No amount of marketing will save a bad product; many businesses have tested this cliche and found it true, to their dismay. Before we do anything else, we have to ask: does anyone want the product we plan to make?

As a parent, nearly everything my child makes is great – to me. One of the jobs of a parent is to provide encouragement, love, and support. As a marketer, a guaranteed market of one customer is a terrible place to be. If we want to sell our stuff, we need to know lots of people want to buy it.

Let’s begin by understand what people want.

What People Want

When people want something, they tend to search for it, discuss it, and then perhaps buy it. We want to find a broad category of product people want, then find our own unique take on the category, something that fewer people want, but want it very badly. For example, peanut butter in chocolate is a very popular combination in America. Garlic in chocolate is not; however, it’s a popular kind of candy in Lithuania. If we were to make it in America, we might be able to find people of Lithuanian descent in America and sell them their favorite candy that’s extremely hard to find here.

Another example is a particular type of Norwegian cheese called gjetost. Gjetost is a caramelized cheese, made by slowly melting and cooking it for hours until the natural milk sugars caramelize. It’s almost impossible to find in America except for one or two restaurants. In this example, the broad category is cheese, which lots of people search for. The narrow, unique take is a very difficult to find kind of cheese.

Tools

What if we don’t necessarily know exactly what people want? We can use tools and software to help us. While grownup marketers have million dollar software at their disposal, kids generally don’t. So what could our kids use to find out if their great idea is actually great? Google provides 3 excellent, free tools to help us identify if our idea is on the right track. If you’re following along, you’ll want to have a paper and pen or spreadsheet handy – and if you’re a kid, be sure you have your parent’s permission to use the Internet.

Google Trends

Our first stop is Google Trends. Google Trends tells us how many people are searching for certain kinds of words, based on a starting word. Here, I’ve typed in chocolate candy:

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Hit search, and we get these results:

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We see that chocolate candy is quite popular, and is especially popular every December, February, and April, corresponding to three holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.

If we scroll down the page, we can see some additional ideas for our product based on what people search for:

relatedtrends.png

People look for candy bars and white chocolate; if we’re thinking about making handmade chocolate, we should put white chocolate versions on the list.

Google Autosuggest

Our second stop is Google’s Autosuggest, which pops up any time we start typing a search into Google:

autosuggest.png

Here, we type and look to see what else Google suggests for ideas, for what it thinks people are searching for. Anything that sounds like a product we should make (or an idea for a product) should go on our sheet of paper.

AdWords Keyword Tool

The third tool is part of Google’s advertising system, and requires parental supervision. The AdWords Keyword Tool is part of Google’s AdWords advertising system. You don’t need to spend any money, but it will ask you as part of signing up for it to put in a credit card. For safety, I keep an unfunded (but still valid) American Express gift card handy to put in for the credit card.

Once you’ve signed in and created an account, go to the Tools menu and choose Keyword Planner:

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Choose “Search for new keywords” and type in our list of ideas we’ve generated so far:

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Click Get Ideas (the blue button at the bottom), and look at the results:

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In this long list will be additional ideas. What we’re looking for are things which are searched for frequently (a high number of average monthly searches) and low competition. These are the products and services that are relatively underserved; people want them and search for them, but companies that buy ads aren’t necessarily spending much or competing much to advertise to those people.

Finishing Our Unique Product Idea

The very best product ideas combine popular things in interesting ways. If you like horses, making white chocolate candy (which is popular) in the shape of horses (also popular) is a more unique idea. Use these tools over and over again until you find an idea you really want to make and that you’re capable of making.

In the next post, we’ll look at the marketing tools and technologies you’ll need to sell your product online from home!


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