Pre-sales involves accepting payment in exchange for a promise to deliver the value proposition at a later date. Usually, the value proposition is the product or service itself. This is a highly committed form of smoke testing because it requires actually collecting money from the customer and usually carries a very strong implicit (if not legal) promise to deliver the product or service at a later date. Pre-sales are also known as pre-orders, vaporware, or vaporgoods.
Does the prospect know our product does not yet exist? If not, the pre-sales campaign can be considered a true smoke test and will have different dynamics and results than if the prospect is aware of this fact.
Most crowdfunding campaigns are in fact pre-sales campaigns. Pre-sales campaigns can also rely on online platforms built from scratch, or on platforms like Celery.
The MVP for the pre-sales campaign can include a description of the value proposition, product renderings, mock-ups, simulations, a promotional video, customer testimonials, and so on.
Is the customer actually willing to pay money for the value proposition?
Audience selection strategy
One week to 90 days. Most successful crowdfunding pre-sales campaigns involve 30 days of pre-promotion and a 40-day campaign duration (70 days total).
Create your MVP (renderings or simulations, promotional media, pricing, testimonials, etc.).
Establish your pre-sales ecommerce platform.
Promote and launch your campaign.
Measure results (conversions and total orders).
Eric Reis: "“If you’re worried about disappointing some potential customers – don’t be. Most of the time, the experiments you run will have a zero percent conversion rate – meaning no customers were harmed during the making of this experiment.
And if you do get a handful of people taking you up on the offer, you’ll be able to send them a nice personal apology.
And if you get tons of people trying to take you up on your offer – congratulations. You probably have a business.
Hopefully that will take some of the sting out of the fact that you had to engage in a little trickery.”
Confirmation bias: Make sure your pre-sales success extends beyond your friends and family.
False negative: You might be targeting your smoke test with an invalid target audience.
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