Steps to Management Success – Step 79: Test Your Hunches

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 2nd, 2010

STEP SEVENTY-NINE

Test Your Hunches

You or your team members will almost surely have intriguing new ideas about how to market your products, improve your operations, or otherwise grow your business. Some of them will probably pay off—but you don’t know that up front. Never bet the farm (or you career) on a hunch, no matter how slam-dunk sure you feel about it. Follow the prudent course: test!

WHAT IT MEANS: If you take a seat-of-your-pants approach to implementing every promising idea, you could wind up falling on . . . the seat of your pants. Testing is a smart and more professional way to reality-check the soundness of virtually any innovation. Of course, tests aren’t foolproof. They may not eliminate all of the risk, but they do reduce it. And, if the test results suggest that the idea is not worth pursuing, it can save you a bundle.

ACTION PLAN: Consider how you might be able to test your next hunch. At the very least, actively seek the critical feedback of others. They may have reservations, insights, and perspectives that don’t occur to you. Direct mail is especially amenable to testing, allowing you to test such critical components as offers, lists, packages (including design and copy), and timing (when you mail) on a limited basis before “rolling it out” to your targeted market.

EVEN BETTER: Do your homework by conducting surveys and focus groups, or by acquiring relevant market research to bolster your hunch. Many companies have adapted the software industry’s practice of “beta testers” and have assembled groups of customers who are willing to try potential new products in exchange for their detailed feedback. In general, the more empirical evidence that you can gather to support that your hunch is worthwhile, the more likely your hunch will prove to indeed be worthwhile.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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