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How to Get Your New Project to Market as Quickly as Possible

There’s nothing worse than a never-ending project.

Maybe it’s because of perfectionism or because of a fear of selling, or maybe you started out with the wrong kind of product idea to begin with. Whatever the reason, when you keep treading water and a project never seems to come closer to the finish line, it saps your motivation and saps your budget until your business inevitably dies.

To survive and thrive online, you need to get your products and projects to market quickly. And in this post, you’ll discover exactly how you can do that.

Ready, Set,…

Here’s what you need at the outset:

starting-point

You start with a basic idea for your new project or product. This is very simple and you should be able to sum it up in one sentence. Example: “a meal-planning application for athletes”.

The next step is to formulate a USP. Yes, you need a unique selling proposition before you start working on the product. It doesn’t have to be perfect or brilliant. You just need one, so you have a potentially interesting advantage over your competition. Example: “my meal planning application works for people with vegan, keto and paleo diets”.

The third component is your plan and initial target. Here’s the formula you need:

Basic Idea + Details + Dreaming Big

Use Evernote to record every idea you have, related to the project. What will it look like? How will the product be delivered? What are some amazing features that you want in a future version of the product?

important

This is NOT about creating an elaborate business plan. This is NOT about creating a 50-page in-depth strategy document.

At this stage, those would just amount to busy-work and “active procrastination”.

What we’re doing here is simply recording those ideas that are buzzing around in your head anyway. Most likely, you can complete a document with these three steps in less than an hour. In some cases, it might take some time to come up with a USP, but even this will be done before the end of the day.

Here’s an example document for one of my products, WP Sharely:

Download Sample

 As you can see, that’s just one page. With a lot of white space.

Yes, there are more notes that I cut off from the bottom, but the core of the document is tiny. The addition thoughts are just ideas that I record over time, as they come to me.

Also, it’s far from perfect. Do I have a mind-bendingly brilliant USP?

No. Far from it.

Really, all I have are a couple of things I didn’t like about all the content lockers I’d ever tried before. My USP amounts to “mine won’t suck like those do”.

Example: 5 Figures of Good Enough

The above is good enough. It’s not even close to being brilliant, but it’s a project that we got to market in a matter of a few weeks.

I wanted it for my own use and as an upsell to Hybrid Connect. We got it done as quickly as possible and it has brought in $20,982 in two months. That’s the value of getting something to market fast.

Your Minimum Viable Product

Once you’ve got your basic outline, you need a minimum viable product (MVP). Think of the MVP as the smallest version of your product or the simplest preview of your product, that you can use to get some feedback from the market.

Here’s the key, which is widely misunderstood in the Internet marketing space: getting a product to market is not about working fast or cutting corners and doing a sloppy job. The point is not to be in a mad rush and get your product finished as soon as possible. And neither is it a good idea to just create tiny, simple products, as a way to ensure you won’t ever spend much time on them. The key is to start with an MVP and then build your product from there.

Why does this matter?

Because right now, it’s just you and your idea. You assume that people will be interested in buying this, but you don’t know. And the only way to find out is to test.

A minimum viable product doesn’t only serve to get your product to market as quickly as possible, it’s also a clever way to minimize risk.

Picture two scenarios: in the first, you have your product idea and you’re determined to make it perfect. You spend months of time (and all your money) creating that perfect product. Then, you finally release it… only to find out that no one cares. You’ve risked it all and lost it all.

Second scenario: you have an idea for a grand project, but you start by creating a very simple MVP. It’s done in a few days and costs almost nothing. You release it and once again, there’s not much of a reaction. You now have two options: you abandon the project (no big deal, as you haven’t lost much) or you dig deeper and try to find out if people want something like your product, just not exactly what you had in mind.

Here’s an illustration, in more detail:

MVP vs. Waterfall
Click here to view the full infographic (opens in a new tab).

The Feedback Loop

Why do we want to get a minimum version of our product to market as quickly as possible?

There are two reasons:

  1. Getting the Customer
    A “newbie” mistake is to focus on the idea, the product, the brand… when what really matters is getting customers through the door. The MVP focuses on what matters: getting the customer.
  2. Getting Feedback
    You have an idea for a product, but is it really what people want? As soon as you get customers, they will start telling you what they want and need, eliminating guesswork.

This second point is invaluable for any business. The way to build the perfect product for your customers is not to sit and think about it for a long time. It’s to start that feedback loop and discover what your customers really respond to.

There are two components to the feedback loop. The first is simply communication: whether you like it or not, your early customers will give you feedback. They’ll tell you what they do and don’t like. They’ll tell you when something’s broken or doesn’t work for them. They’ll ask questions that you’ve left unanswered.

The second is testing. This one is a bit trickier but also more important. People aren’t always very good at knowing what they really want. Sometimes, you’ll get suggestions that, if implemented in your product, will make one customer happy and everyone else unhappy.

Minimum Viable Product Examples

I believe one of the best ways to learn about anything is by looking at real-life examples. When I was doing some research, trying to find examples of MVPs, I discovered that the term is often misunderstood. Most examples I found were really just stories of businesses that evolved over time. They may have evolved based on user feedback, but unless the first version of their product was deliberately kept small and created to test a product idea, it wasn’t an MVP.

With deep enough pockets, you can invest millions into building a complete product, learn that no one wants it and then invest further millions into turning it into a better product. But that’s not the point of an MVP.

With that said, here are some real examples of minimum viable products:

Example 1: Groupon

How Groupon Got Started
Few companies have had more hype or more controversy surrounding them, than Groupon. What’s interesting to us is how they got started, though.

Groupon was created by a team of people who ran The Point, a group activism site. The Point failed to gain much traction. Someone on the team brought up the idea of offering a platform for group-buying deals, rather than group activism.

And here’s the important part: the first reaction to this idea was not “yes, let’s turn this company around! Full steam ahead!”

The team recognized that this might be a decent idea, but that it needed testing. The MVP for Groupon was a simple WordPress blog, hosted on a subdomain (i.e. they didn’t even spend money on a new domain name). All the work was done manually, at first. They’d write a post describing each day’s new deal, they’d have people sign up for it and they’d manually send out PDF documents with the coupons, by email.

To quote Andrew Mason, the founder of Groupon:

“It was totally ghetto. We would sell t-shirts on the first version of Groupon. We’d say in the write-up: ‘This t-shirt will come in the color red, size large. If you want a different color or size, email that to us.’ We didn’t have a form to add that stuff. We were just… it was so cobbled together.”

You can get some idea of just how basic it was, by visiting the web archives (although styles are missing from the early pages).

As you can see, virtually no money was spent to get this idea off the ground. They didn’t build a group coupon system, custom design a website and then release it to see how it would do. They didn’t actually build anything or start investing until it was clear that they had struck a nerve with the Groupon idea.

Example 2: Buffer

Buffer App

Buffer is a simple app for automatically scheduling your social media activity. It can be used up to queue up a series of messages that will then be sent out on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, throughout the day.

The app experienced very quick growth and its beginnings are a great example of a minimum viable product.

Buffer started as no more than an idea and two simple pages. The first page consisted of little more than three bullet points, explaining what the product is about:

Buffer MVP Page 1

A click on the “Plans and Pricing” button by any visitor was interpreted as a signal of interest. Anyone who clicks is interested enough to at least consider signing up and maybe even paying for the service.

However, keep in mind that at this point, the app didn’t actually exist yet, so this is the page people saw, after clicking the button:

On this page, visitors learn that the app is not available yet, but they can opt in to receive an email notification as soon as development is done. This is very clever, because an opt in is a further signal of interest. In addition, the creators of the app are building up a mailing list of people who will be happy to be initial users and potential customers.

This MVP was shared on twitter and that brought in some initial traffic and enough feedback to validate the idea. Later, a page with a pricing table was added to the mix as well, to test what kind of price range people would be willing to pay, for a product like this. You can read more details in this post.

Buffer serves as an impressive example of how an MVP on a tiny scale with practically zero risk or investment can turn into a profitable business.

Example 3: Kickstarter Projects

kickstarter-mvpKickstarter is a crowd funding platform. It works like this: you create an entry on Kickstarter, where you present your idea and a funding goal (the amount of money you need to complete your project). People who like your project can then help in funding it, by paying whatever amount they choose.

As you can imagine, Kickstarter is full of MVPs. In the gaming industry, Kickstarter has become a force to be reckoned with: small, independent studios have used it to reach new fans and make larger-budget projects possible.

From games to books to new tech gadgets, all kinds of projects are being funded on Kickstarter. In some cases, the projects aren’t MVPs at all, but often, a game will be pitched using nothing more than a short preview video (before any actual development work is done) or a book will be funded before the author starts writing. In these cases, Kickstarter is used not only as a funding source but also as a means to test whether there’s a real market for an idea. In addition, people who back the projects are the perfect candidates to communicate with and get a feedback loop going.

Example 4: Zappos

Zappos MVPZappos is a much lauded company. They are often featured as a shining example of a company with excellent customer support and a unique company culture. As it turns out, the humble beginnings of this billion Dollar company are also a great example of a minimum viable product.

When Zappos was founded in 1999, most people would have told you that no one is ever going to buy shoes online. Surely, with shoes, trying them on for size and comfort is such an essential part of the buying process, you simply can’t compete against brick-and-mortar stores with a virtual one?

Instead of setting up a large online store, filling a warehouse with shoes and then hoping people would buy them, founder Nick Swinmurn took a different approach: he set up a simple little site, went to local shoe stores and took pictures of the shoes there.

Initially, he would go and buy the shoes at the shoe store and then ship them to the customers who ordered them through his site. Clearly, this wasn’t profitable, but it was enough to prove, on a small scale, that people were in fact willing to order shoes online.

You can read more about the Zappos story here.

What About Information Products?

Most of the examples above are for fairly complex businesses – online retail, software as a service and game development (as well as many other Kickstarter projects) are great business models, when done right, but they aren’t ideal for beginners and bootstrappers.

I don’t discourage anyone from building, say, a software company if that’s what you dream of. But given the choice, I can recommend cutting your teeth on smaller, more easily manageable projects first. In this post about what to sell online, I made a similar point.

Luckily, creating smaller products, information products, memberships and the like doesn’t exclude you from being able to build, test and improve your ideas by using MVPs. As an example, we can take a look at my first self-created product.

Info-Product Example

MVP for Infoproducts

The first product I ever created myself was an information product about search engine optimization. More specifically, it was about one aspect of SEO: building backlinks.

The product consisted of a member’s area with close to 30 video-lessons and several downloadable PDF manuals. It was not a small product by any means. However, I didn’t build a huge info-product like that just, just hoping that people would buy it; by the time I officially launched the product I knew people wanted it and were willing to pay for it.

There were many small, cautious steps and stages that led to this certainty:

The first step was simply the blog. Even though the scale was minuscule (I was happy to get 20 visitors a day, at that point), my early blog posts and interactions with just a few commenters showed me that there was demand for clear, actionable information about SEO.

The second step was in free reports. Free products are a great way to test demand for a premium info-product. Before starting work on my premium product, I released three free products. One was about the basics of setting up a website. I didn’t learn much from that. The second was about keyword research. I got a lot of good feedback from that. The third was also SEO related, but it flopped. This was also an important learning experience.

Next comes the mailing list. The freebies put only a few hundred people on my mailing list, in total. But it was enough to get a feedback loop going. It was enough to get a few dozen replies on a survey I sent out. From this basis, the idea that my product should be about backlinks, was formed.

Before the launch, there’s the pre-launch. Even with my idea formed and somewhat validated through surveys and other interactions with my small crowd of readers, I didn’t jump straight into creating a large-scale product. Instead, I created another free product, specifically about backlinks. This attracted more potential customers and strengthened the feedback loop.

Finally, I released my product at a very low price, when it was about 70% finished. This was the final validation: I now knew that people were willing to pay for my product and I had early customers to talk to, so I could refine the product before launching it publicly.

MVP Steps to a Launch

Are all these steps necessary, to launch a product? No, not by any means. I was probably too cautious and too slow, in this process, but it did end up paying off. Get more details on this whole process in the case study video.

Next Steps

Congratulations, you now understand what minimum viable products are really about. The essence of an MVP is that it is built to test an idea. It’s not necessarily a smaller version of a big product and it’s not necessarily a product that then evolves into a different product, over time. It’s just a test and whatever works, to test your idea is a valid MVP.

This is the aspect that most people don’t get about MVPs and where most examples I could find in my online research simply miss the mark.

The next step for you is to build your MVP. Set yourself a deadline for it.

Then scratch that deadline out and set one that’s much closer to the present date. Get it done by the end of the week or the end of the day, even.

And most importantly: no matter what your business idea is and no matter if you have practically no reach, get started!

It’s simple: the time to do something is NOW. What can you start working on right now, so that you can ship something by the end of the week? Stop sitting on your ass and dreaming about what you could build. Start building it right now. And ship it.

Don’t make it perfect, make it happen.

Want Expert Help?

Do you still have unanswered questions about minimum viable products? Want to pitch your MVP idea and get some feedback?

Leave a comment below and I’ll personally respond and provide as much help as I can.

Shane's Signature

P.S.: If you want to dig really deep into this topic, read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. It will forever change the way you think about running a business.

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I'm Shane Melaugh and I'm the guy writing most of the posts on this blog. My goal is to provide you with useful, straight-forward insights on how to grow your business by creating compelling offers, driving traffic and increasing conversions.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 38 comments
Stan Gore - April 11, 2013

Great article. Perfect timing. Here’s my minimal modification: I prefer the MVVP: Minimal Viable Visceral Product. The Product is built to test not just any idea, but one that gives me a good feeling in my gut (ie. the product will not only make money, but also give me and product users pleasure). I’m a perfectionist and normally take months to develop a concept, let alone a product. I got off my ass 3 weeks ago. My son is beginning the second season of a summer B&B/lodge. He has no marketing budget, just a very simple website. He had neither the time nor the inclination to learn or perform any on- or offpage SEO, so the only way anyone finds him in the search engines was via videos I posted for him last year on YouTube. I decided to do some lateral promotion for him. My MVVP was to create a totally non-commercial travel site which provides a tour guide of road trips and sites in his region. It is not an accommodation guide, but actually refers viewers to TripAdvisor for accommodations. However, in addition to the site’s two menu items – Road Trips and Destination – I created a third: Unique B&B/Inn Retreat destinations. To qualify for inclusion, half of the fun had to be the trip to & from the retreat; the other half the experience at the retreat. I featured my son’s business and only one other (about a day trip away, so no direct competition), which met the criteria of a fun, adventurous access. In addition, the trip between the two businesses is unique & memorable.

So what’s the Visceral part of the product?
Not only is the site engaging, educational & fun for the visitor, but I’m deriving great pleasure ranking for multiple high-comp. keywords on pages 1-3 of Google within 2 weeks of launch, with absolutely no blackhat tricks, NO backlinks other than YouTube embeds; ie. proving to me & my son that I’m a self-taught, fuckin’ SEO genius. [How I get these rankings is my proprietary information and that’s why I’m not providing the URL of the site]. If my testing confirms that (i) I hold or improve these rankings over the next 2 months and more important (ii) that my son gets good business from this endeavour, then I’m going to expand this model worldwide, region by region as a full-time business venture, with paying customers….using my son’s stats as proof of concept.

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    Shane - April 11, 2013

    I like it!

    Setting up that whole website is quite a bit of work, but it’s a good testing ground for the idea, for sure.

    If/when you decide to expand out and offer this as a service, I’d also recommend going as lean as possible. Basically, get your first client before you set up a website for your service. I’d try to acquire a client cold or find someone who could make a referral. Having a case study that you can use as proof will be massively helpful. Ideally, the first few clients will pay for the creation of the website and anything else you’ll need, so you can scale the business up without ever making a loss.

    Reply
    chris leonardski - July 2, 2013

    Stan, Priceless = “proving to me & my son that I’m a self-taught, fuckin’ SEO genius” :)

    Reply
Allison Jones - April 11, 2013

Thanks Shane, you hit it on the nail and your post resonate well with what most people are experiencing. Look forward to moving forward with the actionable insights you provided, especially MVP, it makes things more efficient and responsive instead of hesitating/procrastinating with unreasonable thoughts that have no implementation behind them to know what solution will work or not…

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Sunday - April 11, 2013

Very comprehensive and well written piece, Shane!

Many of us get held back because we want things to be perfect before getting started, but we forget that no company EVER started perfectly, even the big dogs.

To help me make things happen, instead of making them perfect right on the go, I go to Archive.org to see how the top sites today started back then. That makes me humble enough to begin small, :)

Thanks again for a very good piece. I have shared and Kingged this on the IM Social Networking site.

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    Shane - April 11, 2013

    I like going to archive.org, to check out how other businesses developed over time, as well! :)

    Reply
Raed - April 11, 2013

Shane,

Its nice to see you looking into The lean startup Model, I guess you should look into the lean canvas if you havnt yet, and I also want to reccomend you read “Running Lean” book which has an amazzing way of guiding you through the book and the model, because Eric Ries can be too technical sometimes.

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    Paul - April 11, 2013

    Eric opened my eyes to the world of cohort testing and how to evaluate the true growth of a company rather than looking at vanity metrics.

    Before reading, I don’t think I really knew how to use web analytics to make decisions and subsequently analyse them to figure out if they were good ones or not.

    Thanks for the recommendation – I’m going to grab that on the kindle and have a read

    Reply
Victoria Rickert - April 11, 2013

Awesome information and great comments. Thanks for sharing what you are also doing Stan. It is for me a new way of looking at marketing, I really liked the steps you laid out. Although, yes I will procrastinate on this, but also it gives me a reality check on what is possible and the simplicity of the process, which just might be the ticket to move forward faster, sweet!

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    Shane - April 12, 2013

    Thanks, Victoria! Sometimes, having the right system really helps with beating procrastination.

    Reply
Mark thompson - April 11, 2013

Great article Shane.
This is a model I’ve been actively perusing over the past 2 products I’ve created.

I’ve got the system refined now so that the time from idea to initial product sale is often less than 4 hours.

Idea=> post to Facebook group for feedback=> if positive webinar style video sales letter => product delivered over 3 or 4 weeks via webinars and modules.

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    Shane - April 12, 2013

    That’s pretty awesome. It’s great when you have something like an FB group where you can quickly get some initial feedback.

    Reply
Steve Pots - April 11, 2013

Great post Shane. Take the day off and go have a beer on me. You have been hitting the blog hard the last few days. I honestly don’t know how you do it.

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Tony - April 11, 2013

Thanks for the actionable blueprint and the real life examples, Shane.

[Just one side note: there is a typo in the Title tag of this page – Makret instead of Market)]

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Kent Kowallis - April 11, 2013

As always,
Thanks for the “food for thought”. I’m at the stage of trying to build my email list, but with the help of your tools (hybrid connect, and wpsharley) and some hard work, hope to see that grow over the next few months.
Kent

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    Shane - April 12, 2013

    Sounds like a plan. A mailing list is a great asset that you can mine for feedback and early users for any projects you build.

    Reply
Mark Salmon - April 12, 2013

This is a great post Shane and very timely. I’ve spent 4 months developing one product and I don’t even know if it’ll fly!!! I’ve already got too much invested in it to be comfortable. Will definitely adopt this strategy in future.

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    Shane - April 12, 2013

    I know too well what that feels like. The problem is: it usually gets worse, the longer you wait.

    Reply
David Moceri - April 12, 2013

Great stuff as you already know this is something I definitely need to improve on.

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George - April 15, 2013

Awesome stuff! I’ve been trying to finish an ebook for the past 4 months and untill now it did not happen because everytime I think “oh, I could write about this” “naah, the last five pages weren’t good enought”…

I shall start doing an MVP or I’ll never even create another product because “it takes to much time…”

Thanks man!

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Chris Badgett - April 16, 2013

Awesome Shane! I liked how you clarified the real MVP vs a business that generally evolved over time.

Also I found your 5 step launch graphic and framework very helpful. There’s a lot of launch checklists out there, but I really like how simple you lay it out.

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Iain - April 25, 2013

Awesome post Shane.

I don’t know why I haven’t attempted to use this type of system before.

It really takes the guess-work out of it. You see if there is a need or a want before you go off making a product that people may not want.

I have thought about a couple of projects that might work, but got stuck on how I would do it. Based on what you have said here I could just create a page to see if people are interested before I make the product at all.

I suppose this same process could work with a service, couldn’t it?

Here is what I am thinking of. Create a service for farmers where I create a site for them because they don’t have time or want to do it for themselves.

The premium service would be create website and put content on it regularly for them so they don’t have to do it themselves.

There would be different tiers depending on how often they wanted things posted.

It’s just an idea I have been thinking about.

What do you think?

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    Shane - April 27, 2013

    Yes, the same absolutely applies to a service, as well.

    I can’t tell you if the service you have in mind will work, but it seems easy enough to test. You can basically start with one single client. You’ll find out what they want and need, what they’re willing to pay etc.
    For client number 2, you’ll already have a more closely tailored package. And I imagine somewhere between clients #10 and #20, you’ll have a full-blown system in place and you can plan for wider deployment.

    Either that or it won’t ever get that far, because you’ll realize there’s no demand for the service. The good thing is that you can start with this with almost zero overhead.

    Reply
      Iain - April 28, 2013

      Good points Shane.

      Like I said it is just something I have been thinking about, and whether it is actually worth it or not.

      As you mentioned, it is very easy to test and see if it is viable at all.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Iain

      Reply
greg - May 2, 2013

Hi Shane – Your blog is just brilliant..You provide so much value! We have actually been speaking on twitter but i was doing a 9-5 job managing a website now i’m running my own SEO offline business and trying to build an online passive income. I’ve just written my very first blog: http://sogregory.com about my 90 day challenge to build an online passive income.

As part of my research into product creation i came across your blog (the first time was when i was looking into alternatives to google analytics and you had a brilliant post then)anywaz i have bookmarked this post because i’m going to follow it word for word :-)

Also i will mention you and your blog in one of my future blog posts so hope it’s ok:-)

You have just made my top 3

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    Shane - May 10, 2013

    Thank you very much, Greg!

    Of course, I’d be honored by a mention on your blog. :)

    Reply
Ryan @ Manifest Income - May 10, 2013

That’s some juicy content Shane!

I’d first like to say evernote is my new best friend, I’ve always been an ideas guy, so it’s nice to be out and about and never lose any thoughts for business ideas.

One of the things that resonated the most from this post is getting feedback.

I’ve got an excellent guest post I’ve written about the dangers of building your business in a bubble, so that will be coming out soon going into more details about the absolutely necessity of getting your audience involved from the beginning.

One thing we’ve found to be very effective especially when you’re building your authority is forum marketing.

Getting out there, finding people that have questions and need answers NOW, and being their knight in shining armor with great informative responses.

My partner Matt Ludwig wrote about it via a guest post called Game Of Forums on FPM:

http://www.firepolemarketing.com/2013/05/03/forums-firestarter/

Would love for you to stop by Shane and add to the discussion.

The fundamental of building a strong business is engagement. Investing that time in building relationships is always a smart approach, as it can open a universe of possibilities once you get on the friendly side of industry leaders.

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MamaRed - January 11, 2014

Holy cow, fantabulous article and hit the nail right square on the head. As a recovering perfectionist who has enough ideas to float a flotilla of huge boats, I hear ya. One part of my challenge is the analytical stuff (should I buy a URL, what theme, blah blah blah) the other is knowing how to get some testers.

I actually did a form of MVP in Nov 2013…have some good feedback and managed to keep my freakouts in check (smile). It’s a 30-year-in-the-making got it out in 3 weeks product for streamlining content creation (I’ve been doing process redesign and content strategy for years with a little bit of the Lean stuff thrown in).

Thanks for this one…sharing with some potential partners and a friend who is stuck on STOP …

Laugh Lots, Love More!
MamaRed

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    MamaRed - January 11, 2014

    OOPS, forgot to say “would love some share buttons” ‘cuz this is good stuff. If I missed them, let me know!

    Reply
    Shane - January 13, 2014

    Thanks for your comment! I have the perfectionism problem as well. I’m endlessly tempted to work on things “just a bit longer”, but I have to keep reminding myself of this process, otherwise I’d never publish anything. :D

    Reply
Chad - November 21, 2014

Shane, this might be a bit late to comment on this post but I value your input so I’m gonna ask anyways. Hope you still follow this post and respond.

I agree with MVP when it comes to a software product, but I still have hard time to grasp the MVP/Beta concept for info products. For example;

1) The goal of an info product is to get somebody a desired result, right? This means even your MVP has to produce results. The knowledge you need to share for that result is the same. I don’t see how MVP differs from a complete product considering the fact that you need to deliver a specific result.

2) If you charge people for your MVP, how do we position it? Get a half product which won’t give you results now, but will in the future? And since you’re willing to pay for the non-complete product(no results) you’ll save money? Confused here.

3) Let’s say all that is true; (assuming your MVP is not free) then what happens if MVP fails and you decide to ditch the complete product idea? Do you just refund people and tell them my plan of turning this into a full/complete product is now history? Wouldn’t that hurt your credibility for your future products?

I don’t know if you’ll respond but wanted to ask anyways:) I hear this MVP/Beta concept a lot, but don’t really see how it works for info products.

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    Shane - November 22, 2014

    Hi Chad,

    This is a great question and I think I need to make a separate post about it. In short, I have a completely different view on MVPs for information products. You’re absolutely right about delivering a result or delivering real value in some way, but this can be done on many levels.

    Think of the field that you specialize in (the subject your info product would be about) and think of how many details you know and how many different sub-areas there are in this topic. In my experience, it’s fractal. You can always “zoom in” on a certain sub-topic and find as much richness of information there as you did one step before.

    That means you can easily create an information product that is massive in scope and detail and covers countless details of countless sub-topics in your main topic. But you can also just pick one thing and teach that in a much smaller product.

    The trick is to find small chunks of information that will already deliver a good result. To give you a specific example, look at my own “Better Blog” mini-course. This is a free product, but from the feedback I’ve gotten about it, I could easily charge a small amount for it and customers would be happy with this as a purchase. The mini-course consists of 4 steps and they are all related to blogging. As you can imagine, I have a lot more to say about blogging than what I fit into those 4 short videos. And blogging isn’t even a specialty of mine. If I was a real expert on the topic, I could create a massive course about it, covering every detail. However, you still get real value out of this mini-course, if you choose to apply what you learn from it. In fact, you get real value out of each individual video. Even if you just watch one of the parts and apply what you learn, you will end up with a better, more effective blog. It won’t be a huge difference, but it will be a real, measurable result.

    In the end, this applies to all your content. Every piece of content you release, no matter whether it’s free or you charge for it, needs to deliver some kind of real value. But providing every part of the whole picture is not the only way to deliver real value.

    Reply
Chad - November 22, 2014

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the great input! Your approach makes it easier to understand. At least it makes more sense than “test the incomplete product” approach.

If I’m not mistaken, you’re saying 2 things:

1) Make the MVP “less rich” on content, bu still make sure it provides value&results” (your better blog mini-course example).

2)Pick a subtopic and teach that subtopic in detail.

Let me clarify this with a specific example; Lets say you’re creating a product and it’s about writing, publishing, marketing and selling ebooks online(4 phases). That’s your complete product, because that’s how people can get measurable results(creating, selling and start making money from an ebook).

Then, what would your MVP be for that complete product?

a) Teach those 4 phases with just a few main points under each phase? (If that gives your customers the desired result, why would you want to add more points?…That I don’t understand:)

b) Take a phase and create a product just for that phase(e.g: how to write an ebook). I don’t know what writing an ebook is good for unless you know how to sell it, but I guess that’s the sick “result oriented perfectionist” side of me trying to mess me up:)

c) Teach the complete course in a different and simpler format(e.g: do a teleseminar series instead of a video course which you’ll be required to script, record, edit, etc.). But still you need to create the same content to teach regardless of your delivery format, right? So doesn’t make any sense to me other than your production time might be shorter if you choose that route for MVP.

Anyways, don’t want to turn this into “a weird subscriber trying to get some consulting session from you”:) After all this is just a blog post and not a mentoring wall. I’m just sharing my thoughts in case it’d help others who’ll read this post in the future.

As you mentioned, a separate post on this topic would be great… and I’ll appreciate if you could address these points on there as well.

Thanks again for your previous response. It was helpful and gave me a bit of more clarity on the MVP concept.

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