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8 Tips to test your new product or service

When I first thought about doing a beta-test of my new online course “From Your Passion to Your Business”, I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. I knew this process would have taken at least a month, I had no idea about the quality of the feedback I could receive from people I did not know, I even thought that giving the course free to so many potential customers wasn’t a wise idea. On the other hand, my priority was creating a high quality course that could be really helpful to all those people (and there are loads), who dream about creating their own business, but don’t know whether their idea has potential and/or do not know where to start. Hence, I went for it…

… and now I am so happy I did it! Why? First, my self-confidence has increased “a ton” thanks to the positive reaction of my testers to the course. Second, the quality of the feedback received has been of incredible value: I received useful comments and suggestions on the course’s structure, on the content of each lesson, on the way of presenting, on how to make some concepts clearer, on resources I could add, etc…

Here are 8 tips from my own experience in carrying out a beta-test.

  1. When you develop something new (a service, a product, an online shop, a website, a course, etc.), plan for the necessary time (and, eventually, budget) to have it tested. The benefits of a feedback definitely outweigh the extra time needed before launch.
  2. Beta testers you select should be your “ideal customers”. They should not be involved in your project / business in anyways, to make sure their judgment is unbiased. Moreover, they should preferably not know you personally: in this way, they will have no problems in telling you what they REALLY think about your product or service.
  3. Select your beta-testers carefully. You can prepare a short questionnaire / application form, share it (e.g. on social media), and decide based on people’s answers. Questions can include, for example: the reason why they want to become testers; their profile, to understand whether they belong to your target group; age, gender and /or nationality, to help you create a balanced group. From the answers, you can also get an idea of the type of feedback you can expect from these people (did they take the time to answer properly to your questions, or did they answer with just a couple of words full of typos?)
  4. Promise something in exchange. In my case, this was really easy (I gave them the on-line course for free). If you need to test something with no immediate benefit to the beta-testers, make sure you give them something at the end of the test (e.g. a free product from your online shop, a book on a relevant topic, a free 1-hour consultancy, etc.)
  5. Select more testers than you need: it is very likely that some will abandon along the way and/or will not provide a valuable feedback. For example, I selected 10 people from a total of 40 applicants and I ended up with 6 active beta-testers.
  6. Specify the max time they have to try your product or service and provide you with feedback. This is especially important if the test is time consuming (e.g. an online course). For example, I asked applicants to declare that they would complete the course within one month.
  7. Prepare specific questions to help your testers understand what you are particularly interested in, but always let them say everything else that they deem important.
  8. Encourage your testers along the way. For example, tell them more than once how much you appreciate their help, reply to their comments with a personal message, etc. This will keep them motivated and will bring you more insightful comments.

Thank you to Marta, Mohamed, Riikka, Battseren, Zara and Dominique for helping me transform a good online course into an excellent one!

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