Would your market jump at the chance to subscribe to your services as opposed to one-off purchases? Could TikTok help you reach new customers? Would a tweak here or there boost sales? Would your team be more productive with a 4 day work week? Before you get too excited, we’re not going to answer those questions for you today. We can’t. What we can do is encourage you to experiment in order to find out.
Experiment? What do you mean?
An experiment can take on a few different forms in your business. You might trial new messaging through an A/B test in comparable markets and compare response rates. You might roll out a new product or service in a single market to test the waters before a larger release. You can pilot a new feature within your organization or with your partners. You may bring in a market research group and ask them for feedback on an idea or prototype. Regardless of your approach, business experiments are about testing the waters before committing to a large-scale commitment.
Why should I experiment?
Data gathered from your existing sales and marketing, particularly when coupled with market research, can help you make an informed guess about what might resonate with your market and your team. You won’t really know how something is going to take off, however, until you turn that idea into a tangible offering and watch the market respond. Experimenting, no matter which method you use to dip your toes in the water, will give you more relevant data to base your ‘big release’ decision upson.
Experiments Don’t Fail. They Inform.
There will be experiments that don’t lead to full scale roll-outs of whatever it is you’re testing. That’s okay. The experiment did what it was supposed to do. It helped you gather the info you needed to make a decision about larger scale changes or additions to your business.
You may have feedback that leads you to tweak your idea before a larger release. You may have learned that the idea you had just didn’t land with your specific market at this time. Either way, it came with a lower cost investment in time and resources than a full-scale roll-out that flops.
Start with a Plan
Before you even consider launching your experiment into the wild, you need to answer a few questions:
- Who is your target market for this specific trial run? (Are you tapping into the same space you usually do? Aiming at a different age group? Expanding into a new community?)
- What is your desired outcome? (Will you see an increase in sales of a particular good or service? Will potential customers visit a designated landing page to get more info on your company? Will folks sign up for a trial of your services?
- How will you measure success? (Are you looking for a specific percentage increase in new inquiries? Are you measuring hits to a landing page? Are you measuring attendance or conversion rates? Are you looking at a gradual or immediate increase in numbers?)
Stick to the Plan
After you conclude your experiment, refer back to your plan. Did you reach your target market? Did you achieve your desired outcome(s)? Are you hitting measurable indicators as outlined before? If not, and yes, it’s completely plausible that you won’t hit the metrics you're looking for, what did you learn from the experience? Is there enough in the right direction to warrant further development and roll-out? Could the effort benefit from adjustments before launch to increase reach? Did a market you didn’t even intend to reach resonate with your message? Did folks visit your landing page but fail to convert? What can you learn from the data you’ve collected? Use the answers to these questions to guide your way forward.
Set a Deadline and a Control Group
Experiments are short-term. The parameters you set should include a start date and an end date. Set it, and stick with it. Yet even though your test is over, keep an eye on the data that rolls in after the fact. Make note of any changes that might be attributable to your experiment even after it’s over.
Likewise, remember the general guidelines of any good scientific experiment – you can’t measure the impact of your trial without understanding your norms. Identify a control group and compare metrics between that group and your test group.
Experimentation is not a one-and-done process. If you want to expand your market and increase your reach, keep trying new things. Embrace experimentation. Sometimes your experiments will prove an idea or concept is worth pursuing more broadly. Other times, the experiment will prove that particular idea isn’t as good in practice as it seemed to be on paper. And that’s okay.