Launching a startup is like sending a message in a bottle. If the message is not clear, no one will come to visit your lonely island or send you a postcard back.Message in a bottle

When you launch your startup, your online presence (i.e. website, twitter account, facebook page, etc) and the buzz you manage to create online via the online official and unofficial press are the message you are passing to your users. If the message is not clear you can lose a lot of attention.

Before launching your startup you might want to test your messaging. I propose two very simple tests that can serve as rather good markers to determine if your message is clear.

Tests Rules:

  • Each of the tests should be given to 2 different people
  • These people should have no prior knowledge of your startup and what it does
  • One person should be a Non-Techie – someone not from the tech industry who is known to have little to no technical background. The other should be a Techie – someone from the tech industry that can eventually ask a question along the lines of “How are you going to implement this?” and understand the answer.
  • Each test should have a different set of people, you cannot reuse people from one test in the other test.

Test #1 – One sentence or less (or the 140 character pitch)

Tell each of the 2 people in one sentence or less what your startup does. If they don’t ask for additional clarification then you can consider that your message is rather clear. If they don’t ask for additional clarification, but are rather intrigued by your startup and message you can safely assume your message is clear enough and your startup does interest them.

Test #2 – The blind website test

Show your website to the 2 people without saying a word. Ask them to read what is written and explain to you what they think your startup is about. If they can explain it and understand completely what you are doing you can be certain enough that your web site message is clear even to new users who has no prior knowledge of what your startup does.

If you did not pass one of the test, try it again on a different set of people (just to make sure these 4 are not a statistical anomaly). If the result is still the same try to revise your messaging and, as always, remember to rinse and repeat.