MAP is the new key to a product’s viability and long term profitability
It’s time to move on from MVP and say hello to the new kid on the block — MAP.
Almost 5 years ago when I graduated from University and started my first job at a transport start up, I was first introduced to the concept of MVP — Minimum Viable Product.
Eric Ries, the author of *The Lean Start Up* defines MVP as:
A Minimum Viable Product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
The start up I worked for followed this concept to the letter. We created and launched new products every other month with new versions of the product every other week.
At first, it felt like an awesome idea as we saw the fruits of our work materialize quite quickly. However, the more we launched and the more we tweaked, the more we began to see the cracks in the way we worked and what we produced.
Products delivered had a sub-par quality in order to test the market for early adopters. Each time a new product is launched, we took technical shortcuts to deliver as quickly as possible and tightened the noose around our own necks. While the bottom line soared, the technical debt grew tenfold. The system became brittle and fragile.
All that we had built and spent time on could come collapsing down. The only fix we could see was to spend more time and or additional money to unravel the beast we created — all in the name of MVP.
We voiced our concerns. Not only that, our team was on the brink of burnout from the constant 2 weeks launch cycle. There was no break. The stress started to compound as we were also fixing up the messes we created to maintain the velocity we were launching to market.
The issue with MVP is that while its financially safe for a startup to test their products early, doing the minimum required also leads to shortcuts that can critically impact on future growth and cost you more in the long run. MVP might have a smaller sunk cost but it also has an equally larger and possible negative long term impact on the brand and the business.
With the rise and market saturation of MVPs being launched left, right and center, consumers are more likely to hold back on early adoption unless they are massively impressed by the product.
As a result, MVPs can potentially be seen as half-arsed products.
Delaying a product launch to turn an MVP into a MAP — *Minimum Awesome Product* — can be more impacting to current and future customers.
At the start up, most of our customers were not aware they are were guinea pig testers. When a product did not work or make as much impact to the bottom line, the service would be cancelled and often without notice. It always added negatively to brand value and the only saving grace to an MVP’s fiasco was the customer service team. Their ability to appease small but passionately angry customers saved the company from further damage.
MAP is like the better and smarter version of MVP. It properly puts the customer first. The aim of a MAP is to create a product that adds value to the customer, doing the minimum to get there but not at the expense of quality.
In an age where everything can be produced cheaply and quickly, quality is the third factor that differentiates your product from all the others currently available. The new generation are natives in technology and expect a certain level of quality to be delivered. If you are not even meeting that expectation, it doesn’t matter how brilliant your idea is, your MVP is most likely to fail.
MAP solves this problem. When there is attention to details and quality, you end up with a superior product. This equates to a superior experience. When time and attention is limited, presentation and experience is the thing that will determine the longevity and product viability of your idea.
There is too much competition out there for your product to be sub-par. It doesn’t take long nowadays to search for an alternative. The idea behind your product hook may be amazing but if delivery is not matched in quality, then that is the true sunk cost of an opportunity.
In short, don’t launch something just for the sake of testing an idea. If you are here to play the long game, MAP is the way to go. Get it done properly whilst balancing it with doing the minimum. It’s better to start on a solid foundation than quickly build everything on matchsticks and hope it doesn’t fall to pieces.
3 key takeaways:
- Don’t half arse your product so you can launch your product to market as soon as possible. Spend a little extra time to refine your designs, delivery and execution of the product. Always deliver something awesome.
- Put your customers first. They are more than just guinea pig testers. Customers and their perception of your brand and product determines your end of day and long term bottom line. The quality of your product determines the quality of your customers.
- Awesome doesn’t mean a million features. Awesome means the product or service you are delivering solves a problem and in a manner that exceeds customer expectation. Have only what is necessary to keep the M in MAP.