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This Founder Created a Genius Way to Do Market Testing on the Cheap

Time to get creative.

By Alexandra Zissu

Michele Monet Photography

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

How do you market test a new product when you can't pay for testing? Joelle Mertzel found a sneaky solution -- and it cost only $39. Here's how she developed her new butter dish, Butterie.

The research

Mertzel wanted to make a flip-top dish so that butter could be stored unrefrigerated -- safe up to 21 days, and so soft! -- without smearing all over the lid. But would people want it? "Thorough research is the key," says Mertzel, who used to own a PR agency. "You don't want to spend all your money and time on a product no one will buy." She began by surveying people from her daily life. Her next step: formal market research on her prototype dish. A consultant quoted $10,000 to see if 40 to 60 percent of people would buy the product. (If so, it's viable.) Mertzel didn't have that money, but she had an idea: If she went to places where people were sitting around doing nothing, she thought, they'd answer that question.

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