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CEO TALK: Planning a Product-led Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

During the Product Led Summit in July 2019, OnceHub Co-founder and CEO, Rami Goraly discussed the key considerations when planning a product-led MVP. Topics included market analysis, MVP scoping, pricing, onboarding and how to set realistic expectations for a Minimum Viable Product. Read more below and/or view the full presentation here:

Planning a minimum viable product (MVP) is always a significant challenge. When planning an MVP under a traditional high touch sales approach, an organization has many stakeholders who work with your customers to ensure the success of your product; from developers and product managers to sales engineers and marketing teams. It is a very different situation when planning a product-led MVP. In this scenario, once your product is released to market, you have limited control for influencing a positive outcome for your customer. The product must be able to stand-alone and sell itself without the support structures of a traditional sales model.

In order to prepare a product-led MVP for success, you can not rely on product performance alone. There are a number of key considerations for planning a product-led MVP including market analysis, pricing, customer onboarding, precise website messaging and the overall customer experience. What’s more, the maturity of your chosen market and the use case/s you serve have a significant influence on the number of features your MVP needs in order to gain market traction.

Key Considerations for Planning a Product-led MVP

  • Differentiators vs. Table Stakes – a product-led MVP must comprise of features that are both differentiators and table stakes. Differentiators are those unique features that set you apart from the competition and table stakes are those core features that your customers expect. Without table stakes you will not gain any traction in the market, and without differentiators, you will have no unique, competitive advantage.
  • Table stakes are your worst enemy – the ideal window of opportunity for entering a market with a product-led MVP is close to the stage of early adoption. Once a market matures, more vendors emerge offering similar features (table stakes), early market differentiators quickly migrate to table stakes, and your ability to deliver unique differentiators decreases.
  • Number of features required for MVP – when you enter an emerging market at the optimal time you don’t require a large MVP. The later you enter the market, the more features you require to gain traction – differentiators are hard to identify and table stakes are plentiful. If you’re entering the market late, then your MVP will need to be much larger to accommodate the required table stakes.
  • An MVP is not always small – when it comes to an MVP, there is no one-size that fits all. Depending on the use case and the maturity of the market, an MVP can vary in size from very small to very large. If you intend to enter a market with a small MVP, you need to find an emerging market with a single scenario use case. The more scenarios you serve and the more use cases you automate, the larger your MVP needs to be.
  • Remove price as a point of friction – when planning your product-led MVP you should seriously consider taking pricing out of the equation in the first instance. Early release under a ‘free in beta’ model, or long free trial allows you to focus your attention on improving your product features and eliminating pricing as a point of friction.
  • No need to overdo your launch – If you’ve done everything right then you shouldn’t need to invest too much time or money on your launch. Ensure the right measures are in place so that you can make corrections quickly, and let your user base grow naturally.

Planning a product-led MVP requires much more than a focus on product performance alone. To learn more about the topics covered in this blog, including examples from the Scheduling software market, watch the full presentation here: CEO TALK: Planning a Product-led Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

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