March 31st 2020
I am sharing all the knowledge I gathered during my research in four months of testing different business ideas. Before starting investing lots of time and building an MVP (minimum viable product) you can test ideas with adtotyping and get some metrics without writing a single line of code. This process shows a powerful way to validate ideas with the help of Facebook.
What you will get from this article
- From prototyping → pretotyping → adtotyping
- Process for validating ideas step by step.
- Links on tools and learning resources.
Experience — I am not a programmer and I don’t have experience working as a designer. All the tools that are shared in this article don’t require any special computer skills. I am not an English native speaker and I am not a content writer so many of you with basic computer skills should be better at adtotyping then me!
This article is for tech entrepreneurs or those who want to validate their ideas in the market. This validation process is most suited for B2C and in some cases for B2B ideas.
* Disclaimer — I believe in karma and that if you share something you will always be rewarded in many forms. If you find it interesting or have any questions regarding adtotyping method, let me know in the comments below.
You all heard some success stories of big startups trying to build something for 25 times before succeeding. I got inspired by the stories to change my life strategy and made a plan to test 56 ideas in one year — 1 idea a week. What could possibly go wrong? I forgot to mention that I had to complete this goal while having a full-time job, loving wife, daughter & cat. Now we have the first quarter of 2020 and I’ve already tested 14 ideas and plan to test 20 ideas in the next quarter which is almost 40% more than last quarter.
I’ve understood that I will never achieve my goal with the approach of building MVPs (minimum viable product), websites and then validating ideas in the market. I was enlightened when my friend showed me the book with the idea of pretotyping. With pretotyping, you make a website and content + paid plans or sign-up form to collect other results (YODA — your own data) with the skin in the game (it’s when you ask your users for some task to be done → email or prepayment).
Pretotyping is even used for building cars like Elon Musk with Tesla. I tried pretotyping with 5 ideas. After thinking of 5 domains → 5 web pages design + 5 content copies for web pages + 5 Facebook pages + 5 logos and so on… I was exhausted and understood that I will never achieve 56 ideas in a year on my own 🙂 So I thought I have to go back to the process I was using for validating an idea. So I realized that in the end, you don’t need a website with a good design and content if you can’t make traction and drive traffic to your website with ads.
So if nobody is interested in the first place you don’t need any of the other things either. Therefore I thought of the term adtotyping. It comes before everything and is based on collecting data if you can drive traffic from your ad → it’s better to have some backed data in your pocket before thinking of specific domain, web page copy and so on. Of course, you can fail at step 2 with the data in your pocket but still, it’s like shooting with the machine gun vs revolver.
So set up one domain for all your ideas (thinking of a domain name like nextsun that is not attached to any sector or service like) then getting your Facebook page, a web page with sign up/subscribe form and you are ready to test all your ideas. So for every idea, you will have to answer some validation questions + creating a Facebook ad.
I have gathered information from different sources that will be listed in the back of the article.
What are the key questions to ask before starting validating?
- Define your idea in one sentence — if I can’t define my idea in one easily understandable sentence I skip the idea.
- What issues/problems are you solving?
- How will your product address these problems?
- Who is your customer?
- What types of industries do my potential customers work in?
- What is their job title? (optional)
- How does your product improve their lives?
- XYZ — At least X% of Y will do Z ,,, so define the goal that you want to achieve with an ad campaign. So let’s take an example: if the ad will drive 5% of all the audience that saw your ad to the web page we will proceed to step 2 of idea validation. Having a goal is crucial if you compare more than one idea.
Start validating with Facebook ads.
Why Facebook ads? Why not get feedback from colleagues, friends, family, experts or just random people. They all can be wrong and give you misleading information based on your relationships and other psychological aspects. Only the market can say what is needed. So I find the best and the cheapest way is to ask the market and that’s using Facebook ads. If you find a better cheaper way that works let me know!
For the first time to validate your idea you will need :
1. Think of your idea/domain name (if you want to test more then one idea think about the name that doesn’t address directly any sector or type of idea)
Find the right domain name
For domain registration
2. Create a website.
I have tried lots of different providers for creating a website. I will list all of them (at the end of an article). It depends on which you are used to. If you will choose a free service check if it will have any integrations with the Facebook pixel, analytic and so on. All alternative tools listed at the end.
For creating website, I use
Don’t worry you won’t need lots of content you will need only the form for email and something like that.
At first, I tried creating content for every idea. It took lots of time and energy and at this phase, you don’t need that. The main thing at this stage is to test if you even can drive traffic or in other words if somebody is interested in your idea.
So we created a landing page. Of course, you will need to add a custom domain, depending on where you are building your website and the domain registrar you have chosen.
3. Facebook page
If you want to run Facebook ads at first you will have to make a Facebook page. There are some recommendations after you create your Facebook page — to make a minimum of 5 posts and fill all the information about your business.
So the main things that you will need for the Facebook page are Logo and Facebook cover design. You can use the logo on the web page, but at this stage, it’s not important (it depends on you how much you are in love with your idea)
Block comments → Settings on your Page, Scroll down to Page Moderation, and then copy and paste words that you want to block (there are rude people out there and you don’t want this stuff showing up on your advertising…)
For logo and Facebook cover design
5. Create an ad
So I have read lots of recommendations and also tried different things. I will list what works for me.
I use a new campaign for every idea, and use a split test. The higher number of ad sets will let you check which ads are more successful in attracting traffic to your idea In most cases I create two Ads sets after the campaign ends I run a new one with the winner. All you have to do is test then test and finally test again.
I always choose Lifetime budget over Daily, this way you do not burn “tons” of money and to have the same budget for all ideas → ads. Also to be sure that I won’t spend more than I want. I always use 10$ for the first round, some professionals say it’s not enough but I doubt their arguments.
You can invest more if you want but my point is that I get results from the first try and I will relaunch the winner Ad one more time with a 10$ budget and will see how it will perform. I will opt to proceed further with ideas that have reached my XYZ goal.
I always test an idea in the United States → it’s a most competitive market so you will be sure that the data you gathered is real and in other markets, you will have higher conversion results. Of course, if you have a local idea and you live outside the US test ones there.
Also, some Facebook pages can be added as interests, but only some and it’s only Facebook that knows why.
After reading lots of pros and cons I am launching all ideas in manual placements and only on Facebook news feed. You should consider other options if you think that your idea is for Instagram users or have any specific needs also know that showing your ad everywhere you have to adapt ad-media to all platforms.
Optimization and delivery
Optimization for Ad Delivery → driving traffic to your landing page views.
So this is the most important part and the part that you will master after several created ads.
Add media – Image or video is the most essential part making up to 80% of your ad’s success, the user has to stop scrolling to read your ad copy.
Finding Good Images / Video
- Should Stand Out And Cause Emotion
- “If You Couldn’t Use Words, What Image Would You Choose?”
- Relevant To Audience & What You Are Offering (Alignment)
- Use Smiling Faces Looking at Camera
You will choose 2 or more images/videos based on how many ads set you created.
Tools for image/video
- Text formula
- Removal Of Pain
- Client Testimonial
- First Person Story Of Transformation
- Big Promise
Headline — What is your value proposition in 3 words or what your ideas paint point cure?
Description — A slogan on your idea or what you will receive.
So create other ad sets and you are ready to start your test.
It’s up to you what XYZ you have chosen, I use CTR + CPC + Cost per landing page to understand if my idea interests the audience but it’s only the first step of validating idea lifecycle.
Steps to the idea validation process. If your idea passes phase one, proceed to the next step.
- Adtotyping → measure if your idea ad copy can drive traffic to your website.
- Pretotyping → create a web page with content with skin in the game (prepaid payments, subscription form or other valuable data that you can get from the users). Drive traffic to your web page (Facebook ads or if you have alternatives channels) and measure conversion results. If you reach your XYZ goal proceed to the next step.
- There are different approaches to this point. If you are capable you can start building MVP, start raising funds, go lean and ask your users what they are looking for.
So what is most important at this point is that you have your own data. Most startups use hypothetical data of user acquisition, potential user archetype and so on. If you reached step 3 you already gathered data that can be inserted in your business plan based on real numbers not hyphothetical.
So start your ad validation journey and if you have improvements to this process let me know in the comments.
All the tools and useful information that I gathered during this research, maybe you will find some of them useful.
Special thanks to my family also thanks to the brunch dream team (3V+G) & A.K.
Previously published at https://medium.com/@vytautas_53656/do-you-know-how-to-fail-fast-with-your-next-idea-7b27f2a2138d