”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 first test the market if their is a need for your product
- it’s a great opportunity to get feedback from your users and use these feedback to develop you product further
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 finished product or service offering. The problem with this method is you can spend so much time and money in planning and production stage only to find out that nobody is buying it.
Examples of MVP in business startups
A good example of an MVP would be an app with the most basic feature sold for $1. The app company will list it on app stores to see if they get enough downloads (do we have enough people wanting our product?) By tracking what 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 online shop for, say, T-shirts. Before investing on a website, they will start with a Facebook page and list items on Amazon and Ebay. Before producing a big inventory, they start with a few pieces to learn which style sells 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 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 in this video series, we did some quick interviews while in an industry event and published the video on our social channels. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t get as much likes as we hoped for so we pushed it 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.
How the Lean Startup has helped my personal growth
I’m such a firm believer of this method that I use it as my online handle (@leanmuse) and applied it to scale my career and personal growth.
A year ago today I was in an operations role and was gearing into getting certified as a Project Manager. I’ve been in operations for the past decade and I’ve always just assumed this is the career path that I will take. Before investing on the PM course, I searched for online PM roles and realised there are not much opportunities for online project managers – mostly are on site. With my kids being so young, this is just not an option for me.
But I did find a lot of remote opportunities for digital marketing. The thing is I’ve always worked in operations for marketing agencies but there’s a part of me who wants to do more creative and strategic work. I considered taking some digital marketing courses but knowing that ‘you don’t learn until you launch’ I just went for it and landed my dream job working as a marketing strategist for a super cool tech company.
If I didn’t know about lean startup I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to apply for that role until I have some digital certifications behind me. And most importantly it gave me the confidence that I can learn everything I need to learn on the job – and learn quick I did.
The Lean Startup methodology has fuelled some of the most successful businesses and greatest innovation in the world today. At the heart of it is customer-centricity – creating products and services that people want and need.