6 Quick Steps To Test Market Your New Product or Service

Test Market ProductThis question came from Ray, a student in my Entrepreneurship 101: How To Start A Business You Love Now course. Thanks for the question Ray! “Establishing validity of business concept?” This will give you a thought process and a simple strategy to test market your product or service idea.

Like I say in the course, you can over think and over analyze whether you should launch or not. Take quick action and test your product idea in a short amount of time! This will train your brain to take action and help you get closer to launching your new business! Now here are the 6 quick steps to test market your new product or service:

  1. Is it a brand new product or service or is there established demand for it?
  2. If no established demand, can you pre-sell the product/service before launching to test actual demand? You can survey potential customers all you want, but until they actually have to put down cash to purchase it, you won’t know the real demand. Decide how much you are willing to spend on test marketing.
  3. Who is your market? Are your potential customers local (within a fixed geographic area) or online (one particular country or worldwide) or both? Choose the size of your initial test market and length of time you will test it.
  4. Can you deliver/produce your product/service to this market and charge enough to make your target profit? If you are not able to pre-sell your product/service, then produce/purchase enough of it for your test. Some countries have laws against charging for a product that isn’t available for delivery immediately, so check your local laws.
  5. Establish your test marketing: website, Youtube videos, Google Adwords (or Facebook & Twitter ads as well), marketing materials, advertising, trade show booth, B2B, door to door, mall demonstrations, etc. to test the initial sales of product/service. Tip: Pick your top 2 or 3 marketing ideas for the test. Otherwise the more you marketing channels you implement, the more time it will take as well as adding to the cost of your test market.
  6. Launch market test! Are the results good? Then launch business (Or re-test of you want to make sure!). Results didn’t meet target? Then what can you adjust? Price, market, options, packaging (what were the initial customers feedback about your product/service) then re-test or scrap concept and choose another idea to test.

What strategies would you add to test market your product or service ideas? Please share them in the comments below.

Follow, fan, friend me, etc. to see what I’m working on next!

WeddingWire & TheKnot Wedding Marketing Secrets To Online Reviews

Ah…wedding season! Are you ready for a season of happy couples and fairytale weddings? Bring it on! Rock those weddings! Now let’s skip forward and say you’ve completed your work for the big day and the couple is thrilled! Now what? How do you get the most wedding marketing leverage out of your raving fan clients? Well I owned a successful wedding DJ company for over 20 years and I’m going to share my marketing secrets with you. This is one of my favorite wedding marketing strategies; how to get the most out of online reviews!

Weddingwire wedding marketingOnline Reviews

Love them or hate them, online reviews on websites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google Plus, and Yelp are here to stay! Like me, I’m sure you have been frustrated at times with these online review sites.  Maybe you’ve had fake negative reviews like I’ve had. Or maybe you gave a complete refund to a complaining client and they still left you a bad review online (Yep…had that one too!). I’m not going to debate whether these websites are fair or not. Because, like it or not, online reviews are not going to go away and will become even more important to your wedding business in the future.

TheKnot wedding marketingWedding Marketing Through Reputation Management

So do you have a system for making the most out of your happy customers’ reviews? Or on the flip side, do you have a system for minimizing the impact of complaints from your customers? Maybe you are doing well with getting lots of great reviews on Wedding Wire and The Knot, but you haven’t done anything else with them. Don’t miss out on some easy strategies to market your business for free with online reviews!

Yelp online reviewsLeverage Your Online Reviews For Wedding Marketing

Leverage is the key to making online reviews work for your business! When I owned my DJ business, one of our top free lead sources were prospects from online review websites. It was the most mentioned reason that clients gave us for choosing our company over the competition. I spent years developing a system to get the most out of each and every happy client testimonial. I carefully crafted our client communications, letters, emails, online review profiles, etc. to bring in loads of positive reviews. We worked this program consistently for about 5 years. Besides gathering over 100 awesome online reviews, we also won 11 state wedding awards. TheKnot.com Hall of Fame HonoreeBut it even got better! We were inducted as a National Wedding Industry Hall of Fame Honoree by The Knot.com! We were one of just 331 of all wedding related companies in the entire country to receive this award that year and we were interviewed by 2 local TV stations. Needless to say, it was great publicity and all because of legitimate leveraging of online reviews.

Don’t Ignore The Process

Even if you don’t advertise on WeddingWire or TheKnot, your clients reviews will still show up in Google search. Even if you don’t encourage your clients to review you on the TheKnot or WeddingWire, many of them are already members of those sites because they are in the planning stage of their weddings. These websites may remind the couple to review their vendors online after their wedding. You might as well take as much control of this process as you can.Google weddingwire online reviews A stellar review from a client on a review website will:

  • Give you a higher listing on the review website
  • Increase your average star rating on the site and in search engines that share review ratings
  • Increase organic national searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
  • Increase your local search engine optimization (SEO)
  • But most importantly, it will increase your social proof, your legitimacy in your market. Wedding clients buy from vendors that they trust.  Legitimate online reviews will do that for you.

Are You A DJ, Caterer, Hotel or Florist?

If you are in a real competitive part of the wedding industry like disc jockeys, caterers, florists, etc., great online reviews are not just nice to have…they are a requirement! You will need to have a bunch of them just to be even with your competition. Hopefully you are in a market where just a little bit of work will help you to dominate your wedding niche!

How To Leverage Your Online Reviews On TheKnot Or WeddingWire:

  1. Find out who your raving fans are by requesting feedback from all of your customers (hint: You can go back years if you haven’t done this before)
  2. Ask happy couples to post a review to one or more review websites like TheKnot or WeddingWire
  3. Use those reviews in other promotional materials and on your business website
  4. Ask those same happy brides and grooms to post to additional online review websites like Google Plus or Yelp
  5. Repeat this process on a regular basis, once a week is best!

A little bit of work goes a long ways in building your online reputation. If you think you are too busy to do this, you can have an employee do it or outsource it all together to a freelancer or virtual assistant (VA).

Google Plus Facebook Yelp online review secretsFor a free quick start guide to leveraging the power of legitimate online reviews and 12 free email, letter and web page templates, download it here.

If you want more help with this, want the client contact templates laid out for you, etc. I have an online course that I created to help! I know you are busy so I packed all of the strategies you need into just a 1.5 hour course! And this course can be taken on your computer, smartphone or tablet when you are on the go! And instead of $147, I have a special wedding industry offer of just $29 by clicking here! Follow that link to find out all the extra bonuses included in the course!

Now if you are still not sure or your budget is basically tapped right now. WAIT! I want you to have this course because I know it will help your business! For a limited time, you can sign up here for just $9! Plus it comes with a 30 day money back guarantee and so much more! Sign up now…I really want to help you improve your online reviews!

Join over 2500 successful students…Here are what just a few have had to say:

This course has given me a way to get though the “review bottleneck”. I work hard to produce high quality results for my clients and many of them are tremendously happy with the work I produce. My problems has always been that even when I ask (verbally) for them to review my work it generally doesn’t happen, and I didn’t understand why! Tom’s course has given me not only the tools, but also the understanding of the process I need to properly encourage them to create and post positive reviews. On top of all that he also gives you a way to use reviews as a feedback mechanism to help improve your product or service delivery without damaging your public reputation. I can’t tell you how many times I would like people to tell me what they are REALLY thinking when they don’t want to. Tom’s system helps with that as well.Scott, Udemy Student

I plan on using some of the tips I received from this course in my business. There were a lot of things about reviews that I learned that I was unaware of. The instructor has a pleasant voice and the course was interesting.” Lora, Wedding Officiant & Author

For more information about online reviews and other ways to market your wedding business, check out the rest of my website. Now let’s bring on those wedding couples and have the best wedding season ever!

Yelp Small Business Secrets – Not Recommended Reviews

What! Your great customer review on Yelp disappeared! So how do you get those “filtered” or “not recommended” reviews to show up from your happy customers?

According to a recent survey, Yelp is the most popular of online review websites and is probably the most challenging of review websites to master for a business. Yelp has this super secret formula for what reviews they will make public or not. For example, in my DJ company, we had 3 public reviews being shown and about 10 hidden ones. All of them were legitimate reviews of course, but the Yelp filter kept them hidden. Now I wish I had known about these strategies back when I still owned the company so I could have fixed that.

So how do we get those filtered or hidden reviews to show up? The best way to get “not recommended” reviews to show up publicly is to get your customer more involved in other Yelp reviews. As soon as you get a review on Yelp, respond to it by: friending the customer on Yelp, like the review and send them a message through Yelp asking them to review other businesses. The problem is Yelp is suspicious of reviewers that sign up, leave one review and never return to the site. Those reviews will likely be hidden. Hidden reviews can come back to life though, show up publicly and then disappear again! Yelp even has a policy against asking for reviews! They are the only review site that I know of that has that policy! Now that’s a “policy” that I say you need to bend.

Here is some sample text that you could use to message a customer on Yelp that has had their positive review hidden from public view:

“Thank you so much for your review of my business on Yelp. I’m so glad we exceeded your expectations. Just an FYI. Your review did get hidden from public view (which does happen on occasion). Could you help me to make sure your review gets listed publicly on Yelp by reviewing some additional businesses? The more active on Yelp that you are, the more your reviews will show up to help other customers to find us and the other businesses that you like. Thanks again for your support. I really appreciate it.”

Above all – Keep working at it. Yelp shows up very high in Google so you want as many Yelp reviews that you can get. For example, in our local DJ market, our Yelp listing made it to the bottom of page 1 in Google. Before we started with Yelp, the review website didn’t even show up in our category. In one study of Yelp by the Harvard Business School an increase of just one star for a restaurant lead to a 5 to 9% increase in revenue. Now you can’t argue with the importance of great reviews on Yelp after hearing that!

For a free quick start guide to leveraging the power of legitimate online reviews and 12 free email, letter and web page templates, download it here.

Want to learn more about leveraging your online reviews on Yelp, Google Plus, Facebook and more, check out my online course!

Why College Students Should Start A Small Business In School

student entrepreneursWith a shrinking market for good, high-paying jobs, the old model of getting a full-time job right out of college just doesn’t work for all graduates.  Start a small business while you are still in school and graduate with more than just a degree, real small business experience!

Then while other graduates are worried about competing for fewer good jobs, your part-time small business can become your full-time venture, an asset to sell, or a second source of income.  And if you decide to jump in the shark tank with the other grads, your small business experience will shout “hire me” from your resume’!

I love this article by Joel Gascoigne, the creator of Buffer.  This is a similar message to what I share when I speak to high school and college students. You’ll never get a better time in your life to create a business then when you are still in school.

Here are just a few of the advantages student entrepreneurs have:

– You can schedule your business building work hours around your classes.
– You have time to try or experiment with several different ideas in case one doesn’t work.
– You get to utilize school resources, teachers, equipment etc. Some maybe for free or already paid for by your student fees.
– You have low to no overhead! Possibly operate from your dorm room or a college business incubator (Yes, I know it’s not technically allowed to have a business in a dorm room, but sometimes you have to bend the rules to create something new).
– You likely don’t have the pressure of having a family, lots of bills, or other big life responsibilities.

Join me, Joel and many others to encourage students to consider starting a business while they are still in school.  I have a lot more information to help student entrepreneurs…those posts will be coming out soon!  Sign up below to get notified when I post a new article!

What Review Websites Should I Target For My Small Business?

Google Yelp TripadvisorThere are 100’s of review websites for businesses.  Review websites could be a search engine, a social media site, a free or paid directory, or a combination of all of these.  Nowadays it’s hard to tell the difference!  Many review websites now act like social media sites with friending, liking, commenting and such.

Some social media websites like Facebook have a review component to their pages.  Still other review websites are listings of businesses by industry and may be paid or free.  Even though some are paid sites.  For the most part, I won’t differentiate between them.  Most paid review sites still publish your profile and put up your reviews for free.  Just because a review website offers paid advertising doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

What review sites should you target?  Well that depends on your industry.  The top ones I recommend for most businesses are:  Google Plus Page, Facebook Page, Twitter Profile, Yelp, and a LinkedIn Business Page.  But don’t stop there!  Here are some additional top review websites with links to claim or set up a profile:

Major Online Review Websites and Social Media:

Additional Online Review and Listing Websites to Consider:

Industry Specific Websites:

Restaurants and Food Establishments:

Travel – Airlines, Hotels, Resorts, Cruises, etc.

Healthcare – Doctors, Hospitals, Clinics, etc.


Home Improvement:



Which websites am I missing?  Be sure to add those to the comments below.

For a free quick start guide to leveraging the power of legitimate online reviews and 12 free email, letter and web page templates, download it here.

Find out more about why online reviews are important for your business in these other articles:  Why Online Reviews Are Important For Your Business & Top Tips For Leveraging Your Positive Online Reviews

Want to get serious about leveraging your positive online reviews?  Sign up for my online class at a special discount:  Fans on Fire!  Build Your Business With Online Reviews!

Subscribe below to get notified when I post a new article!

What other review websites would you recommend?