Being successful in business depends on one thing: selling something that customers will buy at a cost they can afford.
Not achieving that goal is the No. 1 reason companies fail. Building a series of minimum viable products (MVPs) allows you to create products you know people will buy, thereby minimizing your risk. Here is how you should build your MVPs to get the results you want.
Focus on the Problem that Sells
The goal of your product is for people to purchase it; it’s not enough for customers to merely say they want something. Conversations with your customers to find out what they want can be a good thing and teach you a lot, but those conversations are not MVPs.
The point of an MVP is to test whether a product is something customers will purchase. The key is to focus on whether something is viable, or something that could be a functioning business.
If you are an engineer you might focus on whether it is feasible to make, or if you are in sales you might be concerned whether your product is desirable. But if your product does not make enough money to be self-sustaining, the other two don’t matter.
Therefore, your MVP should be sold and not given away.
Selling your MVP is the only way to determine whether your customers will buy the product. The goal should be to sell your MVP to the minimally sufficient number of customers.
You want to expose your product to enough people so you get a good understanding of which customers would be interested. At the same time, you don’t want to expose your entire customer base to a product that’s not yet finished.
The idea is to design your MVP roll-out to ensure that you can release a product, learn how your customers respond to it, and then make changes based on those observations.
For this to work, you need to give yourself enough time and space to react to your customer’s response.
If you put too much effort and features into your early MVP, it might be difficult to alter your product based on what you learn. However, you need to make sure you don’t try to overcompensate when you scale back features in early prototypes. When some designers start building their MVP, they often focus on the “minimum” part of the term. This is a mistake because in their rush to build a simple, minimal product they don’t ensure the product is viable, which provides poor data for them to use when they try to make improvements.
When designing your tests and MVP to assess your assumptions, consider the following four factors:
- Persona: This refers to the customer you are targeting with your product. It describes the basic, relevant characteristics that you need to address with your product.
- Problem Scenario: This describes the situation you are trying to address with your product.
- Alternative: This facet describes how your customers are currently dealing with the situation your product is meant to address.
- Value Proposition: This describes why your customer should buy your product to address your problem scenario and details why it is better than the alternative.
Identify, Prioritize, Maximize From Assumptions
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I sharpened a sense of community when I was a little boy. We were a dozen of kids sharing our lives in playing football and taking part in local competitions to prove we were the best team in the city. When things were rough, I remember selling artifacts to the neighbourhood together or waking up [...]