The primary idea of MVP is to optimise validated learning through little amount of effort. According to entrepreneur and author Timothy Ferris, MVP for testing new products consists of a signup page, landing page and Google Adwords to drive traffic.
As many entrepreneurs want to know how to develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for your startup business we are going to discuss the types of process. This particular type of MVP process, proposes that an individual can create an appealing landing page, and write good Adwords copy. Adwords can be a useful distribution channel for a new company or startups product, by driving targeted traffic to the concept or test page.
Startups have a unique characteristic where a product problem and solution are unknown and have not been validated. This makes creating and writing content for an appealing landing page hard to accomplish and good Adwords copy even more difficult.
Some people do try to guess this, but taking such an approach is a delicate way of dumping one’s money on Google Ads and hoping for the best.
Furthermore, the gains on learning are minimal; when one’s click-through-rate is minimal or the rate of bounce is high, an individual gets zero visibility. This can raise a wide range of questions which may include; is zero visibility due to poor product, poor copy or both?
Minimum viable product originally goes back to the concept from Steve Blank, of the “customer problem presentation” highlighted in his book “The Four Steps to Epiphany.”
What is the Customer Problem Presentation?
The concept of a customer problem presentation (CCP) is a kind of scripted interview with a business’s customers. This can be conducted over the phone, or face to face. Normally during the interview process, you will outline the main three problems your customers are addressing, the appropriate current solutions to those identified problems, and your new ideas for solutions.
Whilst running a CPP its best to break it down into sections. This will also allow time to pause for the interviewee to talk. This is because you would have to listen to better understand better the perspectives of your customer.
It is important to use the customer problem presentation as an examination of problems, but not exploration of solutions. Also it’s useful for your customers to freely express their views and even negative expressions are useful as these are good indicators of pain points that will need to be addressed in your business, product or service.
Some people prefer using a survey during the customer presentation process, but surveys can be a bit restrictive because it puts an assumption that an individual knows the right question to ask rather than having a form of open dialogue. Furthermore, surveys won’t really allow you to listen to the customer or have two way interactions.
Example of MVP development using CPP
Let’s take a look at CloudFire which was a P2P media sharing system. For the CEO, figuring out his customer target group was easy because it was span out of an existing business called BoxCloud which began as a general purpose file sharing service.
BoxCloud was originally limited to freelancers and small business users. However as a business they decided to test P2P solutions in the space of their consumers and wider market.
Part of the MVP process was to find out if there was enough specialist demand from those users who did a lot of video or photo sharing. In addition to also find those in the market, who were using an alternative service but had a need for a more suitable, new video and photo sharing service that met all of their current needs, that were not being fulfilled.
This prompted BoxCloud to ask numerous questions. Eventually, they discovered the problems that their own website and other existing web sites in the space were facing. This process helped them as business to take advantage of a golden opportunity when it came to file, video and photo sharing solutions that were not currently being met or provided. This is how CloudFire was launched.
Going back to the CPP process for a minute, the first step for a business during a customer problem presentation is normally to identify the main problems. In CloudFire example with sharing videos and photos, the top problems that can be identified are;
Sharing multiple videos and photos one at a time can take a lot of time.
Many existing services ignored the size of images resulting in poor quality.
Notifying friends and family members of the updates had to be done manually.
During the interview process the business was able to learned how users friends and relatives wanted to be able share their videos and photos.
Actioning your findings
Essentially the whole MVP development process basically enables a business to collect and analyze information to create and develop a viable product. The type of feedback you get will also include pricing information.
Once you have talked to enough people you will start to get enough answers and consistent feedback that sound the same or patterns in the responses that indicate where the opportunity lies. When you reach this point it’s important for you to identify the unique value of the product in its solution and price point, what you would sell the service or product for.
Other things you will discover are what you will have on your sign up page, where or how the price is displayed and a list of associated benefits.
From the interview process, you can revise your top three problems. Again back to the example;
Sharing many videos and photos is annoying
Requiring strangers to sign up is bothersome
Photo gallery design is too complicated
Pre product market testing
Considering the stage after revising the top three problems, you will can have two options which are; to build sign up and landing pages and begin testing without products, or start building a small product. Of course there has always been serious debate on the advantages and disadvantages of both these approaches.
Leading users to sign up a page without products can help test the messaging, however, it can impact on your business’s credibility and trust.
A business can take a few weeks to create a usable product that can be offered, and as soon as it’s ready can present to potential customers live
The presentation of the product should show to customers how the top three revised problems are addressed and solved.
As a business you should be keen to ask the customers how they perceive the new service so that you can collect invaluable keywords and positioning statements. In addition, at the end of the presentation customers should sign up for the service.
Lastly building and creating sign up and landing pages should be done carefully. There are many options out there like optimizely and leadpages that will allow you to A/B test and tweak your offering.
Adwords can be considered as a suitable distribution channel to funnel click through to your product page.
In fact you can be very creative and think smart about what small things you can do, and other low cost ways to test your model and market before you burn your startup cash on developing your product.