You’ve got a digital product concept that you need to test in the market but how do you decide between building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or an MMP (Minimum Marketing Product)? And what’s the best go-to-market strategy for each?
In this article we’ll explore the differences between MVPs and MMPs so you can decide which one to go with, plus the options you have to get one built and the best approach to launch both in the marketplace.
The difference between an MVP and an MMP
An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a product with just enough features to allow for users to experience its core functionality. The objective here is to test the product’s concept and gather user feedback early on in the development process. The idea behind releasing an MVP rather than a fully-fledged digital product is to validate the product’s value proposition and identify problems which can be addressed quickly.
In short, an MVP aims to test and validate a product concept. We produced a complete guide to MVPs that digs deeper into minimum viable products.
Alternatively, an MMP (Minimum Marketable Product) is a product with enough features and functionality to attract early adopters and begin generating traction. It’s a product ready for market but doesn’t have all the features and functionality that the fully developed end product will have. An MMP aims to get the product into users’ hands as fast as possible, gather feedback, and use that feedback to iterate and improve the product.
To sum up, an MMP concentrates on getting a product to market and generating traction.
Should I create an MVP or an MMP?
So, how do you know whether an MVP or an MMP is the best approach for your new product concept?
Think of this as a digital project and start off with defining the specific goals and resources available to help you deliver that project. Considering certain factors will help you decide between an MVP or an MMP.
If your digital product concept is very much a theory and you want to test the value proposition in the marketplace before investing the time and money in a full product, then an MVP is the way to go. Better to be sure there actually is a market for your product rather than assume there is then regret the time and money spent on a fully-fledged product nobody wants.
But if you have evidence there’s already a strong demand for the product and you have the resources to build the full product, then an MMP is the best approach. In these circumstances, getting the product into users’ hands is the most important thing so you can start gathering data and feedback from early adopters to iterate and improve future releases.
Development time and resource
It was Eric Reis in his book, The Lean Startup, that famously coined Minimum Viable Product (MVP), defining it as,
“A version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about users with minimal effort.”
In other words, an MVP means more speed and less spend when it comes to new product development – the emphasis is to gather user feedback as quickly as possible so you can start the process of learning as quickly as possible. This is the best approach when you have limited time and investment resource and are unsure of market demand.
Creating an MMP, on the other hand, requires more development time and therefore more investment. Often seen as the next practical step after an MVP in the product development process – think of it as version 1 of the product that you’ll release to the market.
In agile software development, an MMP will assume you’ve completed validated learning and have an evidence-based and data-driven understanding of your target users and preferences. This feedback will help you make the decisions as you iterate and improve future versions of the MMP until you’re confident in developing and releasing the full product.
When you come up with an idea for a digital product, it’s not the complexity of the product that can throw you off track. Indeed, the very things that fuel entrepreneurialism – your passion, excitement and drive - can distract you into getting caught up with the plethora of features it could have to please every user. It’s a natural thought process to have but it’s one that usually ends in costly failure. Not only will the product take a long time to develop, it’s a risky approach to develop features that haven’t been validated with your target users.
Whether your product is complex or not, creating an MVP will mitigate investment risk and reduce time to market. Testing the product’s core functionality and gathering user feedback will validate your hypothesis through gaining early insight on what does and doesn’t work before committing to full development.
Knowledge is power, as they say, and having user data and information in the early stage of your product’s lifecycle means you can establish a visible and defined roadmap for its development.
How do I get an MVP or an MMP built?
When it comes to how and who will build the MVP or MMP, there are normally two routes to choose from. Establish your own internal team and develop inhouse, or outsource to an expert external partner like a digital product studio.
This decision depends on the resources you have in terms of time, expertise and, of course, budget for creating the MVP or MMP.
When considering establishing an internal team, you’ll need to recruit and onboard expertise in product and programme management, UX and UI design, and front and back end development. An inhouse team can be more cost-effective in the long term as the team assembled will know the product inside-out. Plus a team that’s been together from the startup’s beginning can be invested in the brand’s vision and mission which lends itself to the success of the product throughout its lifecycle.
On the other hand, engaging with a digital product studio opens the door to wider expertise consisting of small, multi-disciplinary teams and the increased innovation that comes with external eyes and experience from having worked in multiple sectors. A digital product studio will also have established systems and processes in place to develop the MVP or MMP that get you to market quickly.
How do I launch an MVP to market?
There are several go-to-market strategies that are effective when it comes to launching your MVP in the marketplace. But these tried and tested tactics will help you generate traction for your early stage digital product.
Identify a group of users – ‘early adopters’ – who’re interested in trying the new product and are likely to provide the valuable feedback needed to start the learning process. These early adopters can help spread the word about the product and provide firsthand insights and data that can be used to improve the product.
Offer a limited number of spots for beta testing the MVP to a select group of users. Beta testers can provide valuable feedback on the product and help identify any issues that need to be addressed before the product is fully developed.
If you’ve already established a digital network and have a large and engaged online community then using a crowdfunding platform is a great option to not only raise funds but create a buzz for the MVP.
Landing page and email list
Create a landing page for the MVP and use an email marketing platform to build an email list of potential customers. You can use this list to gather pre-launch interest and email feedback surveys once the MVP has launched.
In terms of the app and website domains, it's best practice for the app to be a subdomain of the website (e.g., app.domain.io). The choice of domain ultimately depends on your branding and target audience. For global companies, domains ending in .com or .org are commonly used, while .co.uk and .org.uk are suited for UK-only companies. The .io domain is becoming increasingly popular within the digital space.
Do some research into the social media platforms that your target audience is likely to be on and when. Post regular updates on your product’s development – include teasers, videos, polls and behind the scenes photos to build momentum as the buzz around your product spreads. Encourage your social media audience to sign up for the launch notification by including a call to action and link to the MVP’s landing page.
Ultimately, your go-to-market strategy will be shaped by the goals, resource and budget set for the MVP, but using a combination of the above strategies will maximise the product’s reach.
How do I launch an MMP to market?
The point of an MMP is to attract early adopters and generate traction, so your go-to-market strategy should focus on reaching the target audience and promoting the product’s unique value proposition to engage and convert customers.
Some of the marketing tactics that work well for MMPs are:
Whilst researching the need for your digital product, you’ll no doubt have built up a network through social media and other avenues from which you can identify influencers in your target market. Influencer marketing will amplify your product so it reaches a large audience – think of it like a ripple effect. Influencers will help you build trust and credibility for the product by bringing it to the attention and endorsing it to their own audience.
Using paid search (PPC) and paid social media advertising can help get your product in front of specific audiences en masse when it’s highly targeted. Paid media will complement your SEO and organic search strategies – paid social in particular as this gets you in front of the right audience, on the right platform, at the right time.
Traditional and digital PR campaigns will help you build brand awareness through the media your target market reads. Often known as earned media, PR will generate a buzz around your product, build credibility and eventually establish the product as a leader in the market through press coverage. Digital PR will help with your link-building (covered in the SEO section later in this article).
Creating your own content – in all forms, e.g. blogs, videos, podcasts, case studies, demos – that informs and educates your target audience about your product is a key inbound marketing tactic that drives lead generation. Using the marketing funnel method where content is produced for each stage of the buyer’s journey is key to reaching your target audience as they progress from awareness to consideration to decision – ultimately converting to a customer.
Word-of-mouth can expedite your marketing efforts so don’t overlook referral marketing. As soon as your product’s in beta testing, encourage existing users to tell their friends, family and colleagues about it. Early adopters can be evangelical on your behalf. Satisfied and happy existing customers are your best brand ambassadors. Ask for testimonials, capture video case studies and, if appropriate, hold in-person or digital events that bring existing and potential customers together to discuss the product.
Your launch strategy must be shaped by the goals, resource and budget set for the MMP, but using a combination of the above marketing tactics will boost the product’s reach.
Don’t forget SEO (search engine optimisation)
SEO is a long-term strategy that you want to implement as soon as your MVP/MMP is launched. A good SEO strategy will help you gain traction in the market by making your product more visible to potential customers. Using SEO best practices will help your MVP/MMP rank higher in SERPs (search engine results pages), making it more likely that people searching for products or services in your market find yours.
You’ll need to ensure your web pages are optimised for search engines with on-page (or on-site) SEO techniques like keyword research, metadata optimisation, page layout that reduces the cognitive load and image optimisation.
Make sure that technical SEO best practices are covered, including page load speed, building an XML sitemap so your site is crawlable for search engines, making sure there are no dead links (404 errors), and no duplicated content.
Having a solid link-building process as part of your content strategy is another SEO technique you can use to market your digital product as it matures. As part of off-page (off-site) SEO best practice, gaining high-quality backlinks to your website will improve visibility and credibility. However, link building is notoriously difficult and labour-intensive so don’t be tempted to pay for backlinks – it goes against Google’s guidelines and you’ll be penalised which could seriously hurt your search engine rankings.
We began this section by stating that SEO is a long-term strategy and it can take some time to see the results, so set realistic expectations and be patient. By complementing SEO with other marketing tactics to drive growth and maximise traction, you’ll give your digital product the best chance of success.
If you want to test a product hypothesis and have limited time, resource and budget then creating an MVP to validate in the market is the way to go.
The natural next step in the agile software development approach is to build and launch an MMP, which is based on validated learning and a solid understanding of your target users and their preferences.
So choosing to release an MVP or MMP is determined by where you are in the early stages of the product’s lifecycle and the goals you’re aiming to achieve at this point.
Choosing to establish an internal team to create your MVP/MMP has its advantages, just as going externally to engage a digital product studio does. It’s all about weighing up your resources in terms of time, expertise and budget.
When it comes to your go-to-market strategy for an MVP, bear in mind early adopters, beta testing, crowdfunding, a landing page and email list, and social media when you’re ready to launch. For an MMP, tactics like influencer marketing, paid media, PR, content marketing and referral marketing will help you promote the product.
Finally, don’t forget your SEO strategy which should be implemented as soon as you can as increasing your organic ranking on search pages is a long game.