Pilot Testing in Marketing
The pilot testing methodology of marketing objects, catalysts and proposals is complementary to any design or R&D method a company uses.
The pilot testing process of the marketing solutions includes the participation of a group that is integrated by a coordinator, a fallacy-shooter and an ombudsman/woman:
I) The Coordinator is responsible for guiding the group towards the objectives that have been defined.
The coordinator has the full responsibility for the diagnoses and for achieving the results that have been defined as being possible to be achieved. The participants also have full responsibility for the results after they agreed that such results are possible.
II) The “Fallacy-Shooter” is responsible for assuring the quality of the foundations and justifications in the decision-making processes.
The “Fallacy-Shooter” is the person responsible for guiding the action-reflection-action process in order to improve the accuracy of the diagnoses and of the work processes.
III) The “Ombudsman/woman” is responsible for monitoring the value generation of the design processes.
The “Ombudsman/woman” is responsible for monitoring that the proposals respond to the functional needs of the solutions that are required; s/he guarantees results. S/he represents the “user” and is responsible for generating value to the environment.
There are two types of tests:
a) Pilot tests of the design of marketing solutions to confirm their functionality
b) Destructive pilot tests to confirm the limits of the solutions
a) The Pilot Testing Process
The pilot testing process of the design follows these steps to ensure results:
- Development of the first functional prototype
- 1st Test group
- Development of the 2nd prototype
- 2nd Test group
- Development of the 3rd prototype
- 3rd Test in real application
- Destructive pilot testing
Until the 2nd pilot test, what is being tested is the functionality of the value propositions using Semiotic Groups. It allows defining the aspects of the value propositions that need to be changed in order to fit into the needs that are being covered. The final confirmation is given by the use of destructive tests.
b) Destructive Pilot Testing
The methodology for destructive pilot tests aims at measuring the achievement of the objectives of a process or function and the limits of the functionality of the knowledge that sustains these actions.
Destructive tests are based on having a confirmed functionality. When they do not work, they are not destructive tests, they are pilot tests that confirm the functionality of a solution.
The destructive pilot testing of a value proposition for a predefined conceptual segment confirms that the results have been achieved while the boundaries are being extended, beyond the predefined limits of the segment, in order to find the limits of the functionality of the proposition.
There are four steps to develop destructive tests:
1) Developing Substitute Clinics
This approach implies using a real value proposition and comparing this solution with its substitutes.
- In the case of products, in a demand driven market, it requires defining the strengths and the weaknesses of these proposition compared with the substitutes.
- In the case of a supply driven markets, the comparison of these substitute clinics requires comparing also with the needs of the customers, which requires developing semiotic groups to confirm them.
- In the case of innovative products or products that have a high level of differentiation, there can be no comparison with substitutes and the comparison is between the needs of the customers and the value propositions.
2) Expanding the Limits
The expansion of the limits of applications occurs after the comparison with substitutes has been generated and it has been demonstrated that the value proposition is functional and generates buying intentions.
To do so, it is necessary to define the hard characteristics of the adjacent segments to approach them. This step of the destructive tests is based on the use of semiotic groups to define the aspects that allow positioning as a first choice in adjacent segments.
It also requires either finding the catalysts that correspond to the new segments that need to be developed or confirming that they can be influenced by the same catalysts.
This process ends when the limits of the applicability have been found.
3) Succedaneum Clinics
It implies developing the same process of comparing with substitutes but in this case the comparison is with succedanea (see step 1). This stage is the end of the destructive pilot testing process. The success of the marketing strategy has been ensured when this stage has been successfully achieved.
4) Ontological Reverse Engineering
The feedback from pilot tests allows discovering latent needs that are not being covered by the proposals. If the timing is accurate, the development of an ontological reverse engineering process allows finding the conceptual structure of the solution of the latent needs that want to be covered.
The real operation is what defines the final limits of the knowledge that is being tested.