We will speak about creating your minimum viable product (MVP) later. Right now, you’re still in research stage. So I recommend creating a prototype before the MVP because there is so much to learn.
Although I speak about prototyping in relation to a software product, the prototype methodology can also be applied to almost any type of product or service. You just need to get creative. For example, when I was writing this book, the table of contents was the prototype that I validated with my target audience.
I know. Everything is about ‘minimum viable product’ these days – which is great. However, creating a prototype is one of the best ways to perform market research because your target market can see how your product or service operates without having to visualise and interpret what they think you mean.
Prototypes in the context of software are something like a clickable interface that doesn’t actually work. It is only to provide an interactive visual representation of what you intend to create. This step is essential before you spend any money – even on an MVP.
The prototype of your product should demonstrate exactly how you intend your product to work. Once you build your prototype, you need to arrange meetings with people who have experience in the industry and show the prototype to them. You can try reaching out through LinkedIn.
Prototypes are a great step because people are more likely to be honest with their feedback when they know you haven’t spent much money. However, if you have spent time developing an MVP, people tend to say ‘looks great!’ even if there are some things they don’t like –people don’t usually want to offend, especially if it is clear you have invested significant time and money into it.
Showing your prototype to some key people early does takes some leg work, but understanding the industry is essential. Understanding whether your product or service will solve your target audience’s problem is critical.
Take this step before you even think about developing your MVP. If you get this right it will validate your research that you have identified the market, identified the problem and have found a potential solution to move forward to the next stage with.
If you want to make a prototype fast, then check out UXPIN. This brilliant service is incredibly cost effective and allows you to make stunning prototypes without going to the time or expense of hiring a developer. If you use a solution such as UXPIN, you will get a working prototype for just a fraction of the price of an MVP.
The ultimate test at prototype stage is to ask for the order. Once you speak to people in your target market and they say that is something that they would use, as them for an order to get early access to the MVP. The price of the offer should be minimal and the terms very favorable to them. For example, you can provide these early adopters an added incentive by offering grandfathered pricing which allows them to get a low monthly or yearly price for life.
Make sure you provide a guarantee, so the person’s money will be returned in full if you don’t get your MVP off the ground. You should also have a specification sheet attached to a sale agreement that your lawyer should draft for you. The agreement should be very basic – after all, it is a legal document to give the purchaser comfort – not you.
The offer must be so favorable that it will outweigh any risk they perceive. We will talk about how to create killer offers in a later section.