“But everyone said that my product is so damn awesome!” you sigh while sitting in a warehouse, full of that awesome product that you just can’t get sold. You didn’t do your homework, did you? Validating your idea significantly lowers your risk before you dive into business waters. You can skip the validation stage if you don’t have to make big investments before launching business, but if you have to buy equipment, order a big batch of your product, hire someone etc., this step is crucial. You must not only show your product, but sell it in validation stage. But how can you sell something that you don’t have yet?


No, not selling is not an option

What makes you think that you will be able to sell later if you can’t sell now? Some people think that you need your product to be ready when you sell. Our goal in validation stage is not to ship a product to someone, but to make sure that people are ready to pay the price that you have set for the product that you are going to make. Be honest with yourself and others in this stage – put the real price for your product or even a bit higher than you have planned, leave yourself some margin.


Creating a lean landing page

When we say “landing page”, what do you imagine? I bet it’s a page with a lot of buzz – features, benefits, popups, countdown timers, etc. But isn’t it exactly what we hate as a visitor? We are so used to such pages that opening one instantly makes our brain click and turn on defensive mode. That’s why you shouldn’t push it too hard, let your visitor enjoy his buying experience. Keep it lean, keep it classy. Your landing page only needs one function – tracking how many people click the “Buy” button.

I’d like to show you what do I mean by “lean landing page”, I will create a new landing page, for the product that is not made by me, a simple sketchbook that is laying on my table.

  1. Let’s start with pictures.
    Telling about your product won’t be enough, people need a visual confirmation before they buy. Not having a product to photograph shouldn’t be a case here, because if you know how much it costs, you should know how much effort does it takes to make it, therefore you must have at least one piece. Use it! Most of the smartphones nowadays can make pretty good pictures, there are tons of tutorials on how to do it properly. Actually, I’m gonna use my smartphone for this! Sometimes you can even hire someone to create a mock-up of your product in photoshop, if it’s not super specific. If you are taking pictures yourself, try to take as many as possible, try different angles, different scenes, close-ups, taking photos cost nothing! After I was done taking photos, I imported them all and separated the good ones from bad ones.

  2. Client’s perspective
    This is the most crucial part in the whole process. Take a piece of paper and write answers to these questions:

    What do I want my client to desire when they see my product?
    I want them to desire the ability to have their sketchbook with them all the time due to it’s small size.
    What information/specifics would be important for my client?
    How big is the sketchbook, what kind of paper is used, how many pages does it have, how does it look, how much does it cost.
    What fears would my client have when buying my product?
    Too big to fit in a pocket, ugly design.

    All these questions must be answered throughout the landing page.

  3. Header section
    Header is the first thing that a visitor sees, our goals for the header is:
    a) To tell what exactly is our product
    b) To show how the product looks
    c) To create an interest to learn more about our product.

    Keep it straight – tell them what it is and show them how it looks, it will save time and frustration for your visitor. You may be thinking why I’m not putting a “Buy now” button in the header, seems like a no-brainer, because everybody does that. But would you really buy some product before learning more about it? I wouldn’t and I bet 99% other people won’t too. Besides that, we have a “Buy now” button in the top navigation.

    product validation page header

  4. Answer all the important questions that may appear in your client’s head.
    You already showed them how it looks, tell them what’s inside. In the same time address their fears and desires. They fear that it won’t fit in their pocket – give them size! Create a desire in their mind – never missing an eruption of inspiration because you have your sketchbook with you all the time.

  5.  Connect it with life
    You want to achieve a “That’s me!!!” effect in your visitor’s mind, it will make them feel more connected with the product in a moment. This is how we achieve it:
  6. Validation time!
    By now we’ve told about our product and tried to convince visitor’s mind that he needs that sketchbook! Time to show the price and see if it’s still interesting for our visitor. buy_validation_page
  7. What have we created?
    Pretty damn lean validation page using photos taken by smartphone. Time to pump that traffic in(make sure that you are targeting the right people!).
    (Click on image to see bigger version.)


What to do if someone clicks “Buy now”?

Congratulations! Product’s validation is successfully happening. Be polite and tell them, that this is product’s validation stage, but don’t lose them, ask for their e-mail so you have some potential clients when you really launch. Since they are probably frustrated that they couldn’t buy it right now, bribe them with a bonus or discount for their first order when you launch, they’ll be happy!


Key takeaways

– Don’t skip validation stage, it may save you a lot of money/frustration/energy/time.
– Sell benefits not features, in this example we sold a sketchbook that can be with you all the time, not the 9x12cm sketchbook.
– Keep it lean, don’t add random sections just because every other landing page has it, it will only have a negative effect.
– Step in your client’s shoes and think about their fears/desires/needs. Address them.
– Don’t be afraid to not have a ready product for selling, it won’t be the end of the world if you don’t ship now.