In a previous post I covered the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) as a means of supporting learning and validation of ideas during product development. To complete the picture I would now like to address the concept of minimal marketable product (MMP), which is a version of the product that is just sufficient to go to market with. On the one hand, MVP is used to validate whether you’re on the right path in creating a product that is valuable for users while reducing the risk of failure and waste; MMP is, on the other hand, aimed at achieving short time-to-market while delivering the right functionality to provide value to customers.
What makes the MMP?
The idea of the MMP is to bring your product to market as early as possible, where it contains just the minimum set of features needed to satisfy the user! This is valid for functionality as well as user experience and visual design. The product should be intuitively usable and contain the minimal functionality so that it still delivers value to users. These are basic conditions in order to launch a product successfully.
How to get there?
Developing a product that conforms to the concept of MMP can be tricky. The easy way is to start with ideas out of a brainstorming session (which is a good start actually) combined with assumptions of project staff (which is not a good start in my eyes). Assumptions in my experience have too often proven wrong when it comes to real users and their needs. Therefore the concept of the MVP is available to help you in validating your ideas. At the end of the day no one likes to put effort in a product that is rejected by users and as a side effect is a waste of time and money. There are better ways to fail, fail earlier and fail cheaper! In projects I’ve participated in, the approach of using the MVP & MMP concepts lead to products that could be launched with confidence. Assumption based products on the contrary hold higher risk of waste and might surprise you negatively after launch.
There are many tools/techniques/concepts out there that support developing a MMP. However, they cannot all be covered in a single post. Still I would like to try to outline what to pay attention to in order to build a valuable product efficiently.
First of all, get a clear idea of who your target group is. Work with personas to make the target group specific. Obviously it won’t help if you aim at a target group that is too broad, therefore try to limit your target group as much as you can and start with a small target group. You can always target new users after initial launch and real user feedback.
Just as important as defining the right target group, is to ensure you address the right problem that you want to solve. This is a key point when it comes to delivering a valuable product in the end. You need to understand how to help users to make their lives easier or how to solve problems they might have without your product.
With these two pre-conditions in mind you are on a good way to deliver value to your target group and you can start thinking about the product itself. For each piece of functionality, user experience or fancy design you intent to add, challenge whether this is really necessary in order to help the user or not. Look at examples like google or bing search pages, they basically contained just an input field and a search button when they were launched. Only after years and feedback from real users were they extended and features like images search were added. These search pages are quite successful so I would guess they make our lives easier.
With one of the numerous prioritization techniques available, such as MoSCoW, the Kano Modell, Story Mapping, Value vs Risk or Financial Analysis to name a few, you will be able to narrow down your feature set to the minimum.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
To wrap up the concepts of MVP & MMP for product development, keep in mind that they are very compatible to be used with agile software development, in particular scrum is a good match.