Creating Your Product Beta Program

One of the biggest reasons that clients come to us here at Straight Talk is because they have launched into the market but can’t seem to get any traction. 

So, I’m going to give it a shot and try and convince you in the next few minutes, why I’m such a huge fan of Beta Programs. 

When clients come to us for lack of “traction,” we tend to find after further investigation, that a lot of the product development, messaging, targeting and everything they think about, like…

  • Whos going to be interested
  • Why their going to be interested
  • How’s it going to work

Those things usually come from their own opinion, with zero feedback from the actual market. 

Keep in mind while going through the Product Market Fit process, they often rely heavily on interviews and anecdotal feedback, which isn’t wrong…it’s just very different when someones actually put their money down on the table to buy your product.

This is why I like to get into the market and start with a Beta Program.

Something to keep in mind:

If you’re going in with minimal feedback and you don’t have a Beta Program, the product you build will likely be 75% of what the market wants, at best. Plus, there’s going to be a lot of things in there that the market doesn’t even care about. That’s all after you’ve incurred the cost, which is a waste of time and money.

There are a couple of caveats I need to add, before going further:

  • This is assuming of course that you already know who your Persona is.
  •  You’ve defined a use case for them. 
  • You’ve tested some messaging 
  • You’ve been able to get some initial interest from the market. Based on that particular messaging and marketing channel, that works best for you.

If you have not done any of those and want to get those done first, Here are links associated with this article and you can take a look at those previous steps before moving forward. 

ADD LINKS ONCE THE ARTICLES HAVE GONE LIVE

If you’ve done those things, you’re in a position where:

  • You know who you are selling to
  • You have a message & a way to acquire them through some sort of resource, like an E-Book or maybe a demo. Where the markets express an interest in what you have.
  • This might be before you’ve even done any development work.

 So, what do you do next? 

  • After you have your first handful of people coming in, I’d pause any acquisition of new Beta members, once I have 5 people.
  • The reason for that is the first 5 people will usually disappear before development. Ill go over why in a moment.
  • When people come in prior to development, it’s usually because we’ve uncovered their pain point and they want to fix it. Which is a massive win in itself.
  • Then, you want to build the solution.
  • You may have a solution already developed or haven’t even started yet. That’s ok because the Beta Program works at any stage.
  • You want to make it clear to people what you’re offering and that it will solve their problem, along with additional benefits. 

 Example:

They can have input during the development process, which can tailor it to their specific needs. It may take longer than an already “out of the box” solution but you’ll be able to explain the trade off.

You’ll then start development:

  • Put a process in lace for regular feedback.                                            Example:  Monthly calls, bi-weekly calls. Depending on how quick you can move the product forward. 

 RECAP:

  • We’ve demonstrated a market 
  • Demonstrated a desire to fix the problem within the market
  • People willing to join your Beta Program
  • Get all the feedback you can 
  • Develop what you can
  • You’ll end up getting 75%-80% of what the market wants
  • You’ll find that the first 5 people will probably stop engaging (That’s ok, you were ready and aware of that) The reason they will usually stop engaging, is because of the amount of time it takes to get their pain solved and how long development of that product takes. (That’s not always the case, but good to keep in mind from the beginning so you don’t When they stop engaging) 
  • That’s why you want to get around 80% of a product complete. That doesn’t mean 80% of development. That means 80% of required value to the market it brings.
  • At this point, you can turn ads back on. 
  • You should acquire another 5-10 people to the Beta Program. These are the people that are going to get you from 80% to 95-100% of exactly what the market wants from your product. In terms of educational material. Plus it will help you understand if your use case is correct. This will help support all of your assumptions & data that you’ve made to this point in your Product Market Fit process.
  • Another reason to turn your ads back on, at this point is because your products now matured enough to really demonstrate weekly updates or at the latest, bi-weekly updates to this audience of people that you’re moving towards the ultimate goal which is going to solve their pain that they’ve looked at you to solve. In reality, you’ve probably already solved their pains to a minor extent from the day they signed up. 

 The benefits at this point:

  • You already have a product that’s 80% there, in terms of what the market needs.
  • You’re actually getting regular feedback, because those people can start using your product from day one.
  • They’ll also get additional value because they can tailor the product more to their specific needs due to their feedback.
  • You can let the Beta Program grow to 15, 20 even 30 people, sometimes more. Depending on the type of product/price point you’re offering.

    Example:

    The lower the price point = More people are willing to get on board. What       you’re really doing is improving the process with a sample size.  

  • Yes, you’ve got a BP and youre now getting feedback on the product, but you’re actually doing a lot more than that. You’re proving with data all of the information in your Persona Document, your use case and your targeting. 
  • You’re finding out  new use cases, new pain points. You’re finding additional markets that you can expand into. 
  • You’re finding books in your platform
  • You’re finding out what you can do to improve your product over time.
  • You’re learning what’s easy and not easy for people to understand,
  • What challenges are people having?
  • Where do you need to change your UX?
  • Where do you need to provide additional education? 
  • Where do you need to provide templates and if so, what templates do you need to provide?

All of this comes from you having a Beta Program and not officially launching into the market but controlling those initial people who come on board by working very closely with them. There’s additional benefits around sales and testing out a sales process like:

  •  learning objections
  •  learning how and what to pitch to them
  • What does a sales process look like in terms of a timeframe
  • How can you improve and refine that process

These are all massive challenges and struggles that people have on a day to day basis. The most important thing that any company looking for Product Market Fit, is learning. 

Most importantly, you’ll be able to validate what you’re saying because things based on your opinion really don’t mean anything. 

If you can stand in front of someone and demonstrate through evidence that 20-40 people, through a Beta Program have shown through lessons you’ve learned, you’ll have a watertight argument. That gives you a base to be successful when coming out of Beta and actually hit the market. Take it from me…you’ll actually hit scale a lot quicker this way and become a more mature business all while hitting the goals you have made for yourself and your organization.

 

By Dan Wheatley, Co-Founder

CEO/Co-Founder of Straight Talk Consulting, a business consultancy that gets our hands dirty. We work with organisations to achieve product market fit before transitioning into scalable and repeatable growth