Often when we think about developing a prototype, we automatically jump to the digital world. It is important though to understand this is not the only way, and sometimes not the best way to move your project forward.

The goal

Remember that the goal of a prototype is to prove you have a market. You do not have to start with something that will serve a million users. In fact, starting with something large will make you miss out on gathering the individual customer experience, the emotion that will be needed to help your product succeed. A prototype should give your user something similar to the final product, but it does not need to even remotely resemble what that final product will be.

A product developed from a storyboard based on your own ideas is worth much less than a storyboard developed based on real user experience. The goal therefore is to start with the user experience, and then to transform that user 101 interaction into a bigger process.

An example

When you are thinking of a prototype, you must imagine all possibilities, and sometimes, to step outside of the digital world, you may want to look at how the rest of the world, even older generations, functions. By this I mean to look at possibilities like email, phone, direct selling, or even partnering with a shop for the purpose of cross-selling. Social media can also be a great opportunity. Start with what already exists and build on that, rather than starting with developing something new.

There are many ways to provide a potential customer with value, and not all are compatible with digital tools; at least, not initially. Determine what your customer’s pain point is, and then the best way to provide value. It is important to understand how people behave, to consider the habits of the target audience, so you can best meet their need. It is also important to think from the perspective of simplicity. Remember, a phone line costs very little to set up as a test, while a mobile application comes with a significant price tag.

Define the process

All of this is about identifying the persona. What are the emotions they are experiencing? What will they say? What do they think? The goal is to encourage people to pay for your product or service, so you need to engage with who they are, how they act and what they want in order to drive the end result.

Many people today want fast answers. If your service is not fast enough, if it is not easy to navigate during a time of stress or urgency, people will go elsewhere. As the founder, you need to think simply. What is the fastest, most efficient and most direct way to deliver your product? Start with that, refine your understanding of your user and their habits, and then evolve towards the final product.

Build a relationship

Russell Brunson is the author of a book called DotCom Secrets. Understanding that there is almost no better lead magnet than physical product, he has made the book available for free, with only the cost of shipping to pay. This strategy provides something tangible that people want, and an underlying feeling of having received something for nothing. There’s now a willingness to buy because people feel they have already been given something of value. Once you have provided value to your end user and have developed some sort of relationship among your user group, then the next step is to move forward, taking your prototype from a small number of users to a larger audience.

What tools have you considered using to test your prototype? What has been the most effective method of selling your product or service? Let us know below.