Minimum Viable Product under the Microscope. (© BakthiArzein - Fotolia.com )
The minimum viable product is not a new concept by any means. An MVP is something that almost exclusively applies to digital or physical products & services that are sold online. In this article, we’re going to discuss the minimum viable product, including how it is defined, and how you can use this important tool to enhance your internet marketing efforts and avoid wasting time and money.
What Is A Minimum Viable Product?
Some people confuse the minimum viable product with the term prototype. However, most experts will tell you that the two are different based upon one specific area - whether or not you can mass produce and sell the product.
The minimum viable product is defined by characterized by first;
- having enough value the people are willing to buy it.
- Second, it is complete enough so that users can see what future development will probably look like.
- Finally, it incorporates some sort of feedback system to guide future development.
OpenPR tip: Now, that doesn't mean that the minimum viable product has to be so good that it can be sold for full price. Quite the contrary; the minimum viable product is not the final product and is very unlikely to be sold at full price. The MVP meets the bare minimum requirements for whatever function it was designed for.
Exploring the Minimum Viable Product Further
Some people still struggle with understanding what the MVP is, so we will demonstrate some of the common MVP models currently on the market.
First, let's take a well-known existing product and pare it down to what it would look like if it was a minimum viable product. The Blue Yeti microphone is a popular USB mic do to the near studio-quality level and the features that it provides. It is also one of the least expensive professional-quality USB mics on the market.
Right now, the Blue Yeti provides
- volume control on the front of the mic,
- a mute button,
- a heavy base and in-headphone monitoring.
- In fact, it comes with a preamp so that you can hear your voice and the music perfectly in your headphones. There is also a gain knob on the back to allow you to adjust a mix of music and voice.
Finally, the Blue Yeti has
- four recording patterns that you can switch between.
- You can use the cardioid, which only records sound from directly in front of the mic,
- the Figure-8 which record sound from directly in front and behind the mic,
- the circular setting which record from anywhere around the mic
- and one further type of sound recording.
- In addition, you can get this microphone in about four different colors and either with USB or XLR plugs to be used with a mixer or laptop.
If you were the manufacturer of the Blue Yeti microphone, and you were had to create a minimum viable product with only enough development time for a couple of features, what would you choose?
In this case, the microphone is being promoted mostly as a pro USB microphone, so it should have
- excellent sound quality, even if it is not as good as it will be on final release,
- as well as a USB plug and the software for it.
- You also have to add in the sound output device software
- and in-headphone monitoring or else the product will be useless as a USB mic for podcasting or recording vocals.
- The other features you could leave off until later.
The Minimum Viable Service
Sometimes the minimum viable product isn't a product at all, but instead, is a service. Let’s stick with the same industry that we are already in for an additional example. Suppose that you were starting a karaoke website, where people could go online, create an account and record their favorite songs.
In order to have a minimum viable product in this case, you must have
- the website
- and at least a hundred songs or so for them to sing.
- You obviously have to have the interface software as well.
You could add in other features later on, such as the obvious choice of more songs, as well as features like
- vocal compression and reverb,
- pitch adjustment,
- timing adjustment and volume controls.
- You could also add in a social network as well as support for webcam input.
The Video Game Industry
Finally, we will use the example of the video game industry. This is something that is a lot easier for many people to understand because so many people play video games. In videogame parlance, the alpha release of a game would be considered the prototype while the Beta release would likely be considered the minimum viable product. This isn't the case with every game, but it is true with many.
How the MVP Is Used
There are very good reasons why the MVP is created rather than the final product. The most obvious reason that might come to mind would be to raise capital to finish the product design, but that is actually not as common as some of the other ways that the MVP is used.
One of the ways that the MVP is used is as a learning tool. Engineers and creators design the minimum viable product and then play with it in order to
- accelerate learning
- and to test out a product design without wasting unnecessary resources.
In some cases, designers find that the product that they have designed isn't going to work like they thought it would. This is why companies choose to go with the MVP rather than the final product.
OpenPR tip: In addition, the minimum viable product may be used for marketing purposes. Not only is being able to release an MVP product for a very low price a great way to get the word out about an upcoming final product, it is also one of the best ways to get buyer feedback. Companies often spend millions of dollars testing products with consumers to find out how they are going to be received at release. But smart companies could release an MVP instead, and rather than it costing them money, they actually make money while they're getting that valuable feedback.
The Principles of MVP Development
There are five smart principles they can be applied to MVP development in order to understand how the process of actually creating a minimum viable product works. Let's take it a look at each one.
- The first principle is that anyone can start a business using the minimum viable product model. In fact, this was exactly what started the computer revolution. You have heard the stories of Silicon Valley startups and their beginnings in their parent’s garages. While this is a tired cliché by now, It Is by no means untrue. The fact isthat many of the first computer products that revolutionized the digital age were minimum viable products and people are still creating MVPs like that today.
- Next, you want to keep in mind that MVP development requires management. You need to be smart about what you were developing. Not only do you need to have a great idea, but you also need to do a great deal of planning before you ever begin development on your MVP. one of the most popular startup models today is the Android or iPhone app. but there have been a lot more failures than successes because the developers did not practice good MVP management.
- Third, you need to build your MVP. If you are starting a company and developing a product, then as soon as you have a management plan in place you should start building. Putting off the actual build will get you exactly nowhere.
- The fourth principal of MVP development is measurement. After you have built your first MVP or prototype, then you need to measure your product and find out where it falls short and where it succeeds. If you have an MVP that you can release, then what you will be measuring is how customers respond to your product. This is one of the main purposes of designing an MVP in the first place and you need customer feedback to move onto the next step.
- Finally, the last principal is to learn rebuild. Learn what you can from the release of your MVP, rebuild it and then go through the entire build-measure-learn cycle once again. You will be able to find out if the changes you made had the desired effect and know more clearly how close you are to moving on to a final product.
A minimum viable product is a term that was coined in 2001 and has been used extensively by digital startups. But it can be applied to any type of business that you want to get into. If you have a product or service that you think customers would respond to, then your first step is definitely to plan out and then build a minimum viable product to help you decide whether you should take your idea forward.