What do Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and Groupon all have in common?
All four of these wildly successful companies came to market with a minimum viable product (MVP). From there, they were able to implement feedback and create new iterations of their product that were even more useful for their target consumer. Today, they represent some of the largest and most successful companies of the 21st century.
A minimum viable product represents the best opportunity for companies to obtain meaningful information directly from customers while also boosting brand recognition in the marketplace. This article covers the ways in which a MVP can help your business refine a fantastic product while simultaneously increasing brand awareness and adoption in the process.
What Is a Minimum Viable Product?
A minimum viable product is a preliminary version of your product concept. A MVP is usually a bare-bones offering, with just enough of the core functionality and features necessary for customers to begin using the product and providing feedback for your development team.
For most companies, their MVP will differ significantly from the final product that they will eventually deliver to customers. It won’t have all of the critical features and functions of the final offering, and in some cases, it will hardly resemble the finished product.
It can be helpful to think of a MVP as a musician recording a new album. Before they release the album, they record song demos. The demo versions of the final songs often include much of the structure, lyrics, and melodies of the final product, but they don’t have the level of polish and precision that the album version delivers.
With a minimum viable product, the launch is as much about learning and testing, as it is about building brand awareness and winning customers over. At the heart of developing a MVP is a build-measure-learn feedback loop. Build the product. Measure the response. Gather and implement feedback. Repeat.
How a MVP Can Help Your Brand Today
Deciding to build an MVP is arguably the best way for a business to ultimately deliver to customers what they’re looking for.
Through the MVP process, your company will be able to gather critical insight into the customer journey and experience, and you’ll be able to offer them products that best fit their needs as a result. There are various ways in which your business can leverage a minimum viable product to grow your brand and awareness of the products you offer.
Achieving Investor Buy-In
For most startups, the success or failure of the business or product is closely tied to receiving investment funding from investors. It’s virtually impossible to give investors the confidence they need to move forward with your product without instilling that confidence, and developing a MVP is one of the best ways to establish investor confidence and secure their buy-in.
With a MVP, a business is able to develop a foundational product that clearly illustrates how the product is going to solve consumers’ problems. The MVP not only provides proof of concept, but also allows your business to provide potential investors with something tangible before asking for their investment in the company.
Having a MVP can also dramatically accelerate the timeline from when an investor buys into when they receive a return on their investment. You may have an excellent idea, but if investors don’t feel that they’re betting on a winner, you aren’t going to receive their buy-in. It is evident that a MVP instills a sense of comfort and confidence in investors, proving it to be a valuable process for any business.
Puts Business Concepts to the Test Affordably
Developing a minimum viable product is by far the most cost-effective way for a company to put its concepts to the test. It allows businesses to determine if they’re on the right path to a viable business model and a winning solution to the customer’s problems.
Developing a MVP that delivers a core feature set without cost-heavy bells, whistles, and window dressing allows a business to verify their business concept without significant financial risk. Moreover, a lean minimum viable product is also far more agile and malleable than a feature-heavy build-out would be.
For example, say you develop a fully realized version of your product and bring it to the market. It includes all the features you think your users will need, and you’re confident that your target audience is going to fall in love with the product.
What happens if they don’t? What if your customers decide that there are elements of your product that are unnecessary or that the product doesn’t solve their problems? In this case, going back to the drawing board and making significant changes represents a high cost to your business, and that cost can prove crippling for many startups.
Instagram, for example, was initially launched around a proprietary GPS feature that was similar to Foursquare. The first launch was exceptionally small, and after receiving feedback, the stakeholders at Instagram quickly realized their GPS feature was a dud, but the photo-sharing element of the application had the potential to be a major hit.
Since their MVP was lean and agile, their developers were able to quickly implement customer feedback and dedicate resources to building out the photo-sharing functionality that would become the core of the application. Instagram was able to make this pivot with minimal investment, and today, millions of people use the application every day.
A MVP is the Easiest Way to Generate Buzz
Ask any entrepreneur or business owner, and they’ll tell you that one of the most significant challenges to launching a product is getting the buzz and brand awareness they need to make an impact in the marketplace. You could develop the most exciting product in the world, but if consumers aren’t aware of it, then it doesn’t exist.
By launching a MVP, your business is able to immediately begin the complex process of generating brand awareness and buzz around what you’re doing. As early adopters start to use your product, you’ll create a snowball effect as they begin to tell people about it.
Learn More About Your Customer While Building Goodwill
Another benefit of launching a MVP is that it allows you to learn more about your customers while building a rapport in the process. From your perspective, you’re gathering meaningful information about your customers that you can use to refine your product offering. But for the customer, you’re showing you value their input and care about their feedback.
This connection with customers is vital to building trust in your brand and excitement around what you’re bringing to the marketplace. The positive buzz you can build also goes a long way to ensure your brand looks its best online.
Building online reputation and customer excitement is an excellent way to ensure that customers who are curious about your brand are seeing positive interactions with their peers when they search for your company. Online reputation management can help you further amplify positive experiences for customers to see.
Quickly Stake Your Claim to a Concept
Another way that a minimum viable product can help boost your brand is by staking your claim to the product or concept that you’re launching. If you have a great idea, it’s a safe bet that somewhere else in the world, there’s someone working on something similar.
By launching a MVP, your brand can immediately stake a claim to the concept and begin winning over consumers and maybe even generating revenue before your competitors are able to get their ideas off the ground.
MVPs Work Great on a Local Level
Many companies choose to launch their MVP in conjunction with their local marketing campaigns. Launching locally allows brands to begin connecting with customers and gaining valuable consumer insight in a short amount of time, without the need for a national team or a huge marketing budget. There are plenty of examples of great local marketing campaigns that you can review for inspiration.
Tips for Establishing Your Brand With A Minimum Viable Product
Now that you’re ready to begin moving forward with a MVP, here are some tips to help ensure a successful launch.
Lean on Brand Personas While Developing Your MVP
The first iteration of your MVP is going to rely heavily on the strength of your marketing personas. Think long and hard about who is going to use the product, what those people do, what they like and dislike, and what their pain points are.
Accurate brand personas will be crucial for connecting with the first adopters of your product. Plus, if you miss the mark, you’ll know early in the game that it’s time to head back to the drawing board.
Have a Robust Content Strategy
The launch of your MVP will center around content marketing. Channels like a blog, social media, PR, and influencers are excellent ways to drive buzz and adoption around your MVP.
Ramping up your efforts through these channels at launch or just prior will help your MVP hit the ground running.
Be sure to tailor your marketing efforts to the stages of your customer journey. You’ll have people learning about your brand for the first time, potential customers who know your brand and want to learn more, and future brand advocates that have already bought into your vision.
Ensure you’re delivering value with each impression and put an emphasis on connecting with each potential customer at every stage of their journey. Doing so will help generate buzz around your brand while also helping to establish your MVP.
Develop a Compelling Landing Page
Your MVP’s landing page can help you connect with your audience while increasing brand awareness and anticipation for the product. The best landing pages are simple; tell the story of the product, the problems it solves, and how your audience can reach you or learn more. The easier it is for customers to connect with you in this stage, the more buzz you’ll generate.
Strike a Balance With Your MVP
One area where many companies lose sight of when developing their MVP is framing it as an internal tool that’s used to learn more about the market and customer demographics. While these are critical considerations to make, it’s also crucial that the product you’re bringing to market delivers an excellent customer experience.
You’ll need to deliver value to your customers with your MVP while also providing your team with the actionable data that will help them refine the product. You’ll also need to do this as inexpensively as possible.
Put Boots on the Ground
As you prepare to launch your MVP, prioritize getting out into the world and spending time with the target demographic. Your product should be able to provide you with feedback and actionable data after it launches, but there’s no substitute for getting out there, finding your target demographic in the real world, and having real conversations surrounding your product.
With your MVP, one of the primary goals will be to confirm or deny the usefulness of your product. Speak to the users and potential users of your product, find out whether or not it’s useful or exciting to them. If it isn’t, find out why, and then use this information to continue to iterate your MVP.
Prioritize Flexibility in Your Product
For many companies, the most frustrating aspect of developing a MVP is creating something that can scale effortlessly as the product begins to gain traction. From the moment you begin developing your MVP, look to build flexibility into every component, from the data to the technology you’re using to the people who are creating the product.
The more flexibility you can build into your MVP, the easier it will be to scale as it grows.
Launching a minimum viable product is perhaps the best way for a brand to establish buzz and awareness while refining their product in the process. You can launch a MVP quickly and economically, but the insight you gain after launch can prove to be priceless.
Consider the tips we’ve discussed above, along with the insight you’ve developed about your ideal customers. Coupled with your incredible product launch idea, you should be well on your way to developing a winning minimum viable product.