I have a rough homework assignment for you, entrepreneurs: Go visit a comedy club.

More specifically, try to find your favorite big name comedian working at a small club. Jay Leno, for example, usually appears in Hermosa Beach, California (just outside of L.A.) every Sunday.

At these often unbilled appearances, usually the comedians are only on stage for a few minutes, typically with notes in hand.

What they are doing is trying out material.

As you watch them work--and that is exactly what this is, work, as in research for them--don't pay all that much attention to the jokes, study their process.

Of course they want to know what's funny and what isn't.

But you'll see if you go back for a second night or a third, they are going far deeper than that. They want to know if it's better to set up the joke by saying X, or Y; they are trying to figure out when they should take a pause; should the new joke work in combination with an old one, or serve as a transition to the next bit?

In other words, they are dissecting their product--their future stand-up routine--down to the granular level and then they rebuild it from there.

Are you doing the same thing, when you are thinking about introducing a new product?

You should be.

Early on in the creation process it is remarkably easy and cheap to test what you have. Between online surveys and empty space in a mall you can get detailed feedback from your customers quickly and at little cost.

And because you are at the start of the creation process changes are easy. You can keep tweaking until you have something that truly resonates.

It is the best way to create the new.

This kind of preparation can be summed with four letters: ALBR

Act. You show people what you have, much like the comedian unveils the joke he has been working on.

Learn. You study their reaction. Did they like overall premise. (Did they think the joke was funny.) What did they tell you through their reaction about how your product (the joke) could be improved.

Build off that learning. Incorporate the feedback that makes sense.

Repeat. Show the second iteration to customers (just like the comedian will tell the revised joke at the next show); learn from this reaction and so forth.

This process works.

No joke.

Published on: Aug 20, 2014
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