ImageYour mailing list is a great way to promote your products and stay in touch with your customers. You may not realize it, but it also serves another purpose. You can use your mailing list as a test market for new products and services you may be thinking about offering.

A test market is a limited group of people you offer a product to in order to receive feed back before you put the product up for sale to the general population. Using a test market will allow you to get feedback on your product. Your test market may suggest adding a feature you hadn’t thought of or offer other advice which will be helpful in fine tuning your product.

Your mailing list is a natural choice for a test market, as they have already expressed interest in the type of products you offer. For example, if you have sold an information product on starting a home based business before, perhaps you can use your mailing list of people who have bought that product as a test market for an information product on marketing techniques. You already know they are interested in starting a business; therefore, they would probably appreciate learning how to market their new business.

You can choose to offer your test products at a normal rate, a reduced rate, or even for free. Let them know that you are still working out the “bugs” and that the product you are offering may be different from the finished product you are going to sell to the general public. Letting them know this in advance can ward off any ill feelings; if one of the people on your mailing list buys a test product and later sees a similar product with slightly different features for sale, they may feel they got ripped off.

If you are going to offer the product at a reduced rate or give it away for free, let them know you would appreciate their feedback in exchange. Have a form set up online where the customer can fill out their opinions and advice. Ask them to leave a recommendation that you can use on the landing page once the product is finished.

You can also use your mailing list to get feedback when you are in the development stages of creating an information product. For instance, you can send out an email with a link to a questionnaire form and ask them to fill it out. If you know the general topic you would like to create a product on, you can ask your test market what are their three biggest questions about that topic. If you end up receiving a bunch of questions in the same general areas, you know that is the area of content you would like to focus your product on.

If you have a service based business, you can still use your mailing list as a test market. You can ask what type of services they would like to have. If you offer tangible products, you can ask your test market what type of new products they would like to see you carry and which features can be improved upon in your current inventory.