How to Validate a Successful Business Idea in Your Neighborhood
"Steal your business model. We don't have a shortage of business models, it's okay if you pick one that's already working for someone else." - Seth Godin
The world is a big exciting place so I often come across business ideas that are so memorable that I find myself asking “Why doesn’t my city have this?”
Some people were lucky enough to ride the frozen yogurt hype train all the way to the bank by opening up shops in their own cities. Sadly the frozen yogurt hype has died down, but you can bet I’m keeping ears to the ground for whatever’s next.
Witnessing the blazing fast spread of business trends through social media always brings me back to the well-known idea that “good artists copy; great artists steal”.
This got me thinking...
How could I take a successful business idea from one place and see if it would fly in my neighbourhood?
Ideally I would like to see if anyone would be willing to purchase before I spend anything on startup costs. This would limit my financial risk and allow me to stop before I’m in too deep if no one is interested.
A popular activity that I’ve seen on social media these days is escape rooms. This is where parties of people pay to have themselves locked in a room and to solve puzzles in a certain amount of time to escape.
Here are the steps I took to quickly set up a workflow to validate a successful business idea for an “escape room” in my neighbourhood.
Step 1 - Use Google’s Keyword planner to see how many people are searching for “escape rooms” in my area
Let’s start by seeing if anyone is even looking for an escape room to visit in the first place.
It’s easy to see how many people on average are searching for something using Google’s keyword planner.
- Start by listing all terms that include escape rooms and every variation of the term you can think of. I searched for terms like "escape room," "best escape room," and "best vancouver escape room."
- Enter in your geographic area.
- Enter each term, one by one, into Google’s keyword planner.
- Note the amount of average monthly searches and the adwords competition.
In my search of “escape room Vancouver” Google’s keyword planner showed 1,900 average monthly searches with “low” competition in adwords. Exactly what I like to see.
I also searched “escape room Vancouver” to see what kind of ads would pop up. Judging by the bolded text in the ads it looks like none of the escape rooms in Vancouver are targeting the keyword “escape room vancouver”.
Go ahead and try using the "searches related" suggestions at the bottom of the Google search results for more ideas.
Step 2 - Create your advertisements in Google adwords
I targeted the exact phrase “escape room” for a max bid of $2.30 that would get my ad an average position of 1.30.
Google's estimation shows that my ad would be served at least 45 times a day and be clicked on twice a day.
Step 3 - Set up a landing page to see how many people are willing to buy
Now that I know that my advertisements will not have much competition I created a landing page for my ads to point to.
I used Wishpond’s landing page building page tool and picked a template that was optimized for booking reservations. All I had to do was find a spooky image and add in my text.
You’re going to want to use a landing page because they’re built to serve one purpose: get conversions.
At this point I don’t have an actual reservation system in place. So when people choose to convert they will be directed to a thank you page that says “thank you for your interest in Escape Room Vancouver - we will email you when we finish construction!”
Step 4 - Run your advertisements on Google to find your audience
This is the part where we will actually validate the business idea.
The amount of people that land on my page and fill out the form, then click “reserve my escape room now” will give me a quantifiable sense of how many prospective customers I have in my area.
These leads will go straight to an email list and if I were to get enough leads to validate my idea, I would know there is an audience out there that I can serve.
Don’t disregard other methods of promotion as well. Go out and promote your business idea as many ways as possible. Set up a social media page for your company and reach out to blogs related to your industry, and send all the traffic to your landing page. Use every possible avenue to validate your business idea.
The number of people that push your “buy now” button shows how valid your business idea is in your neighborhood.
Now it’s the time to see if your business idea will fly.
Breaking it Down:
- Step 1 - Use Google’s keyword planner and research valuable keywords.
- Step 2 - Create your advertisements on Google adwords.
- Step 3 - Create a landing page for people to convert on.
- Step 4 - Run your ads and promote your landing page to see how many people are willing to convert.
You can use this method to test virtually any business idea in your neighborhood. If you have a great idea, borrowed or not, test it first before you spend any money. See if there is an audience that is interested and you’ll already be halfway to your successful new business.