Using LinkedIn To Validate Your Business Idea in 3 Days


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LinkedIn's cool error page

The purpose of this post is to show you exactly how to validate your business idea in just 3 days. Recently we validated a business idea in less than 72 hours with a budget of $50. I have included the exact scripts we used, feel free to play around with them.

Over at OneLeggedDuck.com, we have been validating two new muses (side businesses). One of these was a marketing course aimed for first time business owners. Once we had the idea and knew our niche audience, we briefly fleshed out the course contents, put together an introduction video and got a landing page up.

According to the Four Hour Workweek the next step here would be to gather traffic through paid advertising, whether that be with Google Adwords or Facebook Ads etc. However, we wanted to try our hand at something different: Linkedin.

The Rules We had played around with LinkedIn ads in the past with little results to show, so this time around we wanted to tweak our approach. Our aim was to validate our idea quickly while also challenging ourselves. Therefore, we set ourselves the following rules for the campaign:

  • 72 hours to validate

  • Validation = # of people who reserve their spot (it is free for them to do so)

  • Receive meaningful feedback on the course/landing page

  • $50 budget

Having ruled out LinkedIn ads, we were left with direct messaging or getting involved with Groups. The 72 hours rule meant we had to go with direct messaging.

Now, anyone with a Linkedin account knows just how much spam there is on the platform in particular the messaging system. My LinkedIn inbox looks painfully similar to my Gmail spam folder, hordes of horribly written sales letters, or new business opportunities which I need to join… Example of linkedin inbox spam

We knew we had to stand out amongst the masses, but how?

We decided it would come down to personalisation, and a little bit of flattery. With this in mind, we crafted the following script:

Subject: Any advice for me {FIRSTNAME}?

Hey {FIRSTNAME},

Hope this finds you well.

Just now I was sorting through my contacts (new years resolution was to tidy up my workspace…) and I came across your profile.

Looking at the experience you have, I wondered if you had any thoughts on my new venture.

It is a Marketing Course for First Time Business Owners. Sure the course is not suitable for you, but I was hoping you could take 60 seconds to provide your thoughts on the contents of the course, does it cover all the bases?

If you are feeling helpful, the link is: http://goo.gl/bO8JWk

Looking forward to hearing any thoughts you had.

Your Name

P.S. The link again is: http://goo.gl/bO8JWk

Outcome The results was positive. Of the 300 people we contacted:

  • 51 recipients reserved their spot in the course

  • 22 people responded with their feedback but did not sign up.

A 24% conversion rate from a cold message. We credited a conversion as someone reserving their spot or a response which contained course feedback.

From our experience and those we have talked to, this is a pretty high conversion rate on a cold LinkedIn message. Aside from the copy being highly effective, we also set ourselves up for this kind of result by filtering who would receive the message. Think about it. How often is the spam you receive even relevant to your interests?

Filtering the Audience From our contact lists we filtered the message recipients down to those who fell within two categories: small business owners and those in the marketing/advertising field. We targeted the small business owners as their were our customers. Thanks to the copy we used in the script it was not a hard sell – it did not push the course on them,but rather just educated them about the course. We knew they interests where relevant to our course, therefore we let their own interest spark their action.

Those in the marketing/advertising field were targeted in the hopes they would tear apart our landing page and course contents. This would result in meaningful feedback for us to review and then revise our message.

This two pronged approach to message recipients provided us with the best opportunity to validate our idea through the number of signups, while also receiving feedback on the course from those in the industry.

We know that of the 51 recipients who reserved their spots, the actual number of potential customers is closer to 35. At a cost of $30 which we paid our VA to send the messages, we are happy with paying 85 cents for a qualified customer.

It is worth noting this is not an ongoing sales process which we can expect to receive similar results from multiple times over. This was an experiment to see if we could validate a business idea on LinkedIn in 72 hours. The answer is yes, you can.

Your Turn What out of the box way have you used to validate a business idea? Let me know in a comment below.

Update After communicating with those who signed up, we have altered the audience of the course to a smaller niche. Rather than targeting first time business owners, the course’s focus is now on online marketing for your ecommerce (online retail) site. You can find out more here: www.marketeercourse.com

Update 2We discontinued this idea in mid 2014

  • Jeff

    This is amazing! Thanks for including the script you used Toby. I have never seen this type of validation before, usually it consists of paid ads.

    • Toby Schulz

      Thanks Jeff. One of the advantages of being a cash-strapped is you must come up with inventive ways to test and market your idea/s. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Adam

    Excellant material here Toby.

    The two key takeaways for me are using “personalisation and flattery” in the script when making contact with connections.

    “Filtering your audience” – this is a no brainer once you read it, but one that I am guilty of not doing. This is a big difference maker in my experience.

    Nice work here.

  • JL

    There is some real nugggets here Toby, well done.

    I once tried to validate a business idea through Facebook. I set up a FB group, and invited around 50 friends who were relevant to the business audience. I told them to invite others who would be interested.

    It ended up with only a few being interested, but none where willing to pay for the service. It was cool to be able to validate (or the opposite in this case) the idea quickly and without spending a dime.

    • Toby Schulz

      That is fantastic JL. I have heard a few stories of validation through FB. What was the reason they weren’t willing to pay? -Did you feel you targeted the right audience or was your offer no good?

  • Kate

    Wow! A 24% conversion rate on a cold email like that is awesome. Thanks for breaking down exactly what you guys did Toby. I am going to try something similar out soon. I will use your script as a template but will change the subject matter.

    • Toby Schulz

      We were really happy with the end result Kate. Best of luck using with the script!

  • Michael

    @ozbluebottle:disqus Very Cool post and super informative. This proves validation of a business idea is not a long drawn out process, but can be done within a week! Many of my friends could learn from this concept – I will be sure to forward it on to them.

    • Toby Schulz

      Absolutely Michael, validation can be performed cheaply and quickly. Thanks for sharing the post.