To get noticed efficiently, test before you invest. This polling platform will help you do just that.
By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
John Li, the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PickFu, was on the recent episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur where he talked about his product that has grown virally and helps companies and entrepreneurs to understand and test before they invest. Their platform has tens of thousands of people you can poll in real time. With different formats of content available, it can help you make decisions about what’s the right product to use and how to market it.
Image from PickFu
The Story Behind PickFu
PickFu is the best way to get real consumer feedback on decisions that matter for your business. It delivers consumer insight in minutes. You should think of it as an online focus group, but far faster and easier than traditional focus groups.
He and his Co-Founder Justin Chen have been serial entrepreneurs, and they’ve been building businesses online for a long time. PickFu came out of a need that they had, which was about getting real unbiased feedback on their design decisions (e.g., testing a certain colour on a website or a logo).
Being entrepreneurs, the truth is that their friends and family have become tired of them asking what they think about certain things or if they prefer this one or that one. First, they’re not their target audience, and they're biased because they didn’t want to hurt their feelings. They were available, but they were absolutely the wrong audience to be asking for such kind of opinion.
Being engineers, nerds, and product people that they were, they built a tool to be able to get that unbiased feedback for the business decisions that matter to them. They didn’t want to go to coffee shops and ask random strangers.
The tool they built is called PickFu. And they put it on the side as they built their main business. Then, it started growing virally and organically on its own through word of mouth. Every time they took a break from the main business, they looked over PickFu and found it growing. At some point, the side business became their main business.
The Advantages of Polling
One of the sayings that they have is that PickFu helps you know what sells before you sell it.
Image from PickFu
One of their biggest customer segments is people who sell online, particularly Amazon sellers. They can do a pretest with PickFu — either a product design, product packaging, or product variations.
For example, if you're selling a teapot: Should the handle be shaped this way or that way? How about packaging? You can do all this in a private sandbox with their respondents and get written feedback very fast before they actually go out in the market.
People who are already selling online and have a product or a listing on Amazon can split-test different images without risking sales by doing live A/B testing. They can test it in PickFu’s sandbox to get votes from their panellists and written responses.
This will help you understand what motivates your target consumer. You can iterate on those design choices to make better creatives, increasing your click-through rates and sales.
Who are in the PickFu Panel?
The PickFu panel is composed of tens of thousands of respondents in the US (They are working on international expansion).
They source these respondents from the same panels from which enterprise market research firms source their panellists. There’s a network of market research panels out there. They power the same surveys you see during election times with political polling.
What they at PickFu have done is build a layer that stitches a lot of these panels together with a layer of demographic targeting. With that, you can micro-target the type of consumer that you want.
There’s also a layer of quality control. They use human and machine learning algorithms to ensure the responses are high quality and human. And this is why their customers keep coming back to them — they can get high-quality feedback from these panellists.
Image from PickFu
How PickFu Helped a Pet Product Boost Sales
In the Amazon seller space, there are entities called aggregators. They’re buying small "mom-and-pop" sellers — individual sellers — on Amazon. They're investing their resources to improve the product and improve the packaging on an already well-performing listing to turbocharge it and refurbish that listing to increase sales.
One of the first and largest aggregators is named Thrasio, and they purchased a pet deodoriser called Angry Orange a couple of years back. It was a wonderful product and it worked well, but the design was a little outdated. Their theory was that if they can buy this product, rebrand it, change the packaging, make it brighter — and keep the formula the same — they could increase sales.
They developed over a hundred different designs of the bottle and went and priced it out. The design they wanted would’ve cost them $50,000 to go through and do the repackaging. It was a bright orange-coloured bottle, and they needed validation.
Thrasio turned to PickFu and ran a couple of hundred dollars in polls targeting dog owners. They tested out the new branding versus the old branding, read the results, understood, and got their validation that the rebrand would be worth it and that people liked it. Then, they moved forward with the rebrand.
After they did the rebrand — the day that they switched the listings on Amazon — their sales grew almost 10 times. Angry Orange went from a $2 million-dollar-a-year brand to a $20 million-dollar-a-year one just due to changing the packaging and the bottle, but not the formula.
Image from PickFu
An Accessible, Versatile Custom Insights Platform
John and their team worked hard to make PickFu as easy, accessible and cost-effective as possible for independent entrepreneurs. Pricing starts at $1 per respondent, and you can choose between 15 to 500 respondents on your poll. This is all self-service. And the pricing scales based on the number of people you choose and the complexity of the targeting and poll you're putting in front of them.
On PickFu, you can test anywhere between one to eight options. If you're testing one thing, you just get feedback like in a focus group. If you're testing eight things, the panellists are choosing in a ranked-choice way what they prefer and also writing and telling you why. You can test, images, audio, video, and text — basically any format and in a comparative way.
For example, they’ve had companies test their jingles. They themselves at PickFu tested voiceovers for specific scripts that they wanted running. They also have game companies testing videos of gameplay walkthroughs and animation. Many marketing companies are also testing ads: They’re pre-testing ads before they put that spend out in the marketplace.
Once you launch a poll, it launches immediately. It’s answered on a first-come-first-served basis by qualifying panellists. Most polls finish in under an hour.
You'll get a webpage with the question you posted, your creatives, and a written response from every single panellist — plus demographic information of each panellist and a demographic breakdown of all the panellists who answered as well.
From there, you can just share that link with your teammates to go through and analyse the results together. The platform also allows downloading as a CSV and PDF file for you to share with your team.
Image from Pexels
Picking PickFu’s Name with the Tool’s Help
When they were naming PickFu, they wanted it to be short, two-syllable, and available as a dot-com domain. They made a huge list of names, and they wanted it to be able to serve as a verb. They narrowed it down to their top 10 choices and ran the list through PickFu, the tool. They used PickFu to choose the name PickFu.
Their thought is that “Fu” sort of represents mastery, as in “Kung Fu” or “Google-Fu.” “Pick” helps you choose options. The final name is fairly catchy and memorable, and people generally say that they like it.
At its core, their tool is a way to communicate with your core market. And they at PickFu take that approach very much to heart: All the ways they’ve grown the brand involved speaking with their customers a lot. They're constantly in communication with them.
As mentioned, they grew organically before even putting a lot of effort into it. Once they started focusing on it, they spoke with many of their customers and tried to understand the nature of these customers and how their tool and product is helping them.
They were also finding where these customers are residing — and by “residing,” they mean online. Is it in online communities? Forums? Courses? They were trying to find where they spend their time and worked with those communities to at least make them aware that there was a product that might help their community. Those communities could be Facebook groups, Discord servers, online courses, and educators.
PickFu’s Affiliate Program
PickFu also has an affiliate program. When they went to these communities, they realised that most aren't purely organic. There are usually one or two individuals who are creating these communities.
And so they would work with the leaders of those communities, offering them an affiliate program to have them be an advocate for PickFu.
Obviously, it's not a great idea to pitch an affiliate program for a tool that doesn't work. Hence, it’s important to demonstrate value to these potential affiliates and show that you have a tool that can serve and help their audience.
This was PickFu’s main focus, particularly in the Amazon space, where there are a lot of course creators and coaches. Initially, it was a lot of demos and calls and saying they had a tool that could be useful for their business and students.
Tapping into the US Audience
Their core panel right now is the US audience. That means if you sell a product where the end consumer is a US audience, PickFu is valuable for you. That applies whether you're based in the US; it's even more applicable if you're located outside of the US.
Image from Freepik
For instance, the platform has a lot of Chinese and European e-commerce sellers who use the tool because their culture is very different from their target customer's culture. In terms of branding decisions and writing copy and value propositions, PickFu is valuable for them to understand how their target customer will respond.
Going back to talking to customers, PickFu has been hearing from their customers that they not only sell to or target the US audience, but they are also trying to sell in the UK, Australia, Germany, and other countries. This is why PickFu is also working on expanding their panels to be in those countries. They’re currently beta-testing, and they should be releasing it fairly soon.
They’re also working on localising. If you’re a US entrepreneur selling to Germany, they could potentially auto-translate and let you target German speakers.
Test Before You Invest
If there’s one tip he’d give a fellow unnoticed entrepreneur on getting noticed, it would be to test before you invest.
The success of your business as you’re building it is based on many micro-decisions that too many entrepreneurs are making in a vacuum. When you have an opportunity to make an informed decision, that decision usually ends up with a better chance of success.
Therefore, going out and getting that feedback before you make that decision is highly critical.
To find out more about PickFu, visit www.pickfu.com.
The UnNoticed Entrepreneur podcast is sponsored by Prowly, the all-in-one software for leveraging PR activities. Boost the media relations game for your business - get more coverage while saving time and money on everyday tasks.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.