Building a product MVP (Minimal Viable Product) with an Agile methodology is an awesome way to start an internet business. It’s how a small two-man band in a dorm room can go and compete with industry giants.
You have absolutely no idea what’s really going to work, so:
1- you build the smallest thing that can give you an indicator of market fit and traction.
2- you adapt your MVP in a new development phase and you grow from there.
You’re agile, you accept to invest money and time in order to learn. You can move fast, really fast!!
Once you prove traction, once you can prove that people like what you do, you’re reassured. It gives you new support levels to work from, and it can convince investors to believe in your long term vision.
MVPing also creates a sense of urgency for the team, with bursts of energy going from one sprint to the next. It gets everybody pumped up and on the same boat. Everybody is racing forward with a common goal.
But here’s the thing…
When you have your first MVP, you then need to drive traffic to your product. This traffic may convert into sales or contacts. It may also bounce or click towards pages you weren’t prepared for. You will be collecting a lot of data and you need to make sure that all of these interactions with your MVP actually mean something.
In other words… your minimal viable product can only be viable if you market it properly. The purpose of an MVP is to learn about what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. You need to make sure that the Noes that you are getting are useful and can help you make decisions.
You’re launching a vegan based ready meal, and your MVP is a landing page with a study about how plant-based meals will boost your energy levels. You start advertising and send non-specific traffic to this page.
Without tailoring your audience, your traffic will consist of 60% of people whose idea of food heaven is a juicy 16oz steak… You are going to get lots of criticisms, lots of Noes and probably a few WTFs!! But will this actually mean anything? Nope, not a single thing!
Meat lovers don’t get your product. So what? You simply didn’t market your MVP to the appropriate audience. When that happens, business owners generally ignore the noise, and move on! Guys, what was the point of that test?
But, I get it… there’s only so much energy we can put into each development burst. By the time you get to promoting and marketing, you are exhausted and running on empty.
1- Either you’ll push back online marketing as long as possible because you don’t want to be confronted with the possibility of failure. Perfectionist and dreamers, please be careful here. You’ve built this to be seen, sold, engaged with.
2 – Or you’ll be in a hurry to test. You could argue that this is the better state of mind to be in, but it can also completely mess up what happens next. If you’re following the whole lean/MVP method, your old habits kick in. You don’t know what’s going to work, so you make very short and quick marketing tests. This time, however, you’re taking too many shortcuts.
You’re not doing lean marketing… you are doing “dabbling” marketing! 😉
You’ve spent months developing your product or service. You’ve finally got something you are proud of, something you feel is bringing value to the world. So why are you only spending a few hours on building your Google Ads? Why are you not making the effort of narrowing down the audience of your Facebook campaign? Why are you showing the same headline to every potential client and sending them to your generic homepage?
It’s time to slow down and build your marketing plan
I know… a marketing plan seems like something Procter & Gamble would do. I hate all these buzzwords. They all make scaling a business seem so complicated and fake. And when you try and dig deeper, online resources are overwhelming and advertising agencies and growth gurus just keep adding to the story.
Nobody here is Procter & Gamble. We need to build a marketing plan that is simple. A plan that will allow us to collect information so we can make decisions on how to grow.
A marketing plan is the repetition of 3 things:
- 1 – What does your client want? (Buyer Persona)
- 2 – Show your client you can help (User Experience)
- 3 – Find a way to reach this client (Marketing Channel)
Add 1 + 2 + 3 and you’ve got your first marketing plan. You can make this as complicated as you like and add multiple marketing plans together if it makes you happy. But you only need to prepare 1 marketing plan to launch a business.
1: What does your client want? (Buyer Persona)
My client is called Mike. Mike wants to send his small car to Spain. He does not have a big budget and he is emotionally attached to his old mini.
2: Show Mike how you are going to help (User Experience)
- Create a landing page with simple “We Ship Minis to Spain” quote form
- Headline + content showing you offer the best rates.
- Add trust signals such as testimonials and insurance logos
3: Find a way to reach potential clients (Marketing Channel)
I recommend Google Search Ads for most businesses. Spend enough time learning and understanding Google Search. Understand it enough so that if you are tracking conversions and are able to make new decisions based on this tracking. Just take your time, if you are not confident, do not start advertising.
That’s it. That is the bare minimum of a marketing plan. It’s really simple but it is also the minimum effort required for a product launch. Don’t fall into the dabbling trap and make sure that you spend enough time on each step.