An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) allows you to get valuable information from your audience about your new offering to assess its potential and avoid overinvestment. Here's what it is and all the ways it can benefit you.

You may have come across this acronym before, MVP, but in a completely different context....

And if you are wondering, no, there is no mistake this time: we are not talking about the best basketball players!

MVP is an acronym that also exists in marketing and stands for "Minimum Viable Product."

This is something super useful and beneficial for the development and growth of your business, because it allows you to assess how your offering is received by your target audience, without risking large losses of resources.

How?

Try to imagine: you have an innovative product or service in mind, but to develop it to 100% you need a lot of investment, with the risk that it will then be a complete flop.

You know it too: anyone can launch a novelty, but only if you create something unique, recognizable and useful, are you successful. 

What to do then?

Yes, you definitely need to analyze the market and your customer base, perhaps helping with the Value Proposition Canvas. It's just that you often focus so much attention and effort on wanting to come up with incredible new features that you fail to optimize for your most valuable resource: the time.

Do you know that you would also have another opportunity? You could do some sort of test, to get a sense of consumer reaction by offering them a "basic" version of that product or service.

Depending on their feedback, you will then be able to improve the offer and complete it.

All while providing the right value and helping the product grow with reasonable resources, reducing waste as much as possible.

That is exactly what an MVP allows you to do.

Doesn't that sound crazy?

Well, if you want to learn more, keep reading the article-you'll understand exactly what Minimum Viable Product is and what all the benefits of using it are. 

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

Imagine that you have to order the cake for your wedding from the baker: before the big day, you get a couple of cookies to choose the dough; then you give your feedback and let appropriate changes be made.

Here, the Minimum Viable Product is a bit like those cookies: a first version of the whole pie, with basic features that allow you to see if it meets your needs, give a response, and propose changes or improvements.

You can do the same thing yourself, with your potential customers, when you intend to propose a completely new product or service to them, to hear what they think of it and then act accordingly to improve it, before disseminating it.

The goal is to equip such a product with a set of essential features (but precious) that particularly attract the attention of early users, the so-called Early Adopters, and then evaluate their reaction so as to gather valuable information for its development.

This, of course, with minimal effort and investment.

The term, itself, was coined in 2001 by Frank Robinson, a U.S. entrepreneur, and then popularized a few years later by Eric Ries, author of the book "The Lean Startup". In Italian we can translate it as "minimum working product."

Here is what it means in detail:

  • Product: something tangible that a user can see, touch, or feel (not just a concept, promise, or future offer);
  • Minimum: with the least amount of functionality, features and packaging (a kind of skeleton of the final solution you have in mind);
  • Working: such that it meets the needs of early users and offers them value (to make them willing to spend money or share personal information, such as their contact).

Designed to ensure that the product vision and strategy are aligned with market needs, the Minimum Viable Product is good enough to generate satisfaction and sales, but not so challenging as to be too risky. Technically, it is the product with the maximum ROI based on risk.

Ah, one important thing: Sometimes people confuse an MVP with a prototype, thinking they are the same thing. But they're not, and here's the difference: a prototype is a sample or basic plan of your product or service; you typically use it internally within the company to explain a broader concept. 

An MVP, on the other hand, has basic features that are essential to provide consumers with the solutions they need. Moreover, it is obviously not an idea that exists only on paper (or slides) or a draft: instead, it is a version fully functional ready to be put on the market.

The characteristics of an MVP

The Minimum Viable Product has some distinct characteristics that make it so. 

Here are the four most important ones.

#1 It is essential, but useful

You might think of an MVP as rudimentary and impractical. Nothing could be more wrong: it is true that it has a minimal feature set, but it provides value by solving a real need for early users. This makes them willing to buy it first, even if not fully developed-which means it will be easier for you to market it.

#2 Provides feedback

When launching a new product, user feedback is a key piece of the puzzle. The Minimum Viable Product is structured precisely to encourage people to leave their reviews and give you information, so you can use it to guide the future development of your offering and improve it.

#3 It is launched in the market "discreetly"

Unlike a grand product launch, an MVP is brought to market almost quietly. This means three things, mainly: that you target a small, select audience based on specific criteria; that you use a limited budget, to avoid waste in case it is not as successful as hoped; that you employ a landing page, that is, a stand-alone landing page free of other distractions, on which users can concretely view the offer (and you maximize conversions).

#4 Offers an advantage 

An MVP should offer some benefit to consumers who will adopt it first--also to keep them loyal afterwards over time. Usually, in most cases this translates into an affordable price, not only in the first purchase but also in subsequent purchases (albeit with the addition of the new features) and flexible (e.g., you can expect payment to be made in installments).

What a Minimum Viable Product is for: 7 benefits

Imagine you had a crazy product that you built from scratch with a lot of features, and it cost you a lot of time, effort, and money. When you can you launched it on the market, however, users didn't like the idea very much, so you had to accept failure.

Here, we can immediately say that a Minimum Viable Product serves you precisely to avoid such a scenario: the idea is to do the best you can with the least amount of effort-and with the idea that you will then always be in time to add quality to your offering. An MVP provides specific value to users, which makes it saleable and helps you test product usability and market demand.

If you think about it, this is most important for all start-ups: considering the high risk, with an MVP you maximize the chances of product success. By validating and learning about your target customers with the least effort, create a product roadmap and avoid many problems from the beginning.

The purpose of creating a Minimum Viable Product is just that: to build better-performing products incrementally using customer feedback, always minimizing wasted time and effort.

Let's take a look at some specific ways in which adopting Minimum Viable Product can benefit you.

#1 Prevents the creation of something no one wants

Suppose you created a mobile application that helps people count the number of times they have left home. You put a lot of time into making it and spent thousands on design and development. Eventually you deliver the product into people's hands and in a few days you realize that no one needs such an application.

This is where a Minimum Viable Product comes in. It helps you save the time and money you would have spent on a product that didn't deserve it: the goal is to offer a basic version to understand customers and analyze whether they are willing to pay for what you have to offer.

#2 Helps you understand your product offering.

The next step after preparing an MVP is to get user feedback. Just think, you may even run into cases where your product/service will be used for a different end goal than you originally intended. Either way, you will have all the makings of adding those features that are actually required and necessary.

minimum viable product

#3 Quickly validate your thesis.

Before you start working on creating your new product, you surely already have an idea in mind, even based on the data you collected, right? Here, creating and implementing an MVP helps you validate your hypothesis.

If the people you have invited to test your Minimum Viable Product are willing to pay for your solution and use it in the way intended, then that is good. If not, you may have to look for other strategies.

#4 Can be released faster

Going through the entire product development process, from conception to launch, is long and arduous. A Minimum Viable Product reduces the time between conception and the time you bring your product to market. The startup process is more agile: it allows you to move quickly, before interest wanes or a competitor fills the gap. The sooner you launch your product, the sooner you will receive feedback and be able to act on it.

#5 Offers targeted functionality.

As I mentioned, an MVP consists of core functionality that provides value to the user. This approach allows you to focus only on them, leaving out what would be superfluous for the moment, which leads to results of superior quality And a better user experience.

#6 It is inexpensive and low risk

Because the effort is minimal, the risk associated with an MVP is quite low. 

If you launch a full-fledged product with a large suite of features after spending a significant amount of money and resources, and find out later that that market need doesn't exist--well, it's going to be quite a failure. 

The Minimum Viable Product does not require as large a financial investment as making a full-blown product. You can afford to fail and learn from that mistake more quickly, thus reducing your risk. 

#7 Strengthens customer relationships.

Highlighting the key features and value your product can offer helps you build relationships with early users. If they find benefit in your Minimum Viable Product, they are more likely to share proactively their feedback to help you improve it further. They are also more likely to spread the word about it in their circle (and some referral never hurts!). 

Conclusion

So what do you think?

Maybe you yourself have already tried someone else's Minimum Viable Product and maybe you didn't even realize it; or maybe you have already thought about offering something similar to your customers to renew your offer, but you didn't have a good idea of how to go about it.

As you could see, the Minimum Viable Product is the shortest path that offers the most value to your first customers while generating very useful information for you.

It allows you to validate a product premise, test hypotheses about market needs, make changes to the product vision, and prioritize where to invest in future development.

All this helps you make the final product much better. 

Obviously, you must be ready and prepared to most effectively gather the various feedbacks and properly translate them into the information you need.

What do you think, do you think it is feasible?

Let me know in the comments!