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Listicles — a simple technique for benchmarking your value proposition against alternatives

Level of difficultyMedium
Reading time5 min

Once upon a time there was a Product Manager

I have a killer product idea! It will be the “most awesomest” product out there. It will have this cool feature and this shiny interface, and blockchain, and AI, and a gravity gun, and blackjack, and... you know...

Should my team go build it? Or should I first test if someone cares enough to buy it?

The case for demand validation

Ok, the books say I must validate the demand first, so let's be the diligent Senior Product Manager we should be and test if people want it before we build it.

We need to make sure that:

  1. there is a real pain in the market that my cool product is a solution to.

  2. the market is aware of the pain and cares enough to solve it.

  3. my cool product can solve that pain point.

  4. my cool product is a substantially better solution than the alternatives in the eyes of the market

  5. I can communicate the value of my cool product in such a way as to motivate the market to choose it over the alternatives

  6. with my intended pricing it will be competitive and attractive

oof, that's a lot of work! I'd rather just go build it, but fine.

Techniques for demand validation

What options for demand testing techniques do I have? Well, there are qualitative and quantitative methods, and I need both.

Qualitative method is relatively straightforward - I just need to interview enough people from the target market to dig into their jobs to be done, struggles and needs. They can also tell me about the alternative solutions they currently use to have their jobs done.

Quantitative method, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. I can always do a landing page test, but there are a few challenges with it:

  1. Driving traffic to such a page is difficult and expensive, especially in a competitive market.

  2. It's as much of a test for my ad, as it is for my product, and getting the ad right, considering its small size, is quite difficult and is a distraction.

  3. But most importantly - I won't know how my solution can be compared to the available alternatives. There is no benchmark for the results I will get.

I have an idea though...

The listicles (list articles)

You know these "Top N something something" kind of articles? Like:

  • 5 best GPS vehicle trackers

  • The 14 hair growth products that actually work

  • Top 10 Best CRM Software Tools in 2023

They are often referred to as "listicles" - articles presented in the form of a list.

They basically help you bypass doing your own research of possible solutions to a problem and present you with the best solutions to choose from.

They also offer an objective impartial analysis, rather than giving you a sales pitch designed to overstate benefits and downplay the drawbacks.

I love them - they make picking a new phone, a movie to watch, an app to install much easier. I also use them at work all the time while looking for solutions to everyday challenges.

So what if we use one of them to benchmark our product against the best available alternatives?

Plan of action

Ok, here's my plan:

  1. I will research available alternatives to solve the pain point my cool product is designed to solve.

  2. I will write a "Top 5 solutions to {pain X}" article, where my cool product is one of those solutions.

  3. I will make sure my article is an objective impartial analysis. I will not overstate my cool product's benefits and downplay its drawbacks. I will also be equally honest about the alternatives.

  4. I will compare all solutions to the benefits I think my audience cares about the most, like price, ease of use, feature set and documentation.

  5. I will host this article on a neutral domain (not on my product's website), but make sure I have access to the analytics.

  6. I will promote this article using ads. It should be way easier and cheaper than promoting a specific solution as people generally don't like being sold to.

  7. I will track the visitor behavior - what they do once on the page, which links they click, and which text they select. I might even do screen recordings of their actions (like HotJar) to understand how they behave on the page.

  8. I will test how easy it is to drive traffic to this page. If people don't click it, it might mean that the pain point I am solving is not that important to my target market.

  9. I will test how popular my solution is compared to the alternatives.

  10. I will iterate on my value proposition until I am happy with how often users pick my solution.

Disciplining your thinking

 I already see the benefits of disciplining my thinking just from writing this article.

  1. It forces me to clearly understand the problem I am solving.

  2. I have to research the best available solutions to the problem.

  3. I have no choice other than to think about differentiation very early.

Possible outcomes

Once I have this listicle up and getting traffic, here are possible outcomes:

  1. It is possible I won't be able to drive significant traffic to the page. Since my market is established and not super-niche, that must mean that the market doesn't care enough about the problem.

  2. Most obviously, visitors can prefer the alternatives over mine. I pretty much expect that in the first iteration. From this point, I can A/B test various versions of my product's value prop to get a good performance.

  3. I can get to a point where I have a good number of visitors and a good conversion rate for my cool product compared to the alternatives. This will give me the confidence to build the product and expect demand for it.


I believe listicles have a huge potential for testing demand hypotheses.

  1. Writing one can discipline your thinking, forcing you to think through the problem, alternative solutions and differentiation at an early stage.

  2. They are easier to promote, making demand validation more accessible.

  3. They validate the problem by showing you early if people don't care enough to read it.

  4. They give you a benchmark of your value proposition against the best alternatives.

Have you tried using listicles for your demand validation? If so - let us know in the comments how this worked for you.

Meet the author: Aleksei Badianov

Aleksei Badianov
Aleksei Badianov

Aleksei Badianov is an accomplished and respected professional in the field of Product Management, known for his impressive achievements and exceptional leadership. With a primary focus on developing delivery route optimization solutions, Aleksei has successfully served numerous delivery and distribution companies across 12 countries. Through his innovative approach, he has optimized an impressive daily volume of over 100,000 deliveries, resulting in significant environmental benefits by reducing CO2 emissions by a remarkable 1,631,320 kg annually.
Beyond the tangible results, Aleksei's impact goes far beyond numbers. He has played a pivotal role in driving positive transformations within leading companies and cutting-edge startups. His unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth has kept him at the forefront of the rapidly evolving Product Management landscape.Throughout his career, Aleksei has consistently showcased his exceptional leadership skills by effectively leading teams of various sizes, ranging from 10 to 50 members, in both dynamic startup and corporate environments. His deep understanding of Product Management principles, coupled with his visionary approach, has yielded remarkable achievements and successful outcomes.

Aleksei's contributions and expertise have garnered recognition from esteemed Product Management communities, prestigious educational institutions, and mentoring platforms. He has become a trusted advisor and mentor, generously sharing his knowledge and insights to guide and empower aspiring Product Managers on their own career journeys.

With an unrelenting drive for improvement and a passion for innovation, Aleksei Badianov remains a highly sought-after professional in the Product Management field. His exceptional contributions, groundbreaking solutions, and unwavering dedication to personal growth stand as a testament to his remarkable abilities and enduring commitment to making a positive impact within the industry.

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