed in restaurant business plan) and Broad shows you people who typed in those keywords in any order, and with some amount of keywords other than those. So, Broad may count people who also typed in architecture plan for my restaurant business or plan to open a restaurant business.

Exact, then, gives you a better idea of what phrases to optimize your website for. I start with a Broad search to find general business ideas, then drill down to Exact when it comes time to optimize my site.

Going back to the keyword tool, we find that [how to write a business plan] (exact) is searched over 33,000 times a month. Voila–we've discovered a business idea! But there are other interesting business ideas here too. How about [hair salon business plan] at 1,600 searches per month? That's a nice little niche for a business. Remember to explore the smaller keyphrases, too–if you're ranked #1 for only one of these phrases, it can be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars a month to you in product sales.

Think backwards when you create your next product. Instead of searching your head and getting increasingly frustrated about what you could possibly create a product about, search the Google keyword tool and get ideas from what other people want to buy. Thinking backwards will start you off on the right track when you create your next product!

About the Author: After selling her online business for $1,100,000.00 at age 26, Erica Douglass “temporarily retired.” She now gives you tips on starting your own business via her website at Download her free Blog Success Manifesto–a must-have free book for those who own a blog or want to start one. It contains 30 tactical tips to grow your blog faster than you ever have before!

I appreciate shares and I adore comments! Please share your thoughts.

  • Rob Pene

    Nice job Erica, as always 🙂

    I heard Clay Collins mention something similar to what you suggested here…he said something to the effect of finding what people are buying or searching for and then creating a product from that first, rather than going down the “passion” product route because not many people may be searching for your “passion” product…

    I’m going to start doing a niche site soon and will definitely start with keywords and searching/researching first before I start on anything else.


    • Nicole

      Agreed. It is a lot easier to sell a product when people are holding out their hands with cash in them, looking for somewhere to spend it. 🙂

  • Joseph

    Nice explanation indeed. I like the idea of finding a need in the market to make sure it’s actually there.

    One question though, it seems you’d have to be somewhat of a jack of all trades to discover business ideas this way. In the example, what would the product be? An e-book with advice? A site with a ton of information and advertisements praying for clicks?

  • Sheila Atwood

    Thank you – this article sparked some new ideas, just when I needed a new idea! Plus now I have one that I know the public really wants.

  • Danielle

    My accountability partner and I are finishing up an ebook about accountability partners, of all things! It is so much work to get all the details done to have it ready to launch!

    Market research can save you so much work. Yet sometimes it is really easy to forget about this step!

    Thanks for this great post!

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