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Rohan was tense. It was a penalty shootout. He could not fail.

The veteran goalkeeper wished he could block any ball. Especially this one.

He had played the game long enough. And was confident he could anticipate the opponent’s next move.

He saw the opponent as a new soccer club still enjoying their baby teethers.

This was his first mistake.

Second… he seldom played on artificial turf. Grass was his domain.

Still, Rohan pictured himself winning the game for his team and holding the Champions Trophy. It was his last year with the club and he wanted to make a grand exit.

The shoot happened… the ball sailed past Rohan into the nets.

It crushed his dream. And his confidence.

He made the fatal mistake of misjudging his opponent. The field. And win on untested grounds.

It was the end of the Champions Trophy. For Rohan. And his dream.

He was not alone. Mistakes happen when you become overconfident. And ignore reality.

But that’s a common human trait. And we fall prey to it at times.

Mistakes like these can ruin a career

Enjoying iced tea on a warm afternoon and watching TV, it reminded me of something similar. That we as Content or Digital Marketers often make.

As a Content Marketer, you often devise products to sell to your audience. The product can be a physical or a non-physical one. It can be a  product, service, an online course, a tool or a software.

The product can be yours or your clients, which you are promoting.

Regardless of whose product, the results can be life-changing.

At times a fatal mistake is made by trying to sell a final product without measuring its acceptability.

We often think, if the product is useful to us, it must be for others too.

Here ‘others’ refer to the market or your target customers. And it cannot be any. It has to be the ones your product is built for.

But do you know if the market will accept your product? One that’s been built with months or years of hard work and research? With funds borrowed from the bank? And with the help of highly paid professionals?

What benefits are useful to the end consumer? How many are useful? Or are they useful at all?

You also need to know if the product blends with the target customer’s mindset and solves their problems. Does it make their life easier?

These and many others become the deciding factor.

Without testing, you should not launch a product

Because if you do… you risk everything involved. Including your life and your career.

If you think it’s far-fetched, check this link and this. Though many of these companies bounced back as they had millions, it can be a different story for you and me.

Surely that’s not what we want. Money is something that can perhaps be recovered.

But what about time and your life? Both are invaluable. There’s no way to revive them. Once used, they are gone forever.

Wouldn’t it be wise to invest precious time and energy in a product you are sure of?

Let’s dig further and know how to make your product market ready.

How do you test a product?

Companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and Foursquare have launched successful apps after rigorous testing.

How did they do it?

By first releasing an MVP version of their apps.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

It’s a basic version of a product with a minimum set of features. This is done to get early feedback from the target audience before doing a full-scale launch.

An MVP enables research and product managers to make changes to the product in tune with market demands. This applies to both physical and nonphysical products.

There might be some features which users don’t like or want them changed. You need to act accordingly.

If the feedback is negative, the only option is to dump the product. And design a better version. If there’s no option to rethink the same.

Why invest in something which the market doesn’t want?

In fact, a Minimum Viable Product is more of a process. It’s a process that dives deep into the mind of a customer and aligns itself with their wants, needs, and desires.

It brings out what they want, don’t want, or want in a better way.

Before you test with an MVP, you should know its benefits and drawbacks.

Here they are.

Benefits of a Minimum Viable Product

  • What you think and what happens in real life can be different. How would you know if your idea is correct? How will you know if your dream project will be a grand success or a flop? The answer… test with an MVP.
  • An MVP is the key to knowing the worth of your product in the target market.
  • With the user data generated by an MVP, you can make parallel changes to similar products. And make it market fit.
  • An MVP lets you know the correct time to launch a product. It saves you from the fatal error when launching a great product at the wrong time.
  • Does the market really need your product? An MVP is the key to knowing what the market wants.
  • MVPs also saves you money by allowing you to test a product before investing more into the final one.

Drawbacks of an MVP

  • Much time is invested to make an MVP. You spend months making it, not knowing if it’s market-friendly.
  • The time taken gives your competitors the edge to move past you, and scale their products.
  • You need to be time sensitive when planning an MVP. If it takes too much time, you might lose focus of the original idea and market share.
  • The first impression of anything lasts long in the human mind. Be it good or bad, it stays with you. Anything good is appreciated and looked forward to. If not, people become cautious when dealing with you or your company. We should ensure, it doesn’t happen.
  • Make sure the features you use in the MVP work well. If it delights the target users, they will want its future versions. This will decide the fate of the final product.

But do you know there are various types of MVPs you can test with?

Are you curious to know?

Boy, I am so happy you are. Let’s find out.

Alternates to an MVP

Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)

A Minimum Lovable Product is a slightly advanced version of an MVP. Think of a pizza with cheese toppings and one without.

The one with cheese is the MLP and the one without is the MVP.

Which do you think would be more drool worthy? You know the answer, my friend.

MLP essentially offers more features for customers to try and explore. It gives a better picture of what’s to come and how it can transform their lives—for the better.

This involves more development costs, but the results become easy to predict. It helps to build the final product in an assured way. Knowing what the target customer wants.

Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)

An MMP is typically the first version of your product. It has all the features that your target customers have tested and found useful.

This version is more of a surety that the product will work and sell. It bears the stamp of approval from the market that it’s acceptable. And has been built on the feedback received from the target customers.

The feedback has helped strengthen the product. And made it more marketable and saleable.

Alternates to a Minimum Viable Product
A Minimum Viable Product and its alternatives

With whom do you test an MVP?

Now that you have a good knowledge of an MVP, your next question would be—who to test it with?

And that’s a valid question.

You have the MVP ready, but who’s going to give you a feedback?

Look around yourself.

If you have a Facebook group where people follow you, distribute the product for testing—it can be an online course, software, a formula, or a set of tools. These group members are your target customers on a small scale, who will give you feedback.

The feedback volume might be small, but you will have an idea of what’s good with your product and what’s not. It’s better than having almost nothing.

This can be a huge money saver also, as without investing tons of money in testing, you’re getting the same results for free. It helps you measure the pulse of the market and act accordingly.

You can apply this to all social media groups where people follow and listen to you. They will be eager to test your product, give you feedback and be a part of your online journey.

By trusting them to test your product, you are also creating a deeper emotional bond with your audience. They assume they are playing a vital role in your career, which is correct. And will try to help you as much as they can.

Maybe not all will respond. But with whatever response you get, you can use the data to improve your product.

If you have an email list built with content or email marketing, share your product with your audience for detailed feedback. As before, the feedback will help to change and refine your product.

Remember, your group or email list should in some way be connected to the market where you are trying to promote. And they must understand its value.

It’s useless to ask for feedback from people who have no interest in your niche or what you want to sell.

For physical products, you can send them to people who will analyse and inform you what needs to be improved. There are many individuals who will review your products for free. If they are happy with it, they will announce it on their social media groups.

For a product that’s yet to be launched, having good reviews about it on the Internet, will create curiosity for the product. Much before its final release. And that’s a positive indicator for business. Don’t you agree?

To conclude… which should you use?

An MVP is the one you should consider, for its low development cost and easy-to-make approach—from the point of using a basic set of features.

An MVP is a stepping stone to move forward to its advanced cousins—MLP and MMP. If you have a limited budget, little market knowledge, and are not aware of your target customer’s needs, then MVP is your choice.

It involves less manpower, as only the basic features are required. You can make it yourself if you have the skill or can hire manpower. The manpower needn’t be too expensive as all that the MVP needs is some basic features.

As you move upwards, to the MLP, MMP, and the final product, you will need experienced manpower to add finishing touches, which will be expensive. This will have to be accepted as only experience and higher skills can deliver market-friendly products.

In fact, if you look at an MVP closely, you’ll see it’s much similar to what we do in real life. Where we are unsure and cautious of most things at first.

For things unknown to you, you tend to test them first. Would you suddenly take up a new sport without knowing if it’s for you? Wouldn’t you like to know whether it suits you?

Would you think of making a career as a doctor without knowing if it’s for you? What good would it do if after spending 4 years in a medical college, you realise it’s a waste of time? Would you get the money back or more importantly the time? Your friends would have made much progress in their careers by then.

Life is unpredictable, and we think twice before taking chances. This is normal human behaviour. Is it wise to invest time and money in something you are not aware of?

To avoid these pitfalls, we take the opinion of others and also test our abilities. This is to find out what can we can do and what we can’t. It reveals your true potential and makes you realise what you can excel in and what you can’t.

Found the similarity with MVPs?

If Rohan had practiced enough on artificial turf, he would have learned how the ball reacted to it. If he had not taken his opponent lightly and studied them well… he could have saved the day for himself and his club.

But let us not be Rohan, and ensure the marketability of product launches with the help of the correct MVP at the correct time.

I hope you found this post useful. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. If you are a Content Marketer designing a product for yourself or your client, or if you are an entrepreneur about to launch an MVP, consider using these tips to launch a successful product.

What do you say?

Let me know in the comments below.