Minimum Viable Segment: A Smart(er) Approach to Growth


In a recent engagement we focused on identifying the minimum viable segment (MVS) for a NewCo the client was contemplating launching.  We were assessing the viability and sustainability for new services and set out to identify the group of customers who would have a strong and immediate need for the offering.  The benefit of this exercise is that it clarified the NewCo’s thinking about core features and it simplified its product development efforts.  

Minimal Viable Segment is essentially the smallest subset of a target market that can sustain a product.  It involves an in-depth analysis of customer demographics, behaviors and needs to  find the most receptive group for a product.  

The strategic benefits of defining a Minimum Viable Segment are compelling:

  1. Focused targeting: Zeroing on specific customer groups, for example, professional photographers for photo editing software ensures relevance and engagement.  
  2. Efficient Resource Use: A targeted approach leads to better use of capital and resources. 
  3. Fit and Relevance: Tailor product features, tweak marketing messages and dial-in the user experience to fit the needs of the segment.
  4. Feedback and Iteration: Gather the voice of the customer and enhance the product features.  Who better than, for example, the professional photographer, to provide feedback on the usability of product features and to define what else is missing.
  5. Brand Advocacy: Identify early adopters who can champion the value of your product, boosting its visibility.
  6. Reduction in Market Risk: Minimize the risks of new products or new markets by running market tests before a full-launch.
  7. Scaling Framework:  Be guided by the MVS when contemplating how to scale to larger markets.
  8. Tailored Message: Speak directly to the target market and have a resonating message to validate customer acquisition assumptions. 
  9. Specialization Advantage and Know-How: Not quite competitive advantage, but develop specialized market knowledge not readily available without significant investment.
  10. Inform Long-Term Strategic Planning: Key learnings should be applied to expanded segments and more importantly to future expansion efforts.  

By more thoroughly understanding market dynamics and customer behavior through rigorous analysis, risks can be mitigated and know-how can be developed to add to incremental growth.  A thoughtful and rigorous MVS analysis accelerated the client’s ability to segment, target and position its new offering.  It saved time and resources.  More importantly, they received timely and accurate feedback on the product offering that allowed them to enhance and to expand the final product offering.  Long term, this approach provided them with the tools to assess new market entry with minimal investment on future projects.

The Story of Success: Developing Your Product Launch’s Narrative from the Beginning


northript-600It’s no secret that one of the keys to a successful product launch is getting people involved in conversations about your product.  One of the great successes of social media marketing has been its  ability to weave products into the short stories that people are constantly telling each other using mediums like Twitter and Facebook.

The stories your customers are telling should by no means be limited to short, hash-tagged anecdotes that involve your product as a bit player.  Developing your product’s narrative will get consumers to tell each other stories not just involving your product, but revolving around it.  Your product launch, while vital in your product’s story, should by no means be its beginning.

Many of the stories that captivated audiences in the last decade, from the film adaptations of Tolkein’s works to the Die Hard saga, present the story’s hero as a solution to a problem established near the beginning of the narrative.  Middle Earth is under attack, Hans Gruber has crashed the office Christmas party–unless the hero arrives soon and solves the problem, things are going to be looking very dire indeed.

Like these blockbusters, the story of your product will be at its most compelling if it begins by explaining the problem that compelled your product’s existence.  This technique puts your company and its product in a perfect position to save the day.  If your company’s processes–like sourcing sustainable materials or using eco-friendly waste disposal technologies–are part of the solution your customers want, then implementing these processes can become an important part of the pre-launch narrative.

While your product launch shouldn’t be the beginning of the product’s narrative, it should not be its end either.  Continuing the product narrative post-launch is a critical means of getting your customers involved on a personal level with your product and your brand.  The most effective narrative for your product will depend on a number of factors, including the culture of your target market and the development processes favored by your company.  Focus on how to construct the best possible product narrative as the company enhances its story.

Bring Authority to Your Product Launch


3684025770_8143d3c7b0_oWhen you are launching a product, there is a distinct advantage to being an authority on the product you are selling. Let us be clear here, being an authority is not the same thing as being an expert. An expert often has a lot of knowledge and experience on a topic, but people do not necessarily listen. An authority, on the other hand, is an expert that people listen to. Here you will see how being an authority can work for you during your product launch.

Being an authority has another appeal besides gaining trust and loyalty: it defines the mission of your company, and drowns out any associated stereotypes for your product.  For instance, if you are bringing a new pen to the market, your established authority and associated mission tells everyone that’s it’s not just a pen, it’s a better pen. All you will have to do is talk about how you made it better.

As an authority with a mission, you will be making the conversations, not just participating in them as part of your product launch. People will listen when you say that this is the conversation we should be having. This conversation is literally the platform of your product launch, and people are listening from minute one because you are an authority.

After you have earned the position as an authority on a topic, you will find that launching your new products becomes easier. When you are an authority on a product before the product launch, people tend to do your marketing for you. You can imagine your customers and potential customers will spread the word about how your product is better.

Being an authority on a topic is part being an expert, but also part confidence and attitude. As an expert, you will show that you know your topic, products, and field inside and out.