One of the most effective ways to pilot test a UVP is to write it up as 1-2 sentences and read it to as many people as you can. I appreciate that in a perfect test, you would put that description (or, better yet, the product itself) in front of customers. Obviously, that may not be viable for any number of reasons: you cannot easily access many potential customers; you are concerned about wasting potential customers’ time and/or patience; you cannot easily make a prototype, etc. For the vast majority of innovations, the wisdom of the crowd can be quite powerful.
In many of my entreperneurship courses, students are required to “socialize the innovation.” They work in groups to identify an opportunity or innovation to study during the term. For the “socializing the innovation” assignment, each team member must provide the description of the innovation to ten people (usually friends and family) and record their responses. The team then collages the 40-50 responses to look for patterns. Students and teams usually start out very skeptical of this assignment, because they are relying on unstated assumptions about potential customers. Almost inevitably, the teams report extremely insightful patterns, ideas, suggestions, and new possibilities from the activity.
Your assignment, therefore, is quite simple. Write down your best UVP in a few sentences, and read it (or email it, post it to facebook/Twitter, etc.) to as many people as you can. Fifty is good; one hundred is better. Now, get someone to help you review all this data. The best option is someone who is not familiar with the opportunity; you want someone who is objective and analytical. The preferred output of this assignment is a set of bullet points or conclusions about whether the UVP is compelling and clear. Do people understand it relatively quickly? Can they see the link to target customer needs? Or is there a lot of skepticism about the UVP? Do they consistently offer other options or suggestions?
It is very important to keep an open mind during this simple experiment. If your innovation is complex, radical or counter-intuitive, it is reasonable to expect that feedback may be inconsistent, especially while you are still formulating the UVP. But if you repeat the experiment and get similar results, you need to carefully consider whether or not the problem is the audience, the message, or the opportunity itself.