Getting From Minimum Viable Product to Minimum Viable Purpose

3 Ways To Outline Your Minimal Viable Purpose and Become Interesting

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In wake of Peter Thiel’s rant about the lean startup and minimum viable product betraying a lack of ambition, consider the Minimal Viable Purpose.

In fact, your value proposition–the cornerstone of your minimum viable product–is about more than iterating your product on customer feedback. It is very much the big idea you’d use to guide your grand vision and ambitious long-term plan. Because in new markets there are few or no other products that users can compare you to. It’s simply too early for users to understand how you are different. Hence, your value proposition should communicate a vision for what could be.

Yet your value proposition brief is probably the earliest and minimum-ist viable product you’d develop as a lean startup. Ranging from an one-liner to a couple of paragraphs, it is the messaging you attach to whatever medium — it be an email, a news article, a website, a poster, a Google ad — that serves your minimum viable product strategy. It’s that version of your product which allows for maximum amount of validated learning with the least effort, according to Eric Ries.

Discovering and cramming your true north into a MVP, however, is no simple task. So, you might be asking; what to include and what not to for ‘the Peter Thiels’ (he’s not alone about this argument) to embrace my idea?

Here are three ways to make your ambition and minimum viable product go hand in hand.

1. Understand the job your customer want’s to get done

HBS-professor Clayton Christensen argues that a successful customer value proposition begins with genuinely understanding the customer’s jobs-to-be-done — the higher purpose for which customers buy your product. Out of the functional, social, and emotional types of jobs, the latter might be the most powerful one. Inform your user research accordingly.

2. Start With Why

Simon Sinek developed his very own movement by teaching us how to create movements through inspiration.

Sinek’s key argument “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it” aligns with that of Clayton Christensen. When getting started at your value proposition brief, start with why.

3. Create a sentimental bond

Don Draper of Mad Men famously said; “Technology is a glittering lure. But there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product.” In delivering your pitch, have the courage to touch upon feelings.

What these videos — fiction or not — have in common is, they want you to emotionally connect with your audience and get to know who your audience really are and what moves them. You’d want your story to be about them, not about yourself. Also, the best value propositions dare to be incomplete. They leave room for imagination. They focus on the bigger picture; pain, purpose, passion.

Whether it is in website copy, advertisements, slide decks or in good old fashioned elevator pitches, minimum viable product is not just about the product. It is an approach to finding product-market fit. For that you’d want a value proposition for what could be — a reason to exist.

Make sure to check out the 7 proven templates and examples for writing value propositions or let me know what you think on Twitter.

Doctoral research fellow and asst. professor, Digital Innovation, University of Oslo and Iserv Computing. Twitter @tor

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