very good post. I agree 100%; but not sure that these are the only things for MBP.
Interesting angle on the MBP as the next step after the MVP. I'm looking forward to seeing strategies with these constructs, and how to present them to potential investors.
Nice insights... I think you've got a very good point. But there is one other thing I'd add: the corollary to "easy to stay" which is "easy to leave." Yes, it should be "easy to leave" as counter-intuitive as it may seem. If you app captures or records data (and what kind of app doesn't), then there should be an obvious, easy to use, "export" function that exports data to a standard, easily parseable format.
Otherwise, why would I risk trial'ing your software, when I risk losing access to all the data that builds up during the trial, if I eventually decide to leave (or if your company folds, etc.)
Make it easy to leave, so people are more likely to enter in the first place.
Philip: I totally agree. I almost included "Easy to Leave" in the original set of features, but decided against it -- not because it's not important, but because there was a small overlap with the "Easy to Try". But, I should have included it.
Good info and well written! maybe there should be soemthing in there somewhere about asking the customer what they want - easy to comment?
Another great article, Dharmesh.
You make a great point about treating the purchase elements in the product as importantly as the main features. We made the mistake of not thinking that part through thoroughly. We're also now going "back to the basics", or as Steve Blank would say, "pivoting" again trying to find the minimum viable product in our space. Startups should be proud that they have less features instead of more, and we learned that the hard way :)
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Great article. The other thing I would add to your list is "Purple Cow" differentiators. Every product needs something truly "remarkable" that highlights its U.S.P. and causes people to talk about it and spread the word.
Otherwise, this is a fantastic way to simplify what's needed:
M.V.P. + Purple Cow Features = Success
I'll buy in to the MBP as the next step after MVP.
And I would also like to point out specifically what you did not fold into the MBP: any concept of feature creep. Once you find an MVP, your marketing or sales lead is going to immediately want to start incrementing the feature set in order to (fingers-crossed) increment the serviceable available market.
Beware! The MBP elements that Dharmesh enumerates have more to do with CRUSHING IT than they do with chasing the hockey stick at any cost.
The most important sentence in this excellent article is: "If it’s a part of your customer’s experience with you, it’s a feature of your product."
The reason is that not all "products" are alike: Some are more complex than others, some are service based and when one reads the first 5 points/features the obvious question could be: How can one maximize a product that *by design* is intended to have a single, minimal, feature?
Fortunately, by including "customer experience" in the product features, you have covered all bases. Thanks for another great blog post.
Hi! Just joined today and read this post. Seemed like it was for me as I am working on a 'product' now. "How do I do this?" popped up in my mind as I read it. Finally recalled a book I had read sometime ago - Marketing as Strategy by Prof. Nirmalya Kumar, Penguin Portfolio. Looked it up. Chapter 2 & 3 are good starting points.
The point is that while the design process may throw up these needs we don't necessarily build all of them into the product.
Am ambivalent about "Easy to Leave" for an non-software product. I would build it in but use it only as a last resort to close the deal.
Excellent !! I agree 100 % !
Where does easy referrals fit in?
I suggest Maximum profitable Product.
With the minimum viable product being a lessons learned vehicle the maximum proftiable produt is the vehicle to bring in the profits from the lessons from the MVP.
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I think the debate should be... shouldn't an MVP already be MBP!!!
I back-linked you on my Blog were I start the debate, MBP or do another MVP: http://tytusblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/maximum-ally-buyable-product-what-is.html
Agree with all points - they are required for an MBP however, I'd argue, not sufficient. Let's assume an MVP is built but the team couldn't scale to MBP. I could think of at least a handful of reasons for such a scenario, that are not addressed by "easy to..." points:
- continuous product/market fit is not maintained
- overestimated adressable market size
- underestimated acquisition costs
- suboptimal choice of sales channels
- etc., etc., etc.
In other words it'd be possible to built an easy-to-try-buy-use-leave solution that is looking for a problem.
Misha points out some real issues, but does the premise beg the question? Isn't the purpose of an MVP to learn as much as you can about the customer fit? That learning should yield answers to Misha's points -- if it doesn't, then you don't have an MVP.
Or am I overestimating the amount and level of learning the MVP should bring prior to evolving it into an MBP?
My sales copy is not converting and I think I am making something about the product too complicated.
For example, I regret that I only have paypal to offer as a payment option and go to great lengths to assure how great it is. It is like I say: buy now but sorry it is only paypal but these are the benefits (e.g. easy for them even if they do not have an account; even easier to refund, bank account not shared with me, private etc) and other things I may be doing.
It is really great to coin phrases, I think this one will stick.
Good point, Matthew.
As you know, MVP is deployed to early adopters - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product and the problems of converting from early adopters to mainstream have been extensively covered (Geoffrey Moore). Further just as Dharmesh, I am a big fan of Eric Ries and Steve Blank who highlighted the broken startup model and the benefits of customer development, learning, pivoting, bootstraping, etc. all of which helps you to get over the first threshold. It is getting from the point to Phase 3 "profits" that is less clear, an "Underpants Gnomes" syndrome of sorts.
I think it's a great idea to explore concepts like this.
With the oversupply and over-availability of products (many of which are junk) I think it's a good idea to consider another dimension.
Instead of "is there a market" it's "how do I find the market" for my product. That shift makes a big difference in your thinking.
With low visibility it's gotta be visible to enough people in enough likely markets. In other words you can give up on a product that would be a raging success if you had attracted the attention of the right people.
High visibility has it's own dangers too. If your product is trumpeted on TV, newspapers etc. that will doom it to some audiences. You might not care, depends on circumstances. (I sense a backlash against the inanities, and plain wrongness, of the conventional media...)
Bingo -- all of this rests on identifying the customers and connecting their motivations with the product's.
And therein lies another way for a startup to differentiate itself, even if competing in a seemingly crowded space.
Just as some engineering teams will build better tech, some customer development teams will build better relationships. Note that I use "relationship" as a generic term to capture all that goes in to identifying-, conversing with-, delivering to-, and supporting a customer or potential customer.
Thanks for the great conversation, everyone!
I really like the article, and would love to see it converted to a science similar to what Eric Ries has done with the whole Lean Startup movement.
From deciding how to prioritize such features to tactics that help in building them all - articles on such topics can be really helpful.
Perhaps IMVU's talk at SLLConf was another that needs to be added to the list of resources on this topic.
@Alexa, is not "easy to find" part of "easy to buy" I agree with your points; I just presumed that those would be included in the plan for "easy to buy." I see so many entrepreneurs who do not think enough about distribution. Unless one is selling a cure for a major disease, then you need to think about how you're going to sell this puppy.
@Desmond, you're right, it can be included in the "easy to buy" category. After all, if your clients can find your product in a convenient location, it's not easy to buy.
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I enjoyed this article a lot, Dharmesh. Thanks for the tips.
My line of thoughts:
When will be MVP achieved, when first sales happens, this means we can be sure in terms of effort measurement how much will be needed.
When will MBP achieved, don't know because we can keep on adding features and functionality to product but we will always remain unsatisfied saying MBP is not yet achieved, time and effort will be sucked in like black hole.
Whats the way out where to stop?
Really a nice post and a nice niche to write a post.
MBP, very interesting twist. Focuses more on getting accepted by the end-user to make it sell-able. One of the biggest challenge is in marrying UCD (user centered design) process into a Lean development process (MVP). There are couple of blogs which share success, we (at SpadeWorx) have learnt through our experiences and carved out best practices. Happy to share if anyone is keen on discussing it.
@Shailesh, I am definitely interested in hearing of successes and more details.
great post, very educational, thanks
Interesting post. Love the MBP term. With respect to Hubspot (Im a user), I don't think Point #5 is part of the product. Once a small company signs up, it is forced to migrate its hosting completely over to Hubspot and if it wants to leave there is no easy way to capture all the changes made to the website - a big barrier.
@Rahul - I don't know if I agree (re: Hubspot). Yes, #5 is *the* reason that we haven't moved to using it, but I have a feeling that they have a good reason to have not yet implemented it - the effort for them to provide the capability might be just too much. I would be surprised if the feature is not on their todo list.
Great post, I wonder as I read the points over and over how much of them are completely reliant on technology. As I work to provide tech advice to entrepreneurs these things ring clear in your maximum buyable frame of reference, especially making products easy to buy and how easy it is to leave, or try. I've used so many products that don't explain how to try out a service or application, or what comes next...you're points are right on, and call entrepreneurs to have a good tech guy (like me) or know what their doing. Hmm, what do you think?
@Vinnet exactly my point - it is a barrier. I used to think it was a strategic decision but after reading Dharmesh's post they are probably working on it like you say.
@rahul -- You are right. We have lots of work to do on several of these points (including #5). We have not yet achieved the "Maximally Buyable Product" yet at HubSpot. But, we aspire to it.
On "Easy to Leave"
1. Depends on a business you are in:
eBay - no such problem
FogBugz, BackPack - problem exist
2. It is easy to leave if:
a) you can purchase an own copy of software by fixed price or get it for free after X many years of being a customer (vendor should build it too but I did not see such offering from anybody yet).
b) if place you are leaving to offers import from system you are leaving via API. Example, GMail offers almost easy mail transfer from YMail. It means YahooMail is intentionally or not make it easy to leave them.
This also means you (as business) do not need to allow data export in XML as suggested above BUT create API allowing your competitors to still your customers technically but still give no chance to them by providing an excellent service.
You can write in big letters - we allow moving from our platform. Our competitors do NOT.
Another great post, but I found myself struggling to fit the following into any of the 5 "Easy to..." points. It is that the Pricing needs to have two characteristics - it needs to be in my comfort zone for the type of service that is being offered, and it needs to be that any premium price gives me features I actually would pay extra for. A lot of freemium SaaS products do what you advise now, but (a) the monthly price per user does not motivate me to try; and (b) the extra cost often gives just more storage space when I am not using my free quota in the first place.
I think this is a great list of concepts to bear in mind when building an online service based product. I'm not sure it holds true 100% of the time and naturally there will be instances - as some have commented - where more is reuqired. I would think specifically that there must be a "clear value" offered. What will I gain? Save time, save money, make money? This must be explained upfront.
Keep up the great work.
Point 5. Easy To Leave is a real powerful insight. If I need to trap my customers to stay in a relationship with onerous, annoying, and difficult ways to cancel, what is the cost of their ongoing revenue (gym memberships) versus their cost of customer referrals for a great service.
I can imagine passionate conversations in many company marketing/sales calls on developing cancellation policy.
Like any bad relationship, trapping someone to stay in is a pretty dicey way to stay involved.
Fresh example of non locking.
You decided to pay for this portal and use it as tech support tool for your product. You have 500 questions answered and now what? Well, you will have CSV file with all these data because somebody decided to make a dent in Universe because they already have been built "a nice Italian restaurant" on the web and they want to "dent". Non locking means leaving your existing customers with the product they once trusted and do not provide a CSV file
Minimally viable advice, to capture maximum potential opportunity:
"Make it easy for people to try, buy."