How To Conduct a Product Validation Survey: A Simple Guide To Researching Your Market

For entrepreneurs, validating a product concept isn’t optional.

There’s nothing more important than conducting high-quality market research prior to your launch. Feedback from your target market consumers can make or break your startup’s success. But how exactly do you get the kind of high-quality feedback you need? What questions should you be asking, and how do you make sure to survey the right population?

What are the goals of your survey?

The key to formulating a successful market survey is to define exactly what you’re trying to measure. High-level, your goal should be to estimate demand for your concept, and determine what kind of person is most likely to buy (your lowest hanging fruit). But beyond this, be specific: Ask yourself: “What don’t I know right now that I’d like to know before I launch?” This might be things like whether men or women are more interested in your concept. Or what words and ideas your product’s name brings to mind. Or whether consumers will see your product as an alternative to something else they already use (versus something completely new).

These questions form the context on top of which you’ll write your specific survey questions.

What questions should you be asking in your survey?

First of all, ask screening questions. If you only want to survey females, for example, you need to ask about gender right up front. Same goes for any other demographic or behavioral screening questions you have in mind.

With those out of the way, ask behavioral questions relevant to your concept. If you’re launching a new to-do list app, for example, ask about how often respondents use to-do lists. Or how often they use their smartphone. Or what kind of smartphone they have, and their likeliness to download new apps.

After basic demographics and behavioral questions, present your product concept. This can take many forms, but ideally you’ll have at least two media – text and photo, text and video, etc. The goal is to be 100% sure that respondents understand exactly what you’re bringing to market before they give you their feedback.

Next, ask these three things:

  1. How well do you understand the product described? (I fully understand, I somewhat understand, I do not understand)
  2. How interested would you be in learning more about this product? (Not at all interested, Slightly interested, Moderately interested, Very interested, Extremely interested)
  3. Do you use anything like this currently? (Y/N)

Who should you be surveying?

Rule of thumb is to cast a wide net. It’s better to survey slightly too many people than not enough.

But ultimately, you do need to decide who is your target audience here, and form your targeting criteria around that. Launching a career training course? Target career-seeking people. Launching a home improvement app? Target homeowners. Launching a doggy day care? Survey dog owners, and be sure to get a good mix of gender, ages, and household incomes.

The target is completely up to you. We can help refine your target when we get a sense of who you’re trying to reach. It’s likely we’ll have some ideas to make sure you’re maximizing the value of this project and reaching the right audience – not too broad, not too narrow.

How do you create the survey?

Lots of platforms exist that enable you to program your own survey. But these get expensive, and it’s total overkill for 99% of users.

You don’t need a subscription to a survey platform. That’s why at PeopleFish, we program and host your survey for you. This way, you can just focus on making sure you’re asking the right questions, and leave the hassle of learning a new survey platform to us.

So just draft your survey however it’s easiest for you. Most of our clients send us a Word or Google Doc. If you have some advanced question logic in your survey, consider using an Excel spreadsheet. But we’re file-type agnostic – the goal for you is to make sure you’ve asked what you need to ask.

How do you field the survey?

This one’s easy: Just reach out to us. We’ll connect with you about what audience you’re targeting, and send over a quote ASAP. If all looks good to you, we’ll field your survey in no time. We’re able to target on just about any variable imaginable, so don’t worry about being too specific!

Of course, you’re also welcome to send your survey to friends and family. While there are some issues with surveying people who know you personally (and who aren’t likely to tell you things you don’t want to hear), it’s good to get as much data as possible.

If you have your own contact list, be sure to spend enough time drafting a compelling survey invitation email. Especially if you’re not offering any kind of incentive for people who complete your survey. You can only reach out to people so many times before they start to ignore your outreach, so make sure your survey invitation email is short, pithy, and to the point. No one wants to have to spend time trying to figure out what you’re asking them to do, and research shows you have only a few seconds before losing someone’s attention completely.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that a well-done product validation survey can make-or-break a product launch. Knowing what consumers think about your concept before going to market is just about the most powerful way to enhance your launch. And if you’re trying to get investment, you really can’t afford to NOT conduct a survey. So spend time planning this step, and reach out to us with any questions.