There is no good reason why an MVP should take more than one month. If that happens, it means that the scope of the minimum viable product wasn't small enough.
You want to build the smallest feature set in order to start learning from your target market. It doesn't have to be feature complete. It doesn't even have to offer a feature. It doesn't even need to be a web-based MVP.
If you haven't already, write the first draft of your Lean Canvas. It's a good exercise to define the problem, solution, customer segments, unique value proposition, cost structure and revenue streams.
Keep in mind that each post-it in your Lean Canvas is a hypothesis. It's what you consider as the problem, not necessarily what the market considers as the problem.
The goal here is to identify your riskiest hypothesis.
Ask yourself: Who is your ideal client?
If the answer is vague, try again. Do they have a particular profession? What do they like to do? How old are they? Are they married/single? How many customers does your business model have?
I like to use this form to define your target market:
- As a loyal customer to my local coffee shop, I'd like to get rewards for being loyal to my shop.
- As a local small business owner, I want to offer my repeat customers rewards so that they continue to shop at my store.
Now that you've defined the customer segments hypotheses, you can think about the problem. What problem do they have? What's their pain?
Once you have defined problem and customer segments, you can create your landing page MVP.
The Landing Page MVP
Sometimes an MVP can be as simple as a landing page. If that's the case, you can use one of these services:
You don't need a programmer or software boutique for this. You can build a landing page yourself and drive people to it.
The most important part of the landing page is the problem description. You want the people in your target market to read the problem description and relate to it.
You will find these types of people in your target market:
- They don't know they have a problem. They are fine doing things as they're currently doing them.
- They do know they have a problem. They read your problem description and they can relate to it.
- They do know they have a problem and they have already attempted to solve it. They may have hacked a solution that is not ideal.
- They do know they have a problem and they have a budget for a solution. This is your sweet spot.
- They do know they have a problem and they are already paying someone to provide a solution.
After you clearly define the problem, you want to show a teaser for a solution. Usually this will show one (or many) screenshots and a title for the solution.
At this point, you don't really need to have the solution up and running. It can be a prototype, a Photoshop file, a teaser video or even just some notes in a notepad.
You want to entice people to take a leap of faith.
Call to Action
At this point, the leap of faith is that the users will give you their email address to receive updates on your solution and ideally a product launch.
You can use this information to follow up on them, to put them in a drip email marketing sequence, or to get more information from them.
If they decided to give you their email address, it's more likely that they will be willing to participate in a short call or survey.
* This part is optional. You will probably get more email addresses if you offer a freebie. For example: If you are working on a book, you can offer a sample chapter in exchange for their email address.
Sometimes people will be more willing to share their email details if you offer them something tangible in return.
This type of MVP is useless if you don't drive people to it. How do you drive people to a landing page? The same way that you drive people to any web page.
These are only a few ways to drive people to your landing page:
You can go to events and network with people. When you meet new people, you can give them your card or just mention the name of your project, the problem and the unique value proposition.
If the people you meet are within your target market, it's very likely that they will go to your site and sign up.
This approach takes time and is quite old school.
You can post your website to Facebook so that all your friends can see. If you already have a Facebook page, you can post a link to all your followers.
This way you will get traffic from friends, family and followers. Depending on the amount of likes (and Facebook's algorithm) you will get a lot of traffic or not so much.
If there are groups that are related to this problem, you can join these groups and see what people are saying. You can build a relationship with members and later invite them to your landing page.
This way you will get traffic from people who are not friends nor family.
If you have some budget, you can use Facebook Ads to target people in your demographic. You can go back to the demographic definition and setup a Facebook Ads campaign to target these people.
Google Ad Words
What is your target market searching for in Google? Are they looking for a way to "listen to WNYC online"? Or "offer rewards to my customers"? Or "record a business podcast"?
Google Ad Words is a great way to find people who are already looking for a solution to the problem you described. You can show them an ad and take them to your own landing page.
Some problems already have forums of people talking about them. People usually search for solutions. If they can't find it, they ask other people for advice.
You could participate in forums and learn from the people that are asking questions that are related to your problem. Then you can drive these people to your landing page.
Pivot or Persevere
After you ran your landing page for a few weeks, you can measure the results. How many emails did you collect? What was the conversion rate? Out of all the visitors, how many of them gave you their email address? That ratio is your conversion rate.
With that information you will be able to continue with the same problem description, or you will be forced to pivot into another problem or solution.