🏆 7 Types of MVP’s Every PM Needs To Master
The term MVP is confusing. Every business has it’s own different definition, and every product team use it differently.
“Is a landing page an MVP? Or a beta product an MVP?”
“Is MVP an experiment?”
“And what happens when my MVP doesn’t work in the market? Does that mean my MVP has failed?”
Don’t worry; this post will debunk the myths around MVPs.
I’ll show you how to effectively learn from an MVP. Then I’m going to give you 7 examples of MVP you can use to test your idea. Let’s go!
So, What is an MVP?
The term MVP was popularised in the book “Lean Startup” by Eric Ries:
“MVP is designed not just to answer product design or technical questions. It’s goal is to test fundamental business hypotheses.” — Eric Ries
So regardless of its different labels: MVP, MLP, MMP, MSP, Skeleton Product, etc.
An MVP is a tool used by product teams to test fundamental business hypotheses in the market.
MVP is a Prototype Used In Experiments
To set the right expectation of what an MVP is, it’s better calling the solution Minimal Viable Prototype rather than a Product. Calling it a product implies some sort of production quality, which is not necessarily a requirement in some experiments.
“A prototype is used in discovery, and a product is produced in delivery.” As Marty Cagen mentions in the 2nd edition of Inspired.
MVP is Used To Test a Problem or a Solution
When you start building an MVP, you need to break the idea down into a problem hypothesis and a solution hypothesis. You can read about that here.
- Create an MVP to test the problem hypothesis, pivot until it’s validated.
- Then Create an MVP to test the solution hypothesis, pivot until it’s validated.
- Only build the first version of your product after the above has been completed.
Here Are 7 Types of MVP’s Every PM Needs to Master
1) Landing Page / Coming Soon / Wizard of Oz
This is a perfect example of “Fake it till you make it”. Create a landing page or a website that talks about your product. The goal of this method is to measure customer demand. Your CTA could be signing up to email updates, schedule a demo, phone calls, or sometimes you can even fulfil the order manually.
This MVP method is a common method used by Amazon, Zappos, and Airbnb.
2) Flyers / Posters / Direct Mails
Very similar to the landing page approach above but an offline solution of it. This is a great method to test ideas around services. You can hire a designer on Fiverr, or you can use free templates on Canva depending on the quality you need.
3) Digital Content MVP
You can create content about a topic then market it to see how many people have similar problems or needs. The content you create can be a blog post, video, infographic, or even simply answering questions on Quora or Reddit.
For blogs and written content: Medium, WordPress, Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Forums, etc
4) Online marketplaces
Use online marketplaces as a way to test the demand for a product before invest in building it.
When orders start to come, you can find a supplier to fulfil it. Or contact the customer to let them know the product is coming soon. People generally understand, and it’s a chance for you to do customer research.
Tools you can use: Shopify, Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, Squarespace, Webflow, Kickstarter
5) Concierge / Sticky Tape solution / Plain Donut MVP
The trick here is to take existing out-of-the-box products and piecemeal it together. It doesn’t have to look exactly the way you want it, but the functionality is there.
For example, you can use a google form to create a cancellation page, or Zapier to connect different web apps together.
This will give you swift time to market. You can build the proper solution when you have tested demand for your product.
Reid Hoffman once said: “If you’re not embarrassed about your first product, you’ve launched too late” Keep this in mind when you’re building this type of MVP.
6) Events / Communities
If the problem exists, there are already people talking about it. Create or join communities that are related to the product idea. Speak with people in the event to validate your problem or solution. You can also bring along a flyer or a landing page MVP to see if the audience will action it.
Tools you can use: Meetup.com, Facebook Groups, Eventbrite, Industry conferences, etc.
7) Email Newsletters
This is a great method for content products. ProductHunt started with this strategy.
The founder created an email list so people can stay tuned to the latest product goss. They had an overwhelming amount of positive feedbacks, and Product Hunt was launched.
You can bundle the Email Newsletter strategy with a landing page to test if there is a problem or a need for your product idea.
Lastly, here are some things to keep in mind when implementing your MVPs
1, Teach mindset to your team: MVP is about shifting the mindset of your company from anticipating a product launch to anticipating learnings.
2, Create a solid tracking plan for your MVPs. Your MVP should give you direct, actionable insights about your Customer Problem & Business Goals
3, If your company is a big brand, create a shadow brand so you don’t give away secrets.
4, Be careful of biases when building MVPs. Don’t create something to prove your idea. Create tests to disprove it.
5, Don’t be afraid to throw everything away and start again. It’s the learning that matters, not the MVP.
6, Focus on reducing “time to knowledge”. The faster you learn, the better you compete in the market.