5 rules for building a successful MVP strategy
Maybe, the best example, which explains the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) strategy, is “….Got Talent” shows. Think about it. At the first performance the participants have basically nothing but their talent and their home-made performance to say “Hello, World”. They have about one minute to reach WOW effect and find out whether or not their idea has desirable impact on the audience. And if they manage to surprise like Susan Boyle, they begin develop and grow to become well-known stars.
Minimum viable product often misguides those, who are willing to use this strategy to start a new project. As the standard definition “a strategy for fast and quantitative market testing” happens to be narrow and a bit misleading, experts discuss other important features of successful MVPs. And while the number of pros and cons continues to grow, more articles and even books appear.
Having used MVP in projects PeopleSmart.com and Archives.com and several mobile apps we found it very useful. So we have summarized top rules that can help to put MVP thinking into action.
Rule #1: correct focus
MVP helps to focus on the key problems, your potential customers experience and define core features of a future product. Using this technique you will establish main priorities for yourself and your team (which can be challenging) and be sure the problem you are solving is worth tackling. Correct targeting is important at this point; avoid mainstream audience. Set your customers’ attention in the right way and get to the right audience for the first trial. Remember, that you are actually selling the vision of future product and the idea of what that simple tool they are playing with today can become.
Rule #2: minimalism
Minimalism in this case means: the smartest test to prove your idea is good or to prove it is worthless. Begin with defining the simplest technique to run the project and finding the ways to make it different from already existing products. Try to deliver your idea cost effectively so that customers were ready to pay. Balance between your customers’ wishes and your own vision. While dealing with all those tasks you also will have to choose the right platform for a quick and cheap start. The range of possibilities is quite wide. Whether it will be a WordPress site, Youtube, Google Docs or even email doesn’t matter. It is the creative idea that makes things roll.
Rule #3: balance
The key to success is a long-term thinking. MVP is not only about minimalizing your effort after all; it is also about being viable. Development of the product can move in various directions and it is not always clear which way is right. Be flexible and interact closely with the customers, so that you won’t waste your time on no-profit ideas. At this stage you can also analyze and understand market needs better. That is, before answering the question “how we can make the product and what resources we need”, think if the market needs this solution at all. Funny as it may sound, many projects fail at this very point. Basically “Viability” helps to check whether your product focuses on your customers essential needs in an innovative way. So look for the balance between viability and minimizing.
Rule #4: testing
In MVP testing is about understanding if your product is solving your customers’ problem and their readiness to pay for it. Besides, testing reveals the market capabilities and company resources. Ways to gather and analyze users’ responses are very diverse. Most effective are customer Interviews, Landing Pages, A/B Tests, Ad Campaigns, Fundraising, Explainer Videos, Piecemeal MVPs, SaaS & PaaS, Blogs, Manual-First (aka “Wizard of Oz”) MVP, Concierge MVPs, Digital Prototypes, Paper Prototypes, Single-Feature MVPs, Pre-Order Pages. Look for a perfect and easy tool to summarize the data, like Google Analytics, KISSmetrics or CrazyEgg, try to use existing tools instead of building your own infrastructure. An upright combination of different platforms can make a good version of your ideas.
Rule #5: do not fail
Despite the common belief, only 30-40% of projects do fail, so your chances for success are quite high. Experts suggest three general approaches to escape unhappy results: 1) Use your intuition. 2) Talk to domain experts. 3) Start with the 3 universal risks.
Seemingly endless number of failure risks can be reduced to three categories: product, customer and market. Main questions you have to ask yourself to uncover a problem in each category should be the following. Product: is the problem you are solving worth your energy, are you using the simplest technique, have you verified a large scale.
Customer: have you defined your customers correctly, have you identified their needs correctly, is your communication process efficient. Market: does your pricing correspond to the existing competition, what alternative solutions can you suggest, or is your If you wish to dig in MVP we highly recommend the book “THE GUIDE TO MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCTS”.
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