”Fail early to succeed sooner” – Tim Brown, Founder, IDEO
I first came across the concept of MVP when reading the book ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. MVP or Minimum Viable Product is the most basic product you can release to the market for the purpose of testing and feedback for future product development. For startups and new businesses with limited resources, this is highly valuable because:
- you can test market viability
- it’s a great opportunity to get feedback from your users for product development
This concept veers away from what I’ve been thought in business school fifteen years ago that before you can launch, you have to have a solid business plan, a winning business model and a complete product or service offering. The problem with this methodology is you can spend so much time and money in planning and production stage only to find out that nobody wants it.
Examples of MVP in business startups
An example of an MVP would be an app with the most basic feature sold for $1 for the purpose of seeing how many downloads to gauge interest. Also, by tracking which features of the app are popular and what’s hardly used – they can focus on developing and enhancing the popular features instead of wasting time creating features that no one would use.
Another example would be an e-commerce shop for, say, T-shirts. Before investing on a website, you can start with a Facebook page and list items on Amazon and Ebay. Before producing a big inventory, you can stock a few pieces to learn which items sell the most.
The purpose of this early launch stage is testing to know what your customers really want – you can do all the market research and product designing but, really – you don’t learn until you launch.
Applying the concept of MVP in your marketing strategy
In my current role, when crafting a marketing strategy for bigger campaigns, I always apply the lean startup methodology even if I have historical data to back up my idea and all my instinct tells me it will work. This method has saved me a lot of time and company resources.
For example, when running PPC campaigns, I would always start with a small budget, A/B testing a variety set of ads before scaling and running the winning ad set.
Another example was when we had the idea of producing a series of high production videos. Before spending thousands of dollars on this video series, we did some quick partner interviews at a conference and published the video on our social channels. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t get as much engagement s as we hoped so we pushed the project down our priority list. And knowing what we know now, we will not use an interview format if ever we end up going ahead with the video project.
The Lean Startup methodology has fuelled some of the most successful businesses and the greatest innovation in the world today. At the heart of it is customer-centricity – creating products and services that people want and need.