Getting Started with a Minimal Viable Product

December 2nd, 2019

Today’s Community Contributor is Peter Cartier, a marketing and business strategist based out of St. Louis, MO who relies on creative problem solving and informed content to deliver the “what’s in it for me” solution his customers are looking for. He is currently the Marketing & Business Development Manager for an events agency in Downtown STL, as well as the hardest working (and only) employee of his side hustle, St. Louis Copywriters.


What does minimum viable product mean and why should you care?

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a solution that has just enough features to be dangerous, yet gives ample room for growth as you gather feedback from your customers that will help shape the final deliverable.

It essentially helps you navigate the build/measure/learn loop more quickly and efficiently, and it’s how brands like Uber, Zappos, and Dropbox got big.

When do you create a minimum viable product?

The hardest part of getting started is… well, getting started. When it comes to accomplishing your next big business initiative, so many great ideas and products never make it off the starting block.

Too often, we’re bogged down by the details of what level of polish is necessary to launch, but more and more business leaders are adopting the developer’s mindset when it comes to releasing a new product or offer (we’re talking everything from a new business service to a whole new business vertical). Release a minimal viable product early and iterate often.

In the case of Airbnb, cofounders Chesky and Gebbia used Craigslist to get their unique bed and breakfast concept to market before the billion-dollar platform reached fruition.

The MVP serves a variety of purposes, including:

  • Helping you test your sales hypothesis
  • Starting to refine your initial product specifications
  • Uncovering useful feedback from early adopters
  • Beating competitors to market and getting to customers faster
  • Creating better data sets for current and future products

In a web developer’s world, this is far easier to grasp as the functionality of a web page may continue to grow based on the user experience and other data points are collected. But this can be done for all the other aspects of your business as well, including your marketing.

How to create a minimum viable product for your business

If your goal is to make and sell a solution, the sooner you make it available for your customers, the better. To that end, your MVP can get your brand in play faster to a chosen set of customers.

In the marketing world, use this market testing methodology to get more things done faster. It can be compared to baby-stepping into certain endeavors, whether it’s sales collateral, sponsorships or even exclusive new product offerings. Create and release the overview of an eBook first and gather signups on your landing page. Start with the cheapest sponsorship offering and see how well your brand connects to that conference. Try a creative email marketing campaign for specific industries or job titles to release your new offering and measure the engagement.

It’s not about releasing a crude, unfinished work, but rather, not waiting for a campaign or product to be perfect before you start generating interest in it.

Sometimes, your results inform your team of whether you should continue with this product or offer in the first place. Other times, it confirms that there needs to be more manpower invested in this space right away.

Protect your minimum viable product from hurting your business.

At no point should your MVP be placed out into the world without the proper testing and ideating necessary to feel confident in slapping your brand on it. Simply put, don’t rush a product just for rushing’s sake.

Competitors are paying attention, and you don’t want to trip over yourself to make their journey that much easier. Ensure a product or offer is competitor-proof before releasing and ensure that any negative feedback or quality is addressed and solved quickly.

Above all, deliver value with your minimum viable product.

The goal of your MVP is always to deliver value to your customers. After all, if customer satisfaction isn’t your product’s north star, then it may be doomed to fail.

Successful businesses have found that, when the customer is at the heart of what you do, it helps inform the decisions that make it easier to launch an MVP. In this way, don’t compromise on your brand’s values when using the MVP system to deliver a timely, efficient solution to the end client. Customers will notice and stay loyal when they know you’re always working on a better solution for them.