If you want to develop and launch a new product, you need to be able to look into the future and anticipate what will be trending and what customers will be eager to buy in a few months. But very few of us can look into the future or do lengthy market and customer analyses. In this context, Agile Product Development applies the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP). Read on to learn what the MVP and MMP is and how they are applied to make your product development even more successful.
What is a Minimum Viable Product?
Before I introduce you to the Minimum Marketable Product, let me show you very briefly what the Minimum Viable Product is. If you would like to learn more about Minimum Viable Product, I described in detail what an MVP is in this article.
The term Minimum Viable Product MVP was defined in 2001 by Frank Robinson and then popularized by Eric Ries through his book The Lean Startup.
Here is the original definition by Eric Ries:
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”
That means, a Minimum Viable Product is the first version of a product, that contains enough features of sufficient quality to attract a first group of customers and, crucially, provides valuable feedback and information on how customers use and appreciate the product.
As the definition of Ries makes clear, the MVP is not a product with the least possible functionality necessary for a public launch. Rather, the MVP is the key to using the scientific method for building products. It is purely a mechanism for validated learning, used to test hypotheses and discover what will meet customers’ needs.
The following figure shows the cycle of validated learning by Eric Ries.
What is a Minimal Marketable Product (MMP)?
A Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) could be the next practical step after MVP in the product development process. While an MVP focuses on validating assumptions and learning about your users preferences, an MMP incorporates a core set of functionalities that addresses customer/ user needs, creates the desires user experience and can start creating quantifiable value for the business. An MMP can be released to market with its must-have functionality that can then be scaled and developed to incorporate the “nice to have” functionality at a later stage. The MMP primarily is a tool to reduce time-to-market and: It can be launched more quickly than a fat, feature-rich product.
Creating a Product With Just the Right Amount of Features
Creating a product with just the right number of features sounds like common sense. Why would we create more features than necessary? Many projects developed over-engineered products with lots of nice features that provided little value to the users but cluttered the product and increased the maintenance cost. It is tempting to add just another cool feature to a product. Using the concept of an MMP helps you focus on what really matters and removes unnecessary features.
An example that is often mentioned for an MMP is the first iPhone, which was released in 2007. What made this successful was that Apple stripped back the entire product to cater to a select set of customer needs. it was interesting how many features the phone did not provide compared to its competitors. Apple avoided the pitfall of trying to please everyone at once and instead used the MMP as a product to build upon and extend the capabilities of the phone over time.
The Steps Towards a Minimal Marketable Product
The key to creating a successful MMP is to “develop the product for the few, not the many,” as Steve Blank points out, and to focus on those features that make a real difference to the users. To discover the right features for the MMP, the MVP is a fantastic tool.
You need to understand thoroughly your product’s value proposition and only select the features that are essential to address the needs of the target group. Have the courage and discipline to discard all others for now. Selecting the minimal set of features does not mean creating a boring or simplistic product. It means focusing on those properties that are essential for the product success. For each epic or user story ask yourself if the product can be shipped without it. If yes, exclude the story. As the French writer and poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery put it:
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Adopting this approach is a win- win for both the business and the development teams. For the business, it means that you are creating a product that is based on validated knowledge, which significantly reduces the risk of failure. For development teams, it means that they are not wasting time building out features that are irrelevant, or even detrimental, to a product.
Going from the MVP to the MMP
It is often a good or logical approach to combine the two concepts, develop one or more MVPs to test your ideas and to acquire the relevant user and market knowledge. Then use your new insights to create and launch the MMP—a product with just the right features and a great user experience, as the following picture shows:
Keep in mind that a Minimal Marketable Product differs from a viable one: It is complete enough to be ready for general release, as you can see by the gift wrapping in the picture above. With the MMP, however, there are a few more activities to do. For example, launch preparation activities have to take place for an MMP, creating advertising campaigns, or for some products, gaining certification. Let’s go back to your MVPs. They are likely to be throwaway prototypes that only serve to acquire the necessary knowledge; others are reusable product increments that morph into a marketable product.
Product development in an agile environment is an exciting endeavor and here the MVP and MMP, but also the Lean Startup Cycle are extremely helpful methods.
Here You Can Find Even More Knowledge
This was an overview about the Minimum Marketable Product. What is your experience with MMPs? Do you agree with my statements in this article or do you have a different opinion? Share your experience with the readers in the comment box below so we can all get a broader view. Thank you!
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