The Beginner’s Guide to No-Cost Market Research

I have a client I’ll call Sandy, who is starting a new business. She’s been running a successful non-profit organization for 4 years and she’s been freelance writing for at least a decade, but as she was moving into a more product-centered business, she was floundering. She scheduled a couple events that didn’t fill and she created at least 1 product that no one is buying.

This surprised me because her offerings have sounded great to me, even though I haven’t bought them myself. I couldn’t imagine what the problem was! Since she is a friend and since her company is new, I agreed to a commission-only consulting engagement, something I rarely do, but I really felt she had something and I knew she couldn’t pay me up front.

I needed to find a low cost way to find a hit product without spending much time. I took to an unlikely media – a teleseminar. My contention was, if I could create a teleseminar that people would sign up for that I’d start to get a sense of what product would work.

To start the first test, I created a 1-hour free event with the title my client had been using. I knew it wasn’t SEO friendly but I wanted a baseline for comparison. The event was targeted at exhausted moms of 6 to 12 year olds and the copy was focused on taking more naps and self-care, which sounded exactly like what tired moms needed to me!

Once the event was live (I just used Eventbrite to create the program description), I asked a few friends that fit the demographic of upscale moms of elementary and middle school aged kids to post the description of the event on their Facebook pages.

I created a conversion metric based on some pretty imprecise data. I added the friends of all 6 folks who posted the event on their pages (1,944) and I assumed once you took out duplicate friends, groups and organization, and busy people, that only 10% of that number would actually see the message about the free teleconference (that’s 194 exposures). It’s a small N but from there I was able to track clicks or visits to the Eventbrite page using Google Analytics (9) and conversions, NONE. That’s right! NONE! Somewhere between 9 and 1,944 (probably around 194) people saw the ad and NONE were interested in the free product.

None is not an ideal baseline, but that was the data we had to work with so I dug in. I created a second product. This one was more closely related to her non-profit and targeted pregnant women – specifically pregnant women who were afraid of having difficult, painful, or stressful child birth experiences.

Again I created the invitation to a 1-hour free teleseminar on Eventbrite and again I had friends in the demographic (this time just 3) post the event on their pages. This time 1,798 people had the potential to see the posting, but I’ll assume 180 or so actually did. Within 48 hours 868 people had come to the Eventbrite page and 95 people had registered for the free event. I don’t need to run the actual numbers to see there is a world of difference there!

Clearly, just hosting a free event does not indicate a related product would be a hit, but certainly we can agree a product around the second idea has a much better chance of succeeding given the we continue to test assumptions before we build.

Once the free teleseminar is complete, I plan to do an email nurture campaign which will provide content of high value to these prospects and eventually introduce products that are offered at a price. Before I even have Sandy create the products, I’m going to see if I can get clicks to those pages of people interested in learning more. That will take some refining but at least I know I’m fishing in the right pond.



  1. Hi Angela! THANK YOU for posting such a terrific article straight from real life.

    I’ve been having exactly the same experience and your article has reminded me how important testing is. Now, instead of dreading the next event, I can’t wait to see how my changes impact the results.

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