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Sometimes shipping it is the best market research

It’s common knowledge that each one of us have a book in us. I saw some random online marketing dude claiming, “there’s at least one online course in each of us.” The only thing I could think of was, “boy, times have changed.”

One of the most common advise I hear from both the best and the worst of marketers is this — do your market research before you invest in a significant time and effort to produce that book or online course. Logically, it makes sense but practically it doesn’t address one of our greatest obstacle — overanalysing. We all love to do it. Even the ones who aren’t analytical choose to spend countless hours just doing research because they’re made to believe it’s “productive” work. And the end of 3,6,9, or 12 months all you have to show for is a truckload of lost time and a dent in your bank balance.

Of course, the programs weren’t at fault. And yes, it is important to do your market research before you put in the time. What they didn’t tell you is how to avoid getting yourself into the “market research” trap and get the damn thing done! It’s so natural to get sucked into that indefinite research phase. Believe me, I’ve sabotaged at least half-a-dozen projects just due to research!

I’ve now concluded that having your minimum viable product is critical to any project’s success. And here’s how I think everyone should go about it:

  1. Research phase: 3 days (this one is optional if all you want to do is get a book or an online course out. You may have one of each in you but they don’t have to be a bestseller. Nobody promised that.)
  2. Implementing: 20 days
  3. Marketing (aka “talking about your book/course online or offline”) : 7 days

That’s it! The focus is on shipping in and not doing a PhD in your subject. Remember that this might be version 1.0 and if you have many takers, you’ve got all the reasons to work on a version 2.0. Offer the newer version for free to the previous buyers and marketing it as the new and improved version to the rest of the world.

An alternative could be to ship out version 1.0 to a group of people (10 or 20), get their feedback on what’s missing and what could be improved, and work towards finalising it. This focused group gets a free version of the 2.0 that you release while the rest of the world pays for it.

Like I said, if you aim to earn millions out of this product, you’re in the wrong business. None of the marketers whose programs you buy started out that way. Their intention was to serve an audience by creating something that’s valuable. Period. All the raving success came by afterwards and took a lot of time and effort.

I’m not suggesting you can’t get to that level, you can, but a little time and patience can get you there. For starters, get going with your version 1.0. If you find traction, continue to work on it until you have a much improved version 2.0 ready to roll. That’s how the best products, services, books, courses, events are launched. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Ship it and know that it’ll get to the level you want, eventually.