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What You Need to Know About Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A minimum viable product (MVP) can be a useful step in product development and a powerful tool for businesses to leverage.

The definition of a minimum viable product is when a company produces a product with minimal features that attract early customers who can validate the product idea and give the company valuable feedback about it. This feedback is either applied or used as evidence to cancel further development.

Whether you’re a startup or established company, your resources are limited. With the minimum viable product approach, can expand more cautiously. With an MVP, your company can gain key insights and live test products before sinking too much capital in them. Then, if it turns out to be a viable product that your customer base is excited about, you can go back and further develop the idea for a full, revamped release.

However, using the minimum viable product approach isn’t as simple as coming up with an idea, doing the bare minimum, and releasing it to the public. There is a lot of strategy involved that’s necessary to make it a worthwhile exercise.

Learn the minimum viable product definition, how you can leverage MVPs, how to launch one, and what factors you may want to consider before doing so in this guide for businesses.

MVP meaning: What is a minimum viable product?

The MVP meaning in business, or minimum viable product, is a version of a product that is developed with the least amount of effort possible to get customer feedback before investing more resources into it.

Business owners may want to consider minimum viable products when evaluating product growth strategies. With this approach, you can test the idea and receive customer feedback on the product or service as is. From there, you can decide whether it’s worthwhile to make improvements upon and produce for the public.

Graphic with a yellow background featuring a lightbulb illustration and text that reads, “What Is the Purpose of MVP? Quickly release a new product; Get insight into your customer base; Limit your expenses and effort”.

The key with using an MVP is to ensure that it has sufficient functionality for it to be useful and desirable to the product's initial users. You don’t want to leave them frustrated after use as they aren’t likely to want the final version of the product in that case. Instead, you want them to try the product, love it, and want more when it’s been turned into something even better with more to offer.

Example of a minimum viable product

MVP is more than just a concept, it’s a common strategy employed by businesses of all sizes. This may in the form of software prototypes, physical products, business model prototypes, or even landing pages. The following can be a few examples of minimum viable products that ended up being further developed into what they are today:

  • Dropbox
  • Amazon, in its early days
  • AdWords Express
  • Foursquare
  • Airbnb

MVPs are an excellent option for putting innovative business ideas to the test without laying your business’s future on the line.

How do businesses use MVPs?

An MVP is helpful to a business when they present a product with minimum features. However, while not complete, the product has enough features to attract consumers. These consumers can validate an early business idea in its first stages of development and help generate ideas for how it can be improved for the optimal user experience.

The feedback from consumers enables companies to improve the product's functionality or cut products that aren’t liked or won’t be worth the investment to change.

Testing the viability of a new product

The primary reason for MVP products is testing the viability of a new product. This applies both to those who are just launching a business and those who have an established brand but are expanding their offerings. With the minimal viable product, they can see whether:

  • Their audience is interested in the product
  • If the product functions well when in use
  • If the product is used in the expected capacity
  • If the product adds value to the customer’s life
  • How much work would be needed to get the product where they need it to be

Testing the product is an excellent way to conserve resources and protect your business.

Discover the interests of your target market

When a company releases a prototype of a new product, it can gather valuable information about consumer response to the product, the changes that need to be made, and the overall acceptance of the product or service. With customer feedback, your business can cater future versions of the product to them, making it more likely to be successful.

Release a new product quickly

It takes a company a lot of time and money to formulate the perfect product before releasing it to the consumer. However, an MVP helps decrease the typical development process's time and money. When a company releases a functional prototype to attract consumers for feedback, the consumer can validate the product idea early on in the process. These validations help the product team brainstorm ideas, improve the product quicker, and release it for general sales.

Illustration of a thumb’s up with text next to it that reads, “It's essential to ensure an MVP has sufficient functionality to accurately determine whether the product is viable.”

Potential pros and cons of MVPs

When considering whether the use of an MVP is right for your business, you may want to consider the pros and cons.

MVP Pros

Some of the most notable benefits of MVPs include:

  • Quicker entry into the marketplace
  • Easily and quickly perform market validation
  • New products based on consumer feedback
  • Saves companies time and money
  • Product changes, quick and efficient
  • Early understanding of public acceptance
  • Formulate potential buyers from prototype introduction
  • Rapid product development
  • Expectations quickly met by vital consumer feedback
  • Matches consumer expectations
  • Cost and time decrease in development and marketing

MVP Cons

  • Ongoing collection of feedback from customers
  • Lose focus and commitment to product development
  • Competitors can steal product ideas if they find out about them
  • Competitors may be able to improve and release your product faster
  • Potential for unexpected delays
Graphic with black text on yellow background that reads, “Based on MVP feedback, a business will either:” at the top, with split sides on the bottom that read, “Make updates to the product.” This text is below a thumb’s down graphic; and on the right side, there’s text that reads, “Abandon the product” with a thumb’s up graphic over it.

How to develop a minimum viable product

No business can start or stay in operation without plans for every venture they partake in. Here are some key steps to follow

Know your objectives

Within any well-thought-out plan should be objectives—what you hope to achieve by utilizing an MVP. The following are some examples of objectives for MVPs: Confirm the product is worth investing in Find the right market for the product Determine this product’s priority level Get useful feedback about which specific improvements need to be made Establish a relationship with the customer base for this product

Understand your user persona

Business owners must understand the user persona for each product. User personas will help determine what the needs are of your consumers for this product or service and how to make it as useful and appealing to them as possible.

You’ll need to determine the demographics, consumer behavior, and values of your user persona if you hope to target the right audience. This will typically require thorough research into your market and may even incorporate surveying to refine the target audience from which you will build the user persona. Once you have a persona established, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed with your MVP.

A clearly defined customer persona is then used to design the MVP, design which components are essential, and decide who will have access to testing the MVP. Without this step, it’s much less likely that the MVP will meet your target audience’s needs, meaning it could fall flat as soon as it’s launched.

Create a larger product development strategy

Creating more effective product development strategies is vital as these assist designers in shaping products during the usability testing stage. You cannot simply create an MVP and release it, there are a lot of interconnected aspects of your business to consider and tie into your plan. That’s where a larger product development strategy is useful. You should outline everything required for product development as well as how it will impact other aspects of your business. This may include everything from product mockups and engineering to which teams will be needed throughout the process.

Once you have all the groundwork laid for your MVP, it’s time to move into the development phase and prepare it for release.

Use email marketing to promote your MVP

Having a well-thought-out MVP on your hands is a great start, but you need to get it into the hands of your customer base. That’s where email marketing comes in. With your email list, you can target your current audience to find those who would be interested in testing this version of the product and providing their feedback.

With Mailchimp email marketing services, you can send highly optimized emails that reach your subscribers at the ideal time, in an engaging design that keeps them reading, and smart integrations that let you make the most of capturing their attention. Take the next step with your MVP to see if it’s your next big product idea.

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