"It's about smart learning."
Once the domain of Silicon Valley startups, the "build small, iterate quickly" mantra at the heart of the minimum viable product (MVP) concept is slowly taking root in mainstream business. Companies of all sizes across industries are using the concept to drive intrapreneurial innovation and in an effort to become more nimble and adaptable. This is especially true for firms whose market share is threatened by new entrants touting a disruptive business model.
Coined by consultant Frank Robinson nearly 30 years ago in 1987, the minimum viable product term and concept have only really gained popularity over the past decade. That gain is largely thanks to Stanford professor and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank and his Customer Development Methodology, which codified a product growth strategy grounded in customer discovery and customer validation.
The concept of an MVP is more about process than about an actual product. Blank says that today, the minimum viable product is about smart learning. It's a process based on interactions, iterations and understanding your customers' needs, pain points and the validity of your value proposition.
The MVP Website and Proactive Execution
Applying an approach that incorporates the process of customer validation, a check against assumptions and iterative building based on results and feedback can help you stay proactive as you execute your marketing plan. One area where the MVP fits particularly well is with your website and your Inbound marketing efforts, given that they're so closely tied together.
As a lead generation tool and conversion point for customers, your website provides you with the opportunity to validate and improve upon many things that you might have traditionally designed on assumption or identified as concerns much later, after the build was complete.
The concept of the MVP and the concept of Conversion Optimization share many tenets. The primary difference between the two is that Conversion Optimization is a methodology that combines the risk-minimizing and user-validation aspects of an MVP with the execution of Inbound marketing. In this case, the MVP is known as a launch pad website.
Launch Pad Websites as your MVP
The idea of a launch pad website in the Inbound world is easily and often mistaken for something that isn't fully functional, is only partially built and is largely "incomplete." An MVP in any industry suffers from some of the same misconceptions. If you're cutting out things in order to get to market faster, then you're not creating an MVP, you're just taking a shortcut that may or may not work out.
A true launch pad website is fully featured, will have better aesthetics than your old site and provide an improved user experience. The only thing that's minimally viable about it is that at the time of launch it only includes the highest-converting assets and areas which have historically shown the largest impact on your business.
While building your launch pad site, start to strategically plan for the short- and long-term future. Define assumptions and growth goals and prioritize website features and assets you believe will be impactful.
Once you're live, follow a recurring monthly process of testing against your assumptions by building out features and content based on their priority and measuring the results against your original hypothesis. Over time, your "MVP website" is going to take shape into a custom-made lead generation tool that speaks to your users because it was designed, in part, by your users. There's certainly nothing minimal about that.