Iterative processes are fast losing ground to the continuous improvement philosophy. What does this mean for your business? Many things, but primarily that you now have no spare time to bring your products to market. Yes, you need to maintain a schedule, but also need to have your face in the marketplace at all times. Fortunately, you can use the concept of minimum viable content to move into a market space more quickly.
Keep your processes agile so that you do not have to put off important projects. Here are some best practices involving minimum value content.
What exactly is minimum viable content (MVC)?
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is an important concept that was first referenced commercially by author Eric Ries (“The Lean Startup”). Ries was speaking specifically of the software development industry, but the idea actually moves into other spaces very easily.
Put simply, your MVP is the most streamlined version of your products that is commercially viable. When you create an MVP, you are not trying to fill out your feature set. As a matter fact, you are trying to call back as many features as possible while still providing value to your end user.
The importance of the MVP is primarily twofold: 1) you do not need to spend your entire R&D budget before you find out what your customers really want; and 2) you can move into the marketplace more quickly, focusing the attention of your prospects on your product rather than leaving them wide open for your competitors to take.
Maximizing the Minimum
Smart marketers know that the job of a marketer is not to create the largest amount of content possible. The aim is to get as much mileage as you can out of the smallest amount of content. With this in mind, your MVC is the smallest amount of content that you can publicly release while still giving your end user a valuable experience.
Once you have laid the foundation with your MVC, it is much easier to stack other content on top of this foundation. Users will naturally tell you which holes to fill in, and you can move into your second round of content creation with a far more focused perspective.
MVC and Website Localization
MVC is a very important concept in terms of website translation. If you follow the process of creating MVC, you will likely find the following:
Your value propositions will be more defined and much clearer;
You will be forced to engage users and build out important relationships more quickly; and
You can test all of your assumptions about your larger product without spending all of your R&D budget.
These advantages help immensely when you are trying to build out any product, whether it be a localized website or the next great widget.
The Advantages of the MVC
The first advantage of going with MVC is a faster time to market. You get out ahead of your competitors in the space, and you also force a timeline on the rest of the development process. Properly employing the concept of an MVC has been known to shorten market lead times by weeks, and sometimes even months.
Most marketing experts tell us to get over the fear of releasing a product too soon. As long as you adhere to a philosophy of continuous development, you will be able to respond to the feedback that you receive from the marketplace once the MVC is released. If you time your MVC just right, you may actually be able to take advantage of a high sales season (such as the holidays).
Secondly, putting out your MVC before the world first ensures that you are on the right track in your feature set and in your brand messaging. It is great marketing as well as good operations to make sure that your product is relevant to your audience and representative of your brand. It is also much easier to build upon an MVC in a cost-effective way than try to translate your entire plan from paper to reality at once.
How to Determine Your MVC
What exactly is the balance for reducing feature set and still providing value? Finding this balance is an art, and if you ask five different people, you will probably get five different answers. However, you can certainly speed up the process by asking these questions:
What goal do your users expect to accomplish with your normal products?
Which of your features will your users need to accomplish that goal?
Referring back to the example of website localization, if your users expect to be able to purchase a specific product, then you have a short list of website features that would be necessary. For this particular example, you will need basic navigation, descriptions of products, and a full check out flow.
Depending on your industry, you may have to include certain types of content in your products to stay in compliance with regulations. This is especially true in international markets, so make sure that you aren’t leaving out anything that is absolutely necessary.
You may have to determine certain elements to include in your MVC through trial and error. One of the best ways is to have an internal audit of your MVC before releasing it to the public. This way, you can make sure that the value in the product is there.
Getting to Market
Although speed is your primary goal, it should not be your only goal. You still need to consider everything that didn’t make the first cut. For instance, if you are talking about a localized website, you may need to suppress certain pages or translate others for an international audience.
Getting to market first means nothing if you do not use the advantage to stay ahead. Make sure that you have a robust process for gathering user feedback. Invoke a continuous improvement philosophy to bring your full catalog of services online in a gradated manner. Once you have determined how to best move the rest of your services into the consumer space, you will also have a better idea of how to prioritize your marketing campaign.
Follow the best practices above for the most efficient use of your MVC. Keep in mind that you need to have your process ready for after the first touch with your customer base.[:]